They're kidding, kind of
Three new books bring the attitude.
Ascent of the A-word: A--holism, the First Sixty Years (Public Affairs) by Geoffrey Nunberg, linguist and NPR commentator, looks at the history of this surprisingly new (World War II vintage) pejorative and its meaning.
Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession (Simon & Schuster) by Chuck Thompson is a provocative road trip to the Creation Museum, a Klan supply store and other Southern stops plus a reimagining of what a divided nation would look like today.
How Not to Read: Harnessing the Power of a Literature-Free Life (Perigee) by Dan Wilbur is a hilarious self-help sendup worth the price just for the book titles rewritten to be accurate — The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo becomes This Is the First Book I've Read in Six Years.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor