Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up (University of California Press) by Mary Beard is a serious look at old, old jokes.
Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies (Ballantine Books) by Lawrence Goldstone tells of the patent fights as the airplane was developed.
The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery (Little, Brown) by science writer Sam Kean tells how we got a little understanding of what goes on in our heads.
John F. Kasson's The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America (W. W. Norton) is more than a book about the child star.
Veni, Vidi, Vici: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Romans but Were Afraid to Ask (Atlantic Books) by Peter Jones is history and fun, too.
From Pompeii: The Afterlife of a Roman Town (Belknap/Harvard) by Ingrid D. Rowland tells of how visitors, including famous ones, came to see the ruins.
Ruth Richardson's Dickens and the Workhouse: Oliver Twist & the London Poor (Oxford University Press) tells how she discovered his childhood home.
Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by Their Trace Fossils (Pegasus Books) by Anthony J. Martin tells of footprints, nests, and more.
The Greatest Movies You'll Never See: Unseen Masterpieces by the World's Greatest Directors (Cassell Illustrated), edited by Simon Braund, helps us imagine what might have been.
2. A Southern favorite: Rick Bragg to speak in Fayette ENTERTAINMENT