Books

New in Paperback: ‘Dear Los Angeles’ and ‘The Fifth Risk.’

DEAR LOS ANGELES: The City in Diaries and Letters 1542 to 2018, edited by David Kipen. (Modern Library, $17.) Organized by days of the year, this collection gathers personal writings on historical events like wars and elections alongside observations of everyday life. The book “deepens and expands and flyspecks our view of Los Angeles,” The Times’s Dwight Garner wrote.

THE FIFTH RISK, by Michael Lewis. (Norton, $16.95.) Lewis tracks the transformation of the federal government’s day-to-day workings under Trump, from the president-elect’s objections to the legally required task of planning a transition, to his appointment of inexperienced leaders intent on shrinking or privatizing federal agencies. In these pages, Joe Klein called it Lewis’s “most ambitious and important book.”

FINDING DOROTHY, by Elizabeth Letts. (Ballantine, $17.) In this novel based on real-life events, Maud Baum, the widow of the author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” makes her way onto the set of the movie, befriending the vulnerable Judy Garland. “As with all great historical fiction, the allure … is the curiosity it inspires,” our reviewer, Susan Ellingwood, wrote.

MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MANUSCRIPTS: Twelve Journeys Into the Medieval World, by Christopher de Hamel. (Penguin, $25.) This lavishly illustrated volume delivers an up-close look at surviving medieval manuscripts, beginning with the sixth-century Gospels of St. Augustine. “On this archival odyssey, I lost count of the things I learned,” Helen Castor wrote in these pages, calling it “one of the least likely and most wonderful books I have ever read.”

GODSEND, by John Wray. (Picador, $17.) Based loosely on John Walker Lindh, who fell in with the Taliban and was captured as an enemy combatant during the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, this novel’s protagonist is an adrift 18-year-old California girl who disguises herself as a man to become a jihadist. The Times’s Dwight Garner called it “a significant literary performance.”

NORTH OF DAWN, by Nuruddin Farah. (Riverhead, $17.) In this novel a secularized Somali Muslim couple enjoying a middle-class life in Norway take in the fundamentalist widow of their radicalized son, who died in a suicide bombing. “Farah is a deeply sophisticated writer, his prose almost aromatic, like rich, sweet Somali tea,” our reviewer, Melanie Finn, wrote, calling the book “a nuanced, quietly devastating family soap opera.”

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