See Best Books from: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009     Summer: 2013 | 2012

Thinking in Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math

Daniel Tammet (Little, Brown )

Like the people profiled by Oliver Sacks in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, who, for one reason or another, perceive reality in very unique ways, Tammet, an autistic savant, welcomes readers into his synesthetic world, where numbers and words come alive with color and shape.

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Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell

Katherine Angel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Writing in poetic, elliptical prose, and putting copious white space to work, Angel plumbs the depths of desire in what PW called a “thinking woman’s meditation” on feminism, sexuality, and individual liberation. She miraculously makes easy bedfellows of everything from bondage fantasies to quotations from Virginia Woolf and lucid ruminations on the politics of pornography and abortion.

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The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry

Gary Greenberg (Penguin/Blue Rider )

Folks directed by their docs to get some much-needed beachside R&R this summer probably won’t be reaching for Greenberg’s newest as they flip-flop out the sliding glass door, but those looking for some meatier summer reading will relish this compelling insider’s account of psychiatry’s growing pains. It’s savvy, searching, and it makes for damn good reading.

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American Savage: Insight, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love and Politics

Dan Savage (Dutton)

The Supreme Court is currently hearing cases relating to same-sex marriage, making sex columnist and gay-rights activist Savage’s book timely as well as provocative, funny, and frank. The essay collection offers sex and relationship advice, and the author’s persuasive argument for same-sex marriage and adoption rights.

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The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-on Living

Wendy Jehanara Tremayne (Storey )

Summer is a perfect time to ponder—and try—living with less. Tremayne’s whimsically illustrated back-to-the-land memoir and DIY manual, which PW called a “rollicking, inspiring tale,” convincingly advocates for a “decommodified life.” Readers will be moved to consider everything from the concept of the gift economy to recipes for homemade toothpaste and kombucha.

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The Origin of Feces

David Waltner-Toews (ECW (IPG, dist.) )

It may be a poor topic for polite company, but we can learn a tremendous amount from both human and animal waste. Veterinarian and epidemiologist Waltner-Toews takes a world-historical tour of this fundamental component of the cycle of life. Until you read this, you really won’t know sh*t.

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Gaining Ground

Forrest Pritchard (Globe Pequot/Lyons )

A new face in the growing sustainable agriculture movement, Pritchard took over the family farm after finishing college, but as an English major, he had to learn his adopted trade the hard way. With a gift for storytelling, he’ll have you thinking twice about your relationship with food.

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My New Gender Workbook

Kate Bornstein (Routledge )

Fifteen years after its original publication, sex-positive gender anarchist Bornstein updates this classic text in gender exploration. Challenging assumptions of what makes a man a man and a woman a woman, this playful series of exercises on uncomfortable subjects is sure, according to PW’s review, to “make you squirm, blush, [and] giggle.”

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Steal the Menu: A Memoir of Forty Years in Food

Raymond Sokolov (Knopf )

In the early 1970s, Sokolov joined the New York Times as its restaurant critic, and in his memoir he shares his many culinary memories. Captivating and humorous, Sokolov’s inviting memoir joins the ranks of Ruth Reichl’s and Judith Jones’s elegant recollections of life lived at table.

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Mickey And Willie: Mantle and Mays, the Parallel Lives of Baseball’s Golden Age

Allen Barra (Crown Archetype )

Berra has written the lives of sports legends (Paul “Bear” Bryant, Yogi Berra) and reminisced about some of America’s most famous ballparks (Ridgewood Field, Cooperstown). In this book he combines the biographies of two baseball greats, inspired by his own notions of what defines a hero, and offers a touching fan’s notes of Mays and Mantle.

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