Book Report

Arousal: Bodies and Pleasures by Martha Roth (Milkweed Editions, $20). This lyrical look at sexual desire through a woman’s eyes is intimate, insightful, and thought-provoking — a pleasure dip for both mind and soul. —Cathy Madison

The Private Death of Public Discourse by Barry Sanders (Beacon, $25). Americans have lost their “interior space,” and with it their ability to live a reflective life, Sanders argues. His prescription — embracing “true literacy” — is a call to arms for the electronic age. —Craig Cox

Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching by James A. Autry and Stephen Mitchell (Riverhead, $23.95). The best book to date on how to use Lao-tzu’s teachings on noncontrol to navigate the world of business in the late 20th century. —Hugh Delehanty

Changing Places: Rebuilding Community in the Age of Sprawl by Richard Moe and Carter Wilkie (Holt, $25). Moe (president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation) and Wilkie (an aide to Boston’s mayor) map out how America got stuck in suburban sprawl — and the routes back to a greater sense of community. —Jay Walljasper

The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America’s Dilemma by Alex Kotlowitz (Doubleday, $24.95). Kotlowitz takes a compelling look at the chasm between black and white America, focusing on two Michigan towns divided over the death of a teenage boy. —Andy Steiner

Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women by Virginia Valian (MIT Press, $30). This well-documented study delivers fresh insight into how hidden beliefs about gender make advancement hard for professional women. —Andrea Martin

When Autism Strikes: Families Cope with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, edited by Robert A. Catalano, M.D. (Plenum, $19.95). Eight real-life stories of families thrown into chaos by a child’s “autistic regression.” Not for the weak of heart. —Lynn Phelps

Machine Beauty: Elegance and the Heart of Technology by David Gelernter (BasicBooks, $20). Gelernter’s enjoyable tribute to well-designed machines is also an eloquent reminder of the importance of the artist. —Jeremiah Creedon

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