Our staff’s selection of good reads

Blonde Like Me: The Roots of the Blonde Myth in Our Culture by Natalia Ilyin (Touchstone, $12).
From California Blondes to Innocent Blondes to Ironic Blondes, this meditation on blondeness is a thorny mix of postfeminist clichÈs and insightful observations–a fitting weave for a book that chronicles a fascination with fair hair that crosses ethnic and gender lines as well as centuries.
–Andy Steiner

In Search of Black America: Discovering the African-American Dream by David J. Dent (Simon & Schuster, $25).
In a probing collection of family profiles, Dent paints a refreshing portrait of black America that smashes the stereotypes dished up daily in the mainstream media.
–Craig Cox

Spiritual Marketplace: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion by Wade Clark Roof (Princeton, $24.95).
In this follow-up to A Generation of Seekers, Roof adds new depth to his ongoing study of America’s restless spiritual quest at century’s end. What does it say about the novel today that one of the most revealing portraits of the culture’s inner life happens to be the work of a sociologist?
–Jeremiah Creedon

Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII by John Cornwell (Viking, $29.95).
An English writer once seen as friendly to the Vatican makes a fascinating case that Pope Pius XII displayed indifference to Nazi anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. What’s more, his insistence on total papal authority played a role in crushing local dissent against Hitler among German Catholics.
–Jay Walljasper

Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction: Fifty North American Stories Since 1970, edited by Lex Williford and Michael Martone (Scribner, $16).
Don’t have time to read a good novel? Well, then sample this wonderful collection of short stories by some of today’s best authors, including Margaret Atwood, Louise Erdrich, Russell Banks, and many others.
–Mark Odegard

Halflives: Reconciling Work and Wildness by Brooke Williams (Island Press, $22.95).
Any plumbing salesman turned environmental consultant has a journey to share, but this man’s path through Mormonism, marriage, and other societal expectations both intrigues and inspires.
–Cathy Madison

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