Etelka Lehoczky

Magical realism is a tricky genre: tricky to describe and tricky to get right. When an author does get it right, as Tillie Walden does with Are You Listening?, pinpointing exactly how they did it can be tricky as well. A whole host of intangibles supports the fragile balance between truth and wonderment in a book like this, and trying to nail them down feels a bit like shouting out the secret at a magic act. Exposing the hidden wires wrecks the trick, and knowledge is no substitute for the joy a well-spun illusion gives.

Like any good story about a scientific discovery, Walter A. Brown's account of the history of lithium features plenty of improvisation, conjecture and straight-up kismet.

Unlike many such stories, though, it also features a fair share of personal bias, senseless puttering and random speculation — on part of these scientific researchers.

"Shame is a cruel thing," writes George Takei in They Called Us Enemy, his new graphic novel about his childhood years in an American concentration camp during World War II. "It should rest on the perpetrators, but they don't carry it the way the victims do."

There are some people who can look at complex equations — this one, for example:

If you want a nice little boost to your aesthete's ego, here's a fun exercise: Pick out a seemingly forgettable artwork and give it your attention.

When young urbanites move into poor neighborhoods in search of cheap rents and local color, they often get more than they bargained for. What they don't usually get are body parts spilling over toilet bowl rims and face-eating tentacles crawling out of ventilation systems. That's the kind of visceral revenge meted out in BTTM FDRS, Ezra Claytan Daniels and Ben Passmore's comedic horror comic. Daniels, who wrote BTTM FDRS, and Passmore, who illustrated it, wanted to distill the complex politics of gentrification into digestible (well, really fairly indigestible) form.

If you were to make a list of professions in which women have failed to achieve a fair share of renown, one of the topmost entries would surely be architecture.

Think you know the suburbs? Well, it might be time to revisit.

At least, that's what Amanda Kolson Hurley, a senior editor at urban news site CityLab, wants you to do. Kolson Hurley is well-acquainted with suburbia's numerous negative stereotypes — some of them, such as racial segregation and ecological threat, all too valid. But in Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City, Kolson Hurley sets out to reveal a different side of the vast patchwork of not-quite-urban, not-quite-rural zones in which more than half of Americans live.