Notable | Nothing new under the sun
Three new books take a look at the countless ways our past — as a culture and a species — shapes us.
On the Origin of Tepees: The Evolution of Ideas (and Ourselves) (Free Press) by Jonnie Hughes is a science writer's journey through the American Midwest to study everything from the wording of jokes to the shapes of cowboy hats in an effort to understand how ideas develop and survive.
Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to its Own Past (Faber and Faber) by Simon Reynolds is a noted music critic's analysis of why we're so mad for sequels and remakes, reunion tours and mashups — and what will happen when we run out of past to recycle.
Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life: A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition, and Complexity Are Revolutionizing Our View of Human Nature (Basic Books) by Douglas T. Kenrick, a psychologist, uses cutting-edge 21st century science to examine how deeply we are influenced, for better and worse, by our ancient ancestors.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor