Damned Nation: Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction (Oxford University Press) by Kathryn Gin Lum shows the American version of a scare story.
Lucy Worsley's The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock (Pegasus Crime) tells how the detective story came to be.
Art Deco Mailboxes: An Illustrated Design History (W. W. Norton) by Karen Greene and Lynne Lavelle is a study in practical design.
Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) by Alexandra Watkins is an expert's take on commercial naming.
Ziauddin Sardar's Mecca: The Sacred City (Bloomsbury) is a history of a sacred place marked by discord.
In The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution (W. W. Norton), Jonathan Eig gives a tale of sociology, medicine, religion, and activism.
Peter Ackroyd's Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life (Nan A. Talese) is an appreciation of the artist and an acknowledgement of his many flaws.
Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America's First Bohemians (Da Capo Press) by Justin Martin is essential reading for those interested in American literature.
In Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One's Looking (Crown), Christian Rudder crunches the numbers, and learns lessons.
American Cornball: A Laffopedic Guide to the Formerly Funny (Harper) by Christopher Miller reviews what used to make us laugh (and still does).