The Lost Battles: Leonardo, Michelangelo, and the Artistic Duel That Defined the Renaissance (Knopf) by Jonathan Jones gives insight into a couple of lost monumental paintings.
Thornton Wilder: A Life (Harper) by Penelope Niven gives a life in superb detail.
In The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary (Granta; to be published in America by the University of Chicago Press in April), Caspar Henderson tells us of fantastic beasts that are not fantasies.
Mighty Lewd Books: The Development of Pornography in Eighteenth Century England (Palgrave Macmillan) by Julie Peakman is a study of historic English pornography.
Carola Hicks gives art history and more in The King's Glass: A Story of Tudor Power and Secret Art (Pimlico).
The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos (House of Anansi Press) by Neil Turok gives a history of physics and cosmology, and a hopeful look at what science can do for us.
The Sounds of Capitalism: Advertising, Music, and the Conquest of Culture (University of Chicago Press) by ethnomusicologist Timothy Taylor is a history of music in American advertising.
Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafés of Urban Ghana (MIT Press) by Jenna Burrell is a sociological study of young Ghanaians online.
Some Girls, Some Hats, and Hitler: A True Love Story Rediscovered (Scribner) brings back Trudi Kanter's lost memoir.
In Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus (Viking), Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy give the history, science, and folklore of rabies.