Hamilton, the chef/owner of the Manhattan bistro Prune, hasn't become a household name, but if she does, it might just be for her writing, not her cooking. Hamilton moves easily from rich metaphor to dark humor, from dreamy abstraction to the vivid and precise descriptions of anything from a maggot-infested rat to a plate of beautiful ravioli. Her backstage expose of the chef's life includes plenty of swagger, swearing and drama on the brunch shift. But the book is even more interesting when she moves outside the kitchen.
Ice-T hustled in his early days and performed with Body Count, known for the song "Cop Killer." But in 1991 he got his big break playing a cop in New Jack City. And he's still carrying a badge on TV — for Law & Order: SVU. In his memoir, Ice, he shares his story, from losing both of his parents as a child, to gangbanging, to making it in Hollywood and reckoning with his past.
Stieg Larsson died before his international best-seller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was published — and now, his legacy has become a hornet's nest. His brother and father, who inherited the estate, have rejected claims by Larsson's longtime companion, Eva Gabrielsson, who could not inherit because she was not married to him. Gabrielsson is holding the trump card, though — a fourth, unpublished manuscript, which she refuses to hand over, though she does not hold rights to it. "There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me is her side of the story, and it's filled with juicy tidbits, though no one comes out particularly well.
Kenneth Slawenski's biography J.D. Salinger: A Life is the first major work on the author since his death in 2010, but like other biographers, Slawenski, who has run a popular Salinger fan site since 2004 and has been at work on this biography (his first book) for eight years, can't penetrate the many hours that America's most reclusive writer spent cooped up alone. The most endearing section of Slawenski's book is also the most eventful: Salinger's traumatic experience during World War I, which also reveals him to be a writer in the strictest sense.
Examined Lives looks at the stories behind, and the doctrines of, 12 of the world's great philosophers (or, if you're a particularly skeptical student of the field, 11 of the world's great philosophers and Ralph Waldo Emerson). The careers of the profiled sages range in time from the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. to just over a century ago — and while not much is known for sure about the lives of Socrates and Plato, James Miller, a historian, does an admirable job of piecing together coherent and sometimes fascinating narratives.
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.