The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery (Little, Brown) by science writer Sam Kean tells how we got a little understanding of what goes on in our heads.
John F. Kasson's The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America (W. W. Norton) is more than a book about the child star.
Veni, Vidi, Vici: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Romans but Were Afraid to Ask (Atlantic Books) by Peter Jones is history and fun, too.
From Pompeii: The Afterlife of a Roman Town (Belknap/Harvard) by Ingrid D. Rowland tells of how visitors, including famous ones, came to see the ruins.
Ruth Richardson's Dickens and the Workhouse: Oliver Twist & the London Poor (Oxford University Press) tells how she discovered his childhood home.
Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by Their Trace Fossils (Pegasus Books) by Anthony J. Martin tells of footprints, nests, and more.
The Greatest Movies You'll Never See: Unseen Masterpieces by the World's Greatest Directors (Cassell Illustrated), edited by Simon Braund, helps us imagine what might have been.
Nature's Nether Regions: What the Sex Lives of Bugs, Birds, and Beasts Tell Us about Evolution, Biodiversity, and Ourselves (Viking) by evolutionary biologist Menno Schilthuizen is full of sexual surprises.
In Jumbo: The Unauthorized Biography of a Victorian Sensation (Aurum Press), John Sutherland tells how we treated the most famous of elephants, and others.