"Once Upon a Time, There Was You" by Elizabeth Berg

Prolific novelist Berg writes of a long-estranged couple who are thrust into each other's lives when their beloved 18-year-old daughter needs help. (Ballantine Books, $15)

"County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital" by Dr. David A. Ansell

A behind-the-scenes look at one of the nation's most desperate urban hospitals from a Chicago doctor who has spent his career fighting health inequities. (Academy Chicago Publishers, $29.95)

"A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War" by Amanda Foreman

If your wrists can handle the heft of 1008 pages, this extraordinary historical tome provides an entirely new perspective on the Civil War, rife with novel characters and fresh insight. (Random House, $35)

"Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice" by Ivan Brunetti

Elegant guide to the elements of cartooning from a master. This slim book will charge the heart and soul of anyone who has ever blackened their fingers with a pencil and a dream. (Yale University Press, $13)

"Claim of Innocence" by Laura Caldwell

It's always a bad idea to poison your best friend. (Mira, $7.99)

"We All Fall Down" by Michael Harvey

You were right to be worried about germs on the el. The Emmy Award-winning journalist and documentary producer Harvey has penned a terrifying apocalyptic tale in which a deadly pathogen has been released in the Chicago train system. (Knopf, $24.95)

"Relative Strangers: Italian Protestants in the Catholic World" by Frank Cicero Jr.

Cicero Jr. turns to his ancestors to understand how Italian immigrants carved a new life for themselves in Chicago despite the vast religious differences. (Academy Chicago Publishers, $32.50)

"Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife" by Gioia Diliberto

All eyes are trained on the ever-fascinating Hadley Richardson whose life, thanks to magnificent works like this biography, is only now being more carefully considered. (Harper Perennial, $15.99)

"Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father's Search for the Wild" by Tom Montgomery Fate

This tech-swamped, married suburbanite's musings have been compared to Thoreau. (Beacon Press, $24.95)

"The Borrower" by Rebecca Makkai

When a children's librarian discovers a 10-year-old boy camped out in the library, she becomes determined to help him run away from his parents. Once on the road, she has some second thoughts. (Viking, $25.95)