Recent books of interest:
FIGHTING WORDS: The Bold American Journalists Who Brought the World Home Between the Wars, by Nancy F. Cott. (Basic, $32.) In the 1920s, with newspapers ascendant and readers curious about the world, the foreign reporter became a swashbuckling archetype. Cott profiles four.
THE VELVET ROPE ECONOMY: How Inequality Became Big Business, by Nelson D. Schwartz. (Doubleday, $28.95.) From health care to entertainment to transportation, a New York Times business reporter looks at the ways the service economy is overwhelmingly rigged to make life easier for the rich.
SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, From Ancient Fossils to DNA, by Neil Shubin. (Pantheon, $26.95.) Shubin, a biologist and the author of “Your Inner Fish,” explains how fossil discoveries and advances in DNA science help us understand the nature and history of evolution.
THE EIGHTH GIRL, by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung. (Morrow, $28.99.) This debut suspense thriller (by a practicing psychotherapist) features a heroine with multiple personalities and her mysterious friend drawn into London’s sexually predatory underground.
COLLECTED STORIES, by Lorrie Moore. (Everyman’s Library, $27.) Moore’s sardonic, brittle, winsome ingénues have been a fixture of American literature since the 1980s; this book gathers all of her stories in one volume.
What we’re reading:
Earlier this year, I was obsessed with the tournament on “Jeopardy!” to crown the “greatest of all time” — the “GOAT.” As a minor trivia enthusiast, I knew some of the answers, but it seemed as if Ken Jennings knew all of them. I wanted to know how he did it.
I hunted down Jennings’s first book, BRAINIAC: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs, which details his legendary run of 74 consecutive wins on “Jeopardy!” in 2004. The book is much more than a memoir of overnight celebrity; Jennings wants us to understand the forces that created him. He recounts early game show scandals, gives us a peek into the secret societies of college quiz bowls and profiles the obsessives behind Trivial Pursuit and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” It’s enough to make you feel as if you’ve been inducted into Jennings’s tribe of trivia nuts, and maybe you, too, could be competing on “Jeopardy!” soon.
—Renan Borelli, senior editor, digital storytelling