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The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America

Margaret O’Mara (Penguin)

Readers anticipating some long, leisurely reading at the beach or the cabin might curl up with O’Mara’s epic “only-in-America story,” which tracks the history of computing in the U.S. via the transformation of once-sleepy Palo Alto and the surrounding Bay Area into a center of unmatched wealth and power.


Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion

Tanisha C. Ford (St. Martin’s)

Ford—a professor of Africana studies, whose previous book, Liberated Threads, looked at the role of personal style in black women’s civil rights activism—dishes up a combination of history, memoir, and cultural analysis in this tour through 10 clothing items and hairstyles such as the dashiki, the Jheri curl, the door-knocker earrings popular in ’90s music videos, and the hooded sweatshirts that became a symbol in the Black Lives Matter movement.


Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World

Jeff Gordinier (Crown/Duggan)

In what is certainly a foodie’s dream trek, Esquire food editor Gordinier sets off to Australia, Denmark, and Mexico with Noma chef and culinary genius René Redzepi in search of amazing flavors.


It’s Great to Suck at Something: The Exceptional Benefits of Being Unexceptional

Karen Rinaldi (Atria)

Rinaldi, publisher of Harper Wave, asks readers to try new things (and fail), rails against humblebrag culture, and suggests strategies for exploring uncomfortable personal and professional terrain in this work that originated in a popular New York Times article.


Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder

John Waters (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Filmmaker and self-described “garbage guru” Waters delights with this hybrid memoir/advice book, which shares memorable moments from his directing career—such as casting Patty Hearst in Cry-Baby—and entertaining riffs on topics including 1960s “car-accident teen novelty records,” Andy Warhol’s contribution to the cinema, and the best vacation spots.


Nuking the Moon: And Other Intelligence Schemes and Military Plots Left on the Drawing Board

Vince Houghton (Penguin)

The curator and historian at the International Spy Museum serves up funny, snack-size chapters on 21 outlandish plans pursued, then abandoned, by the U.S. military and intelligence departments. Among them are attempts to use cats as listening devices, make aircraft carriers out of icebergs, psych out Japanese soldiers by parachute-dropping painted foxes onto beaches, and use nuclear explosions to shift hurricanes’ trajectories.


Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide

Tony Horwitz (Penguin Press)

Following in the footsteps of Frederick Law Olmsted, a journalist (and the landscape architect of New York’s Central Park) assigned to explore the South shortly before the Civil War, Horwitz makes his way through six Southern states by train, car, steamboat, and even mule, talking to locals, partaking in Southern culture, and contemplating American history.


They Bled Blue: Fernandomania, Strike-Season Mayhem, and the Weirdest Championship Baseball Had Ever Seen: The 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers

Jason Turbow (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Sportswriter Turbow captures the Los Angeles Dodgers’ thrilling, improbable 1981 championship season, highlighting the behind-the-scenes antics of the edgy and eclectic cast of characters that defeated the New York Yankees. Like peanuts and Cracker Jack, this is a summer treat for baseball fans.


The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of the Voyager Golden Record

Jonathan Scott (Bloomsbury)

This is a high-energy pop song of a book about one of NASA’s most unlikely endeavors—the 1977 project to create a playlist for the Voyager probe. Scott will enchant astronomy and music buffs equally as he recounts the six-week process of choosing the right music and sounds to represent humanity to anyone else who might be out there.


Whole Hog BBQ: The Gospel of Carolina Barbecue with Recipes from Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ

Sam Jones and Daniel Vaughn (Ten Speed)

Pitmaster Jones and Texas Monthly editor Vaughn give an expert course in North Carolina barbecue in this comprehensive guide to choosing a hog, selecting wood, building the burn barrel, and throwing a pig roast. This reference will be a boon for weekend barbecue masters looking to take their game to the next level.


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