It’s January, and many of us are buried under snow and/or the general malaise of midwinter. Put down the shovel and pick up a copy of one of these engaging January books guaranteed to entertain and brighten your mood (quotes are from the Kirkus reviews).

The Most Dangerous Man in America by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis: “Minutaglio and Davis, who collaborated previously on Dallas 1963 (2014), deliver a rich and frequently hilarious chronicle of the Nixon administration’s 28-month pursuit of one very slippery old hippie, Timothy Leary.”

The Last London by Iain Sinclair: “An unconventional, atmospheric exploration of London from one its most unique chroniclers….This is no ordinary memoir, but we wouldn’t expect such from one of England’s most inventive psychogeographic writers. Patience will reward each reader in his or her own way.”

Swearing Is Good for You by Emma Byrne: “Written in an engaging and conversational style, BBC journalist Byrne’s first book touches many bases when it comes to her approach to swearing: sociology, history, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, and more….Although quite profane at times—understandably so—Byrne provides a refreshing, entertaining, instructive examination.”

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Bringing Columbia Home by Michael D. Leinbach: “On Feb. 1, 2003, the Columbia space shuttle went silent upon re-entry. Here are the principal Eric body details about the accident, the recovery of the wreckage and human remains, the reassembly, the discovery of the cause, and the consequences for the shuttle program….A gripping account of a fatal tragedy and the impressive and deeply emotional human response that ensued.”

Here Is Real Magic by Nate Staniforth: “A magician conjures up memories, dreams, and reflections on his craft….Magic can be unnecessarily flashy, but this book isn’t flashy at all; it’s an assured and thoughtful work about finding true ‘awe and wonder.’ ” 

Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor.