In The Big Sort (Mariner, $15.95) Bill Bishop paints a surprising portrait of the demographics of the United States today. While we think of ourselves as increasingly ethnically diverse, Bishop convincingly argues that we are populated more by disparate homogenous communities than at any time in our history. Large numbers of us have highly sensitive cultural antennae that inform us whether we are with “our kind.” High in the ratings that define that “kind” are lifestyle choices: where we live, where we shop, where we vacation.  Yes, it’s true that customers who shop at Books-A-Million in Alexandria are different from customers who shop at Politics and Prose, and because we are so tightly contained in our clustered communities, we are more foreign to each other than ever before.  Bishop’s snapshot of America is fascinating but troubling.

The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded American is Tearing Us Apart Cover Image
ISBN: 9780547237725
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Mariner Books - May 11th, 2009

Ever wonder why the Four Corners out west meet up perfectly, yet Florida has a wandering panhandle? Why Connecticut’s northern border is perfectly linear but has a small square cut-out near the south-western corner? Mark Stein answers those questions and more in How The States Got Their Shapes (Collins, $14.99) as he takes us on a tour of American history and the quite literal formation of the American landscape.

How the States Got Their Shapes Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061431395
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Paperbacks - April 7th, 2009

Simon Winchester is a storyteller of rare caliber. The common thread for his diverse biographical sketches is eccentricity, and in his newest book, The Man Who Loved China (Harper Perennial, $15.99), Joseph Needham, Cambridge scientist, leftist, freethinker, accordionist, folk dancer, and nudist, certainly qualifies. A young married Cambridge Fellow, Needham fell in love with a Chinese university student and then in turn became infatuated with and studied the Chinese language, Chinese history, and all the mysteries of the Middle Kingdom.  In 1943, with China in the midst of the Japanese occupation, he made his first of many trips to the country, visits which eventually produced a 24-volume encyclopedia of Chinese civilization. More than 50 years after the passionate love affair began, and two years after his loyal wife died, Needham married the Chinese student. When she died two years later, he asked three other women to marry him.  They all declined.

The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060884611
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - April 28th, 2009