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Book Review Roundup: What Does The Guy Who Killed Pluto Have To Say For Himself?

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"How I Killed Pluto: And Why It Had It Coming" by Mike Brown
The New York Times

But Dr. Brown has a unique distinction: He was, for a few hours in 2005, the only person on Planet Earth to know that the standard nine-planet solar system model was going to require rejiggering. He had just discovered a 10th potential planet, but he had also come to see that neither Pluto nor this new heavenly body (first nicknamed Xena, then officially named Eris) really measured up to the other eight.

"And the Pursuit of Happiness" by Maira Kalman
The New York Times

Really, it's more like an impromptu interpretive dance about our country, executed in fat, frolicky color, unprissy brushstroke, a smattering of pleasantly pedestrian photo­graphs and perfectly rambunctious penmanship.

"Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas" by Rebecca Solnit
The New York Times

In the ambitious and mostly delightful "Infinite City," Solnit offers "a small, modest and deeply arbitrary rendering of one citizen's sense of her place in conversation and collaboration with others." To that end, she enlists cartographers, artists, lepidopterists and tribal activists to illuminate San Francisco via multiple angles and contrasting topics.

"Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life With Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969" by David Eisenhower with Julie Nixon Eisenhower
The Los Angeles Times

It's easy to imagine the response those actions would draw from today's conservatives, and David Eisenhower's account of the 1964 Republican convention reminds us that his grandfather wasn't popular with the party's right wing back then either. Barry Goldwater called Eisenhower's administration "a dime-store New Deal" and declined to soften any of his ultraconservative positions at a post-convention news conference with Eisenhower that was intended to bolster party unity. "I thought that Goldwater was just stubborn," Eisenhower remarked on the ride home to Pennsylvania. "Now I am convinced that he is just plain dumb."

"Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery, and the Genius of the Royal Society" Edited by Bill Bryson
The Los Angeles Times

In the age of the Kindle and the Nook, it is an enormous pleasure to pick up and leaf through a book like "Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery, and the Genius of the Royal Society." It has a satisfying heft; it makes you want to sink into a hammock. Its smooth, creamy pages are liberally strewn with engravings, portraits of many of the members (international and no longer exclusively male), and illustrations of artifacts from the Society Archives -- including a photograph of Newton's death mask, which editor Bill Bryson found "transfixing" on his tour of the basement storeroom.

"A Voice From Old New York" by Louis Auchincloss
The Wall Street Journal

Louis Auchincloss died in January at age 92, having devoted his life to law and literature. He worked as a lawyer until retiring at 69, but his writing continued--in all, he produced nearly 70 books, including novels, short stories, biographies and literary criticism. Death did not still the flow of words. Now comes a posthumous memoir of his youth, "A Voice From Old New York."

"Designs On The Body" by Lyn Reeves
The Seattle Post Intelligencer

Reading Lyn Reeves' Designs on the Body immediately brings to mind the condition of Synesthesia. There's a cognitive power here as we move between the senses, mingling touch with sound, sight, scent into an instant hit that puts the reader directly into the scene. The poems are all, in one way or another, grounded in the physical world of immediate sensation; at the same time they are infused with affect.

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