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The Bathysphere Book: Effects of the Luminous Ocean Depths

Brad Fox (Astra House)

This fascinating history begins in 1930, with two men climbing into a four-and-a-half-foot steel ball and being lowered 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean. From there, the adventures of naturalist William Beebe, engineer Otis Barton, and biologist Gloria Hollister, who recorded Beebe’s observations via telephone line, only get more surreal and breathtaking. Per PW’s starred review, this “original and often profound” chronicle is “a moving testament to the wonders of exploration.”

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Beautiful Trauma: An Explosion, an Obsession, and a New Lease on Life

Rebecca Fogg (Avery)

After a freak accident left Fogg with a partially amputated hand in 2006, she developed a powerful fascination with the science of recovery; here she weaves the moving account of her emotional recovery with deep dives into nerve regeneration and pain processing, making for a memoir that’s edifying and hard to look away from.

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Don’t Call Me Home

Alexandra Auder (Viking)

This enthralling debut from actor and performance artist Auder recounts her childhood living in the Chelsea Hotel with her mother, Andy Warhol superstar Viva, and sister, actor Gaby Hoffmann. At times, the author’s love for her mother “burned the inside of my chest,” and at others, she longed to “hit her over the head with a cast-iron frying pan.” Funny, bracing, and compulsively readable, Auder’s memoir resists juicy gossip in favor of hard-won truths.

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Edison’s Ghosts: The Untold Weirdness of History’s Greatest Geniuses

Katie Spalding (Little, Brown)

Mathematician Spalding’s delightful survey mixes knee-slapping humor and meticulous research to showcase a diverse cast of historical luminaries at their most idiotic. From Thomas Edison’s belief he could telephone the spirit world to Albert Einstein’s bumbling maritime mishaps, readers will learn a lesson perfectly suited to the dog days of summer—being smart isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Schadenfreude never tasted so sweet.

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The Experience Machine: How Our Minds Predict and Shape Reality

Andy Clark (Pantheon)

Cognitive philosophy professor Clark’s stimulating survey of the surprising ways the human brain misinterprets reality covers studies on how suggestion, prediction, and expectation can cause people to think they sense what isn’t there. This is chock-full of insights that reveal the world isn’t necessarily as it seems. Pop psychology fans could hardly ask for a better primer on the tricks the mind plays.

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Flight Paths: How a Passionate and Quirky Group of Pioneering Scientists Solved the Mystery of Bird Migration

Rebecca Heisman (Harper)

Science writer Heisman demystifies bird migration in this stellar study. Birders will swoon over the detailed profiles of contemporary ornithologists, who are using genome sequencing, isotope analysis, and radar to shed light on where birds travel and how they know how to get there. Readers will want to keep their binoculars handy.

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Pageboy

Elliot Page (Flatiron)

Page’s hotly anticipated debut pulls back the curtain on the trans actor’s 2007 Oscar campaign for Juno, during which he was pressured to present as a hot new Hollywood starlet. Page recounts the cognitive dissonance of feeling his dreams come true while being asked to suppress his emergent transness, and his subsequent path out of the closet. This is poised to be one of the season’s most discussed celebrity memoirs.

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The Power of Language: How the Codes We Use to Think, Speak, and Live Transform Our Minds

Viorica Marian (Dutton)

Marian makes a rousing argument for multilingualism and its ability to sharpen executive functioning and boost creativity, among other benefits. Herself a trilingual, Marian exposes the “myth” of the “critical period” of childhood language learning, shows how multilingualism can promote cross-cultural understanding, and makes a convincing case that picking up a second (or third, or fourth) language can be enjoyable instead of intimidating.

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Under the Eye of Power: How Fear of Secret Societies Shapes American Democracy

Colin Dickey (Viking)

Dickey’s previous books delved into Americans’ obsessions with haunted houses, UFOs, aliens, and more. His latest tackles a scarier subject: the fear that “secret groups are conspiring to pervert the will of the people and the rule of law.” Tracing this idea through history from the Salem witch trials to QAnon, Dickey contends that paranoia is baked into America’s democratic institutions. It promises to be an entertaining, elucidating, and disturbing trip off the beaten path.

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Unlikable Female Characters: The Women Pop Culture Wants You to Hate

Anna Bogutskaya (Sourcebooks)

This colorful tour of the pop culture canon serves up smart analysis of women characters who have upended the strictures of traditional femininity. Bogutskaya consistently entertains as she considers what audience reception to Mean Girls’ Regina George, Breaking Bad’s Skyler White, and Fleabag’s eponymous protagonist suggest about power and representation in the entertainment business, making this a whip-smart companion for summer TV binges.

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