New & Noteworthy, From the Science of Life to Annie Oakley

Recent titles of interest:

FOUR HUNDRED SOULS: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain. (One World, $32.) Ninety authors in various genres recast U.S. history from a Black perspective, starting with the arrival of the first slave ship.

WHAT IS LIFE? Five Great Ideas in Biology, by Paul Nurse. (Norton, $20.) Nurse, a Nobel laureate in medicine and director of the Francis Crick Institute, walks readers through five essential components of life, from the cell to evolution by natural selection, in a guide that’s part textbook and part history of ideas.

ANNIE AND THE WOLVES, by Andromeda Romano-Lax. (Soho, $27.) This novel features a modern-day historian obsessed with the sharpshooter Annie Oakley and her possibly traumatic past. The book blurs time and reality until Oakley herself turns up in the present to narrate the events of her life.

BLACK MAGIC: What Black Leaders Learned From Trauma and Triumph, by Chad Sanders. (Simon & Schuster, $27.) In testimonial-style sections, Sanders highlights individuals who have succeeded in a variety of industries: science, entertainment, business, art.

PROSOPAGNOSIA, by Sònia Hernández. Translated by Samuel Rutter. (Scribe, paper, $16.) This quirky coming-of-age novel by a celebrated young Spanish writer centers on a tender mother-daughter relationship.

What we’re reading:

When I moved to Washington in 2019, I found myself grasping for a better sense of the city that I was now calling home. Several locals pointed me to DREAM CITY, the 1994 tome by Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood that traced Washington’s development through the life of Marion S. Barry Jr. , whose journey from the mayor’s office to a prison cell and back makes for gripping drama. But the book’s real power lies in the way it illuminates how race has shaped the diverse city’s fight for statehood over decades. It is that undercurrent that came to mind as I watched the footage of a virtually all-white mob overwhelm the Capitol Police, followed by the city’s officers rushing in to help restore order to a building where its citizens lack a voice.

—Aman Batheja, deputy weekend editor,
Washington, D.C., bureau

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