PT Bookshelf

The Rise of Viagra: How the Little Blue Pill Changed Sex in America

By Meika Loe (New York University Press)

Ads and spam tell us that 36-hour-long erections are the key to

self-esteem for men, while the search for a "female Viagra" promises to cure the other half of humanity. Sociologist Loe documents the

discoveries and the hype that is Viagra's legacy -- from physician Giles Brindley dropping his pants to show hundreds of colleagues his chemically induced erection in 1983 to Bob Dole's confessions. In the process, Loe challenges drug companies' definitions of normal sex and normal aging.

The Unending Mystery: A Journey Through Labyrinths and Mazes

By David Willis McCullough (Pantheon)

McCullough presents an engrossing look at the mythologies and symbolism inherent in mazes and labyrinths. Using dissections of some of the world's most famous mazes from ancient sites in the Mediterranean to modern manifestations in the South Bronx, McCullough is able to maintain curiosity and interest throughout his deeply detailed and academic investigation of the enigmatic world of mazes.

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Attitude! Eight Young Dancers Come of Age at The Ailey School

By Katharine Davis Fishman (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin)

From The Red Shoes to Billy Elliot, dancers who leap their way toward their dreams always pull heartstrings. Fishman tracks students at the prestigious Ailey School and teases apart factors in their creative development, such as raw talent and familial support. The intrinsic joy of expression is what these offbeat kids share: After a rigorous ballet rehearsal, a group of boys spontaneously breaks into a Charleston riff and then bursts into applause -- for themselves and for one another.

Profilers: Leading Investigators Take You Inside the Criminal Mind

John H. Campbell and Don DeNevi, eds. (Prometheus)

It's TV in book form! Sort of. Profilers covers the same ground as Court TV and popular crime programs like CSI, but with a drier approach: This volume can read too much like an average psychology text book. Still, those intrigued by autoerotic murders, eye-gouging attacks and fire-setting firefighters will find plenty of fascinating detail about how law enforcement tackles these crimes.

The Know-it-all: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

By A.J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster)

An intellectual dilettante decides to educate himself by reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, then writes this book in A-Z format to document his painful progress. Jacobs weaves together odd facts and deft humor into a narrative thread: He and his wife want a child, and the book is as much a story of their hopes and frustrations as it is a catalog of knowledge. It's a pleasure to read -- and you might learn something.

Adventures with the Buddha:

A Buddhism Reader

Jeffery Paine, ed. (W.W. Norton & Company)

Spanning from 1920s Tibet to the present-day United States, Paine's collection follows the spiritual travels of nine Westerners as each learns the Buddhist way of life. Though easily digestible, it sheds rare insight into the struggles of four women who help make Buddhism accessible for non-Asians, including one U.S. teen taught by the Dalai Lama and later ordained as a Buddhist nun.

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