Lord Of Misrule
by Jaimy Gordon
In an unexpected victory for a veteran novelist hitting her peak and for her little-known indie publisher, Lord of Misrule was the winner of the 2010 National Book Award for fiction. It's a weird, magical tale about a dusty West Virginia town and its downtrodden racetrack, which follows the lives of jockeys, loan sharks, metalsmiths and other outcasts over the course of a year, as they place their hopes and desires into four races and the horses that they long to see win big. As Jane Smiley wrote in The Washington Post, "Gordon has thought so thoroughly about her characters that each voice dips into racetrack lingo in a distinctive way. It is an impressive performance."
304 pages, $15, Vintage Books
Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend
by James S. Hirsch
This authorized biography of Willie Mays revisits his career as a transformational baseball player who brought not only an incredible combination of speed and power to baseball but also the verve of the Negro Leagues to the New York Giants, just as America reached its postwar zenith. "The agreement we had was that Willie would read the manuscript in advance, and can make any factual changes, but he couldn't make changes that I didn't agree with," author James S. Hirsch told Neal Conan. While some critics have nonetheless faulted the resulting book for its worshipful treatment of Mays, others have found Hirsch's greatest strength to be probing the strategy and mechanics behind Mays' feats on the field, and just how much strategy and art went into them.
640 pages, $18, Scribner
WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War On Secrecy
by David Leigh and Luke Harding
When The Guardian newspaper published information from WikiLeaks, David Leigh was its investigations editor and Luke Harding its Moscow correspondent. Their view of the renegade political website, its founder Julian Assange, and the ethical, legal and political controversies it has engendered are deeply colored by how The Guardian covered the story and can stray into self-serving riffs on the tirelessness, skill and imagination of the newspaper's team. But the Financial Times still finds their book stronger in describing the content and the importance of the WikiLeaks revelations than the recent rival portrait Inside WikiLeaks by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Assange's closest collaborator.
352 pages, $15.99, PublicAffairs
No Apology: Believe In America
by Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney has been a governor, the head of an investment capital firm, and the man who ran the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. More recently he applied for an even bigger job but lost the Republican presidential primaries of 2008, catching flak from evangelicals who had doubts about his Mormonism and about his switch from pro-abortion-rights Massachusetts governor to anti-abortion presidential candidate. Romney seems set on another run in 2012, the latest sign being the release of his book, No Apology: Believe in America. It echoes a common critique of the president by Republicans — that Obama has been too willing to apologize around the world for American actions. Laying out a vision for U.S. economic and foreign policy, Romney emphasizes fixing the economy, creating jobs, fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and safeguarding the U.S.
352 pages, $15.99, St. Martin's Griffin
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent A Year Trying To Sing In The Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, And Generally Have More Fun
by Gretchen Rubin
With a Yale law degree, a career as a full-time author, a husband who is the man of her dreams, two "delightful" daughters and an enviable life in New York City, Gretchen Rubin has much to be grateful for. But she also decries her tendency to lose her temper over trivial things and succumb to melancholy and insecurity, not to mention unshakable guilt. So she marshaled all her skills as a lawyer and biographer, putting herself through a disciplined program to road-test the wisdom of the ages on achieving happiness in all areas — from work, marriage and money to fun and friendships. In contrast to her popular blog, which coaches readers on increasing their happiness daily, this memoir-cum-self-help book reads like a charming and honest look into a real woman's life, while offering plenty of inspiration and chipper advice.
336 pages, $14.99, Harper Paperbacks
Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, she also leads a weekly chat on books and reading in the digital age every Friday from 4-5 p.m. ET on Twitter. Follow her at @charabbott or check out the #followreader hashtag .