"Woodsburner," by John Pipkin
Woodsburner springs from a little-known event in the life of one of America's most iconic figures, Henry David Thoreau. On April 30, 1844, a year before he built his cabin on Walden Pond, Thoreau accidentally started a forest fire that destroyed three hundred acres of the Concord woods - an event that altered the landscape of American thought in a single day. Against the background of Thoreau's fire, John Pipkin's ambitious debut penetrates the mind of the young philosopher while also painting a panorama of the young nation at a formative moment. Pipkin's Thoreau is a lost soul, plagued by indecision, resigned to a career designing pencils for his father's factory while dreaming of better things. On the day of the fire, his path will intersect with three very different local citizens, each of whom also harbors a secret dream. Each of their lives, like Thoreau's, is changed forever by the fire.
"The Song is You," by Arthur Phillips
Julian Donahue is in love with his iPod. Each song that shuffles through "that greatest of all human inventions" triggers a memory. There are songs for the girls from when he was single; there's the one for the day he met his wife-to-be, and another for the day his son was born. But when his family falls apart, even music loses its hold on him, and he has nothing. Until one snowy night in Brooklyn, when his life's soundtrack - and life itself - starts to play again. He stumbles into a bar and sees Cait O'Dwyer, a flame-haired Irish rock singer, performing with her band and a strange and unlikely love affair is ignited. Over the next few months, Julian and Cait's passion for music and each other is played out, though they never meet. As their feeling grow more feverish, keeping a safe distance becomes impossible. What follows is a love story and a uniquely heartbreaking dark comedy about obsession and loss.
"The Smartest Animals on the Planet," by Dr. Sally Boysen
The idea that species other than humans can think, solve problems and share new behaviors has long captivated us, so much so that scientists around the world devote their entire lives to animal cognition research. In the wild, they observe species for weeks, months, and years at a time, watching and recording every move as they come to understand individual personalities. Intelligence studies conducted in captivity recreate problems to see how animals respond, and cognition studies survey if animals can be taught to use words. Research in animal intelligence focuses on a variety of animals such as apes, monkeys, whales, otters, elephants, rats, crows, horses, honeybees, lions and even salamanders. You will read about the most exciting of these studies and what the most recent data tells us.
"The Photographer," by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefevre and Frederic Lemercier
At the end of July 1986, Didier Lefevre left Paris for Afghanistan. He barely returned to tell the tale. It was his first major assignment as a photojournalist, documenting a Doctors Without Borders mission. Camera in hand, Lefevre traveled with a band of doctors and nurses into the heart of Northern Afghanistan, where the war between the Soviet Union and the Afghan Mujahideen was raging. The mission affected Lefevre as profoundly as the war affected contemporary history. His photographs, paired with the art of Emmanuel Guibert, tell the story of an arduous journey undertaken by men and women intent on mending with the others destroy.
"The Last Indian War," by Elliott West; "Cooking Know-How," by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough; "Oh, Johnny," by Jim Lehrer; "Tunneling to the Center of the Earth," by Kevin Wilson.