by Candace Bushnell

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A middle-aged playboy, a nouveau riche couple, a grande dame gossip columnist and the requisite surgically enhanced tartlet are among the residents of Manhattan's One Fifth Avenue, where societal maneuvering and sexual escapades are as de rigueur as the marble countertops in the occupants' sleek kitchens. Tensions escalate in this upscale nest when hedge fund millionaire Paul and his socialite wife move in, setting off a chain of catty intrigue. The moneyed Manhattan media scene is familiar, entertaining territory for Sex and the City creator Bushnell—even if most of the characters are as two-dimensional as the society party pics they pore over the morning after.

by Philippa Gregory

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Fans of Gregory's Tudor novels (The Other Boleyn Girl) await a new one like a box of decadent, mouth-watering bonbons. Her latest features the mercurial, oversexed Mary Queen of Scots. Set during Mary's imprisonment under orders of her cousin Queen Elizabeth, the story roils with secret schemes, treasonous plots and coded messages stuffed in shoe heels. Mary's "hostess," Bess of Hardwick, is nearly ruined by the exiled queen's narcissism—including her insistence on 32-course meals and her seduction of Bess's husband. Mary's hell-bent assuredness and ability to turn men into pudding combine deliciously with brisk chapters and rich historical detail. Indulge.

"I've never, ever, in 51 years, done a play that has come easy to me. And I've fallen over in every play [too] ... I can't keep upright." —JUDI DENCH

"Courage [is] not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. I felt fear myself ... but I hid it behind a mask of boldness." —NELSON MANDELA

Next up for the author: The Carrie Diaries, two teen novels about her Sex and the City heroine's high school days. "People will be surprised to learn," Bushnell confides, "that Carrie was a math whiz."


GOING HUNGRY edited by Kate Taylor
Eighteen women writers—and one man—share memories of anorexia's tenacious grip in this eye-opening collection.

DEWEY by Vicki Myron
Shoved into an Iowa book drop one night, Dewey the cat then spent 19 years as the library's famous kitty-in-residence. Warm and fuzzy.

EPILOGUE by Anne Roiphe
72-year-old author Roiphe's brave, not unhopeful account of life after widowhood. Think The Year of Magical Thinking, with online dating.

"Society is obsessed with youth," notes photographer Andrew Zuckerman in Wisdom, his collection of portraits and interviews with well-known figures over age 65. "I've never understood that ... [Older people] have all the secrets." Some they shared:

• "There will be another billion people here by 2020," says Hot, Flat, and Crowded author Thomas L. Friedman. His ideas on how we should prepare:

An "earth" race—like the space race—with China, India, Europe, to see which one of us can create clean power technologies first.

The people in China tell me it's their turn [to pollute]. They say, "The U.S. ate the entrée and said, 'Let's split the bill.'" It's unfair, but they can either complain or help.

Incremental change—205 easy ways to go green—isn't enough. We need laws supporting a carbon tax and renewable energy. This is not a hobby; it's a revolution.