Picks and Pans Main: Books

updated 03/14/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/14/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Sing You Home

by Jodi Picoult |

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Picoult, who's created a cottage industry out of family melodrama and medical controversies, has crafted another winner in this story about music therapist Zoe Baxter and her decade-long struggle to become a mother. After a round of IVF ends in the devastating birth of a stillborn son, Zoe is still willing to try again, but she is blindsided when her husband, Max, bails out on their marriage. Divorced, Zoe unexpectedly falls in love with, and marries, a woman. But when the couple seek to use leftover frozen embryos to start their family, Max, now a born-again Christian, seeks advice from his pastor, who has vowed to battle the "homosexual agenda." Before you can say "Heather has two mommies," the former spouses find themselves at odds in a courtroom filled with lawyerly theatrics and witness-stand revelations. As both sides battle it out in court, Picoult cleverly examines the modern world of reproductive science, how best to nurture a child and what, exactly, being a family means.

The Information

by James Gleick |

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Overwhelmed by the jet-propelled pace of today's news, tweets and texts? From our high-tech gizmos to the essentials coded into our DNA, information fuels our world and sometimes makes us feel as if we are being swept away. Bestselling science and technology writer Gleick (Genius) gives a brilliant, panoramic view of how we save and communicate knowledge-from ancient African drumming to alphabets, the telegraph, radio, telephone and computers-and provides thrilling portraits of the geniuses behind the inventions. Provocative and illuminating, the book's theories about our information age might seem geared toward science and math junkies, but Gleick's message is more universal: that information provides us with infinite possibilities, leading to brave new worlds we can only imagine.

Emily and Einstein

by Linda Francis Lee |

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For her 20th novel, Lee collars the dog-fiction trend in a tale about a timid New York editor, Emily, whose husband is killed by a car, then comes back as her rescue pet, a mutt named Einstein. Emily's trials escalate as she faces eviction from her swanky apartment-and learns her spouse was a cheat. His attempts to redeem himself as the dog are predictable. But Lee delivers a breezy diversion, peppered with tidbits from life among privileged New Yorkers.

Skipping A Beat

by Sarah Pekkanen |

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When Julia's husband, Michael, suffers cardiac arrest during a business presentation, she's immersed in her life as a party planner and wife to a multimillionaire. Michael recovers, but he isn't the same. Suddenly he wants to renounce the trappings of wealth and repair their empty marriage. This portrait of a couple forced to take responsibility for the breakdown of their relationship is at once heartbreaking and familiar.

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