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This Week's Hot Reads

This week: a fascinating look at how and why we make the choices we do, a German novelist's stunning coming-of-age story, a deeply honest memoir about a woman finding herself on the Great Plains, the latest from mystery master Jonathan Kellerman, and Vicky Ward’s eye-opening account of the men who made and destroyed Lehman Brothers.

04.02.10 9:24 PM ET

The Art of Choosing
by Sheena Iyengar

A fascinating look at the unexpected and complex psychology of human choice

Twenty-first-century life is all about choice, but is that really such a good thing? The answer may be more complicated than it seems, according to psychologist Sheena Iyengar, who explores the psychological and social factors behind the choices we make every day, from what groceries we buy to who we date. Iyengar explains the science of choice with both precision and her signature wit, drawing numerous comparisons to Malcolm Gladwell, who raved of her work, “No one asks better questions, or comes up with more intriguing answers.”

Broken Glass Park. By Alina Bronsky. 366 pages. Europa Editions. $15.

Broken Glass Park
by Alina Bronsky

A sharp, observant debut novel from an anonymous author

In Broken Glass Park, a debut novelist who writes under the pseudonym Alina Bronsky tells the possibly autobiographical story of Sacha, a 17-year-old living in Berlin after leaving Moscow. As Sacha navigates her new life, she also dreams of writing a novel and works on planning revenge against her stepfather, who murdered her mother and left her an orphan. Dealing with universal themes in the context of very modern problems, Bronsky adds an exciting new voice to the literary world. “Bronsky… narrates a brutal story with a sharp, canny voice” and called it “a stark, moving tale of resiliency and survival,” wrote Publishers Weekly.

Claiming Ground: A Memoir. By Laura Bell. 256 pages. Knopf. $24.95.

Claiming Ground
by Laura Bell

A refreshingly honest memoir from a woman who found her calling among the animals of the America Plains

In the James Frey era of tell-all memoirs, Laura Bell has crafted a refreshingly down-to-earth look back at her unconventional decision to leave her comfortable Southern upbringing to live on a ranch in Wyoming. It was hailed by Kirkus as “a work of descriptive virtuosity and a hard, honest pull through rough emotional terrain—an exemplary memoir.” Working as the only female herder, Bell endured harsh physical labor as well as solitude, both of which she discusses with restraint, wit, and perspective. As Bell learns how to care for herself and others through her work with the animals, she brings the reader alongside her on her journey to reclaim her sense of self.

Deception: An Alex Delaware Novel. By Jonathan Kellerman. 352 pages. Ballantine. $28.

Deception: An Alex Delaware Novel
by Jonathan Kellerman

One of America’s favorite mystery writers is back with his most intriguing character

Jonathan Kellerman is one of the best crime writers working today, and his 25th Alex Delaware novel doesn’t disappoint. This time around, Dr. Delaware pairs up with his old partner, Detective Milo Sturgi, to investigate sex and murder among the social elite of Los Angeles. As they pair are stonewalled by members of high society, they have little evidence to go on other than a DVD left next to the body of a murdered woman. It doesn’t take long to become engrossed in Deception and the Orlando Sentinel wrote, “Jonathan Kellerman’s novels are an obsession; once started it is hard to quit.”

The Devil’s Casino: Friendship, Betrayal, and the High-Stakes Games Played Inside Lehman Brothers. By Vicky Ward. 296 pages. Wiley. $27.95.

The Devil’s Casino
by Vicky Ward

A Vanity Fair journalist lifts the veil on the bizarre back-story of Lehman Brothers’ collapse

With the US still reeling from the fallout of the financial crisis, Vicky Ward has put together a definitive look at the forces that brought down the now-infamous Lehman Brothers, from an unprecedented insider’s perspective based on the diaries of the firm’s executives and candid interviews with high-ranking sources. Ward sheds light on the four childhood friends (known as the “Ponderosa boys”) who planned to take the financial world by storm while keeping their heads on their shoulders, and how quickly the second part of the plan fell by the wayside amidst a brutal corporate coup and bumbling mismanagement that brought the firm down. The Devil’s Casino serves as both an impressive work of investigative journalism and a cautionary tale of the culture surrounding American finance.

Plus: Check out Book Beast, for more news on hot titles and authors and excerpts from the latest books.