Recent visual books of note:
THE CITY BENEATH: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti, by Susan A. Phillips. (Yale University, $50.) From Japanese internees and hobos at the turn of the 20th century to taggers at the turn of the 21st, these graffiti artists reveal Los Angeles’s underground history.
GOLD MOUNTAIN, BIG CITY: Ken Cathcart’s 1947 Illustrated Map of San Francisco’s Chinatown, by Jim Schein. (Cameron Books, $40.) Based on Cathcart’s impressions of the neighborhood, this stylized cultural map of the largest Chinese community outside of Asia is brought to life by vivid details and photographs.
WOMEN’S WORK: Stories From Pioneering Women Shaping Our Workforce, by Chris Crisman. (Simon & Schuster, $35.) Portraits of and interviews with women making strides across all industries and disciplines, from corporate executives to a chemical engineer, a biographer to a beekeeper.
KOREAN ART FROM 1953: Collision, Innovation, and Interaction, edited by Yeon Shim Chung, Sunjung Kim, Kimberly Chung and Keith B. Wagner. (Phaidon, $79.95.) Global scholars and art specialists amass the first comprehensive look at North and South Korean art after the Korean War.
THE ART OF EARTH ARCHITECTURE: Past, Present, Future, by Jean Dethier. (Princeton Architectural Press, $125.) The product of a half-century of research, this survey of structures built across five continents and over the past 10,000 years shows what unbaked earth can build.
What we’re reading:
I finished reading SEVERANCE not long before I started reading articles about the coronavirus, which I would not recommend doing to yourself if you are even a little bit stressed about the current outbreak. Ling Ma’s debut novel, about a pandemic that slowly but steadily wipes out most of the world’s population and narrated by a young woman who keeps showing up to her desk for far longer than she ought to, draws too many eerie parallels to current headlines. But it wasn’t just my worries and what-ifs about the coronavirus that made “Severance” uncomfortable to read. The monster stalking the protagonist throughout this story is work, and it made me question the ways I let my identity become tightly intertwined with my job. Those twin anxieties made it impossible to set the book down — I stayed up until 4 a.m. one night to finish reading it — and made its ending that much more frustrating. I wanted an out, somehow, or a reassurance. But Ma gives no ground.
—Kate Conger, technology reporter