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NONFICTION: An English farmer finds balance between sustaining his family and sustaining the land. "Pastoral Song" by James Rebanks; Custom House (294 pages, $28.99) ——— When James Rebanks was a child, he used to help his father and grandfather on their farms in the hilly Lake District of England. Fields of barley, hay and oats; some sheep, some cows, some pigs; a kitchen garden. The work was ...

"Seeing Serena" by Gerald Marzorati; Scribner (272 pages, $26) ——— Game, set, matchless. For years, no one could touch Serena Williams. She’s won a record 365 women’s singles matches at major tournaments, four Olympic gold medals, and was ranked best women’s singles player in the world eight times. And the last time, in January 2017, she not only reached that honor at 35 — the oldest female ...

T.J. Newman spent four years in Illinois going about her business in the most benign way imaginable — studying musical theater, surrounded by Central Illinois farmland. And now, thanks to T.J. Newman, and the pandemic, and general anxiety, but mostly T.J. Newman: no thank you, I don’t feel like flying. Pop culture offers no shortage of reasons to avoid commercial airlines. Snakes on a plane. ...

Americans who have been cooped up at home, dreaming of vacations, are excited to explore the world again armed with the inoculations that are rolling out here.

CHICAGO - It will take all six of the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" movies to fill the 17 hours and 20 minutes on Qantas' new flight from Chicago to Brisbane, Australia. The 8,901-mile flight, which begins operating next spring, will become the longest nonstop flight operating out of O'Hare International Airport, nudging aside an Air Zealand flight to Auckland that covers 8,181 miles. ...

SYDNEY, Australia - The view over Sydney's harbor is postcard-perfect. Long blue fingers of water reach into the metropolis, creating peaceful mini-harbors cluttered with sailing ships. Yellow ferries and gleaming yachts crisscross the harbor, surrounded by a city of cliffs, palms, evergreens and, beyond, the famous beaches of Bondi and Manly. The Opera House, ceramic sails unfurled, sits at ...

"The Farmer's Son: Calving Season on a Family Farm" by John Connell; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (241 pages, $25) ___ John Connell's memoir "The Farmer's Son" opens with Connell in a barn on the family farm in Ireland, both arms shoulder-deep inside of a cow. He's helped with births before, but this is the first time he's done it alone. "My father has been in charge of the calving for ...

"Horizon" by Barry Lopez; Knopf (572 pages, $30) ___ For more than 40 years, Barry Lopez has been one of our great writers on the environment and the human relationship to it. His prose is beautiful, but what makes his nonfiction books, starting with "Of Wolves and Men" and his National Book Award-winning "Arctic Dreams," so memorable is the sweeping reach of his mind. He makes connections you ...

In this week's spring crop of new paperbacks: two Seattle-area authors, and a long wait comes to an end. "Us Against You" by Fredrik Backman (Washington Square Press, $17). "If Alexander McCall Smith's and Maeve Binchy's novels had a love child, the result would be the work of Swedish writer Fredrik Backman," wrote Washington Post reviewer Bethanne Patrick. This novel, a sequel to Backman's ...

CHICAGO - Daniel Immerwahr is not an outwardly provocative guy. He is slender and mild, from suburban Philadelphia, comes off serious, but not arrogant, smartly appointed, but not flashy. His office in the history department at Northwestern University is standard issue, rectangular, lined with books, a few personal artifacts, but nothing striking. He has a tattoo on his right arm of the ...

Time for a new paperback? Consider one of these: "The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border" by Francisco Cantu (Penguin, $17; out Feb. 5). In this memoir, Cantu writes of his years working for the U.S. Border Patrol. "In an often raw and timely confessional," wrote a Minneapolis Star Tribune review, "the former Fulbright fellow and Pushcart Prize winner paints a striking picture of ...

What better way to begin the new year than with a new book? Here are six possibilities, all newly out or arriving soon in paperback. "Force of Nature" by Jane Harper (Flatiron Books, $16.99). Harper's first novel, "The Dry," set in a parched farming community in Australia where a family has mysteriously been slaughtered, was one of my favorite page-turning reads last summer. "Force of Nature" ...

A baby monkey with a knack for detective work, a mysterious green creature that takes up residence in an Australian farmhouse, and a 9-year-old stuck in a Russian-style summer camp are among the chief attractions of an exciting year in children's literature. There's also a book-length poem about feeling different from your classmates by National Book Award-winner Jacqueline Woodson, and a wise ...

"How to Be a Good Creature" by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Rebecca Green; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (200 pages, $20) ___ It was animals that sent Sy Montgomery into a deep, nearly suicidal depression - and animals that rescued her and pulled her back. In "How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals," Montgomery writes about her profound connection with animals, all animals, and ...

"The Best Bad Things" by Katrina Carrasco; MacMillan (400 pages, $27) ___ Katrina Carrasco's "The Best Bad Things" vividly creates the world of 1880s Port Townsend; we hear it, we see it, and we smell it. The warm air of the post office is "reeky with mildew, tallow, unwashed woolens"; an imports office smells of "ink, parchment, the polished sourness of brass"; a decrepit boardinghouse's ...

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Alexander McCall Smith - overachiever, master of the understatement - sounds a bit apologetic as he explains that he has lost track of the number of books he's written. "I actually really stopped counting," he said in a recent phone interview from his home in Scotland. "That sounds a bit pretentious, I'm afraid, but if you count the children's books, it's over 100. So it's quite a number." ...

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"Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila" by James M. Scott; W.W. Norton (640 pages, $32.95) ___ It's hard to imagine that a major monthlong battle from World War II - one that devastated a large city, caused more than 100,000 civilian deaths and led to both a historic war crimes trial and a Supreme Court decision - should have escaped scrutiny until now. But history has ...

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