Blue Nights

Joan Didion

Alfred Knopf, $25

The acclaimed writer's heartbreaking meditation on the death of her daughter at 39.

Boomerang

Travels in the New Third World

Michael Lewis

W.W. Norton, $25.95

Shrewd and lucid observations on countries where the financial tsunami has left the most damage.

Caravaggio

A Life Sacred and Profane

Andrew Graham-Dixon

W.W. Norton, $39.95

The British art historian vividly recounts the Italian master's tumultuous life and mysterious death.

The Caribbean

A History of the Region and Its Peoples

Edited by Stephan Palmié and Francisco Scarano

University of Chicago Press, $35

An illuminating work tracing the region from its pre-Columbian state through European colonialism and the economic turbulence of the 21st century.

Catherine the Great