The Hemlock Cup Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life, by Bettany Hughes, Vintage, 484 pages, $18.95
This is a lively and clever life of the profound philosopher who more or less created (through his pupil Plato) methods of intellectual inquiry that are still dominant. Enthusiastic, energetic and finally moving portrait of a man, a place, an age.
We Bought a Zoo By Benjamin Mee, Anchor Canada, 261 pages, $19.95
This tie-in edition to the Matt Damon-Scarlett Johansson film is the tale of one man’s crazy dream, of a tragic loss and of the redemptive power of 200 exotic animals.
The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp By W.H. Davies, Melville House, 253 pages, $17
This latest entry in the estimable Neversink Library marks a most welcome return for an unjustly forgotten autobiography by W.H. Davies, a Welshman who tramped around a violent late-19th-century America and a more sedate Britain. A wild book from a unique voice. Unforgettable.
Molotov’s Magic Lantern Travels in Russian History, by Rachel Polonsky, FSG, 390 pages, $18.95
Inspired by the library and lantern of major Russian apparatchik Vyacheslav Molotov, British journalist Rachel Polonsky takes us on a remarkable journey through the Russian mindscape as well as the landscape. A fascinating tour of a rich culture and literature.
Dinosaur in a Haystack Reflections in Natural History, by Stephen Jay Gould, Belknap/Harvard, 480 pages, $20.95
Whether he wrote on evolution, the relationship between science and religion or baseball, the late zoologist Stephen Jay Gould was invariably thoughtful and elegant. This stimulating 1995 collection of essays is one of six volumes reissued in a uniform edition.
The Concise Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature Edited by William Toye, Oxford, 694 pages, $34.95
From aboriginal legends and tales to Jan Zwicky, the second edition of this indispensable guide to all things CanLit updates the 2001 original to 2007, with nods as recent as 2010; 42 new entries cover younger writers and newer publishers.
Class Warfare By D.M. Fraser, Arsenal Pulp Press, 179 pages, $17.95
Crossings By Betty Lambert, Arsenal Pulp Press, 292 pages, $19.95
To commemorate Vancouver’s 125th birthday, the city has partnered with several B.C. publishers to reprint great works from Vancouver’s past. Arsenal Pulp has reissued these two legendary titles from the 1970s. D.M. Fraser’s collection of stories, a call to arms for the disenfranchised, was first published in 1974. Betty Lambert’s Crossings traces the relationship between Vicky, a woman writer in Vancouver, and her abusive logger boyfriend.