THE STRANGE ORDER OF THINGS: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures, by Antonio Damasio. (Vintage, $17.) Damasio, a well-known neuroscientist, makes a case for the centrality of feelings and emotions in human history. Unlike other accounts that focus on cognition and are largely unconcerned with the role of affect, his book reframes the history of humans and the natural world, putting feelings at its core.
THE PISCES, by Melissa Broder. (Hogarth, $16.) In this darkly funny novel, a depressed and stalled graduate student finally meets her dream date — who turns out to be half fish. As our reviewer, Cathleen Schine, put it, Broder “approaches the great existential subjects — emptiness, loneliness, meaninglessness, death and boyfriends — as if they were a collection of bad habits.”
SHARP: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion, by Michelle Dean. (Grove, $17.) In breezy biographical chapters on 10 writers, including Susan Sontag, Joan Didion and Pauline Kael, Dean explores their successes and failures and their relationship to feminism. Above all, she considers the double-edged nature of the word “sharp”: It’s a compliment with an undertow of terror, she writes. “Sharpness, after all, cuts.”
THE IMMORTALISTS, by Chloe Benjamin. (Putnam, $16.) In late 1960s New York, the Gold children visit a fortuneteller known for predicting the dates when people will die. The four siblings grapple with the prophesies over the next 50 years: One heads West for San Francisco, and another becomes a scientist, researching the possibility of living forever. For each, the knowledge turns out to be both a blessing and curse, and all must try to balance their desires and choices with their predetermined destinies.