notable new releases
compiled by Sally Brewster
The Premonition: A Pandemic Story, by Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis’s previous book, The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, presciently asked readers the question — what if government agencies tasked with managing catastrophes failed to prepare for an unanticipated impending crisis? When Lewis heard news of the coronavirus spreading worldwide, he called his sources for The Fifth Risk and was alarmed when they told him that they were concerned by the government’s failure to contain the virus and the spread of disinformation. Lewis interviewed more people to get a better picture of what was unfolding during the beginning of the pandemic. In this nonfiction thriller, he follows three central characters — a biochemist, a public-health worker and a government employee who worked in the White House — as they try to avoid catastrophe and prevent future pandemics.
The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last Chance Journey Across America,
by Elizabeth Letts
The incredible true story of a woman who rode her horse across America in the 1950s, fulfilling her dying wish to see the Pacific Ocean. Annie Wilkins, a 63-year-old farmer from Maine, embarked on an impossible journey when her doctor told her she had two years to live. She had no relatives, and she had lost her family farm to back taxes, so the doctor offered her a place in the county’s charity home. She declined, bought a cast-off brown gelding named Tarzan, donned men’s dungarees, loaded up her horse and headed out. Between 1954 and 1956, Annie, Tarzan and her dog, Depeche Toi, journeyed more than 4,000 miles through America’s big cities and small towns, meeting ordinary people and celebrities from Andrew Wyeth to Groucho Marx. A heartwarming and nostalgic book.
Dream Girl, by Laura Lippman
Successful novelist Gerry Andersen has moved to Baltimore to be near his ailing mother. He has barely settled into his duplex penthouse when his mother dies. Then, Gerry slips and falls down a dangerous staircase. His injuries are so severe, he’s confined to bed and cared for by round-the-clock nurses. Befuddled by painkillers, Gerry’s mind drifts back over episodes in his life: his childhood, the highs and lows of his three marriages, his book tours and teaching jobs. One night, he receives a phone call from a woman claiming to be Aubrey, a character in his first novel, Dream Girl. The calls persist, as do shadowy nighttime appearances of a woman. He scrambles to separate truth from possible hallucinations until the morning he awakes to find a woman undeniably dead in his bed. Lippman is in top form for this wonderful guessing game of a novel.
Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement,
by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R. Sunstein
Psychology professor Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow), business professor Sibony (You’re About to Make a Terrible Mistake!) and legal scholar Sunstein (Too Much Information) team up for this fascinating exploration of the bias and “noise” that cause errors in human judgment. Noise, they write, is “variability in judgments that should be identical” that, when combined with one’s own biases — conscious or not — can cause human error. The authors offer noise-reduction strategies and suggest breaking down complex decisions into “multiple fact-based assessments”; avoiding group discussions; and appointing a “decision observer” to identify bias. The result is dense and complex, but those who stay the course will be rewarded with an intricate examination of decision-making and sound judgment. SP
Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books at 4139 Park Road. parkroadbooks.com