Contraband Cocktails: How America Drank When It Wasn't Supposed To (Melville House) by Paul Dickson is an informal history of prohibition concentrating on changes in drinking patterns and recipes.
Ruth Bernard Yeazell, in Picture Titles: How and Why Western Paintings Acquired Their Names (Princeton University Press), tells a surprising story within art history.
From the Shadows: The Architecture and Afterlife of Nicholas Hawksmoor (Reaktion Books) by Owen Hopkins is an appreciation of a unique architect and his strange buildings.
Invisible Ink: My Mother's Secret Affair with a Famous Cartoonist (Fantagraphics Books) by cartoonist Bill Griffith divulges family secrets.
In Gratitude (Knopf), Oliver Sacks makes his goodbyes.
Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World (David R. Godine, Publisher) by Valerie Lester tells of a superstar punchcutter.
The Last Volcano: A Man, a Romance, and the Quest to Understand Nature's Most Magnificent Fury (Pegasus Books) by John Dvorak tells of a volcano pioneer.
How to Watch a Movie (Knopf) by David Thomson has good instruction for film fans
Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World (Knopf) by Tim Whitmarsh reveals a universality of disbelief.
My Adventures with Your Money: George Graham Rice and the Golden Age of the Con Artist (St. Martin's Press) by T. D. Thornton brings a skilled con man out of obscurity.
4. Ho ho ho -- Downtown Open House heralds the holidays ENTERTAINMENT