A list of newly released paperbacks.

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Fiction

“Aloft”
by Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead, $14). In his latest novel, the author of “Native Speaker” portrays a 59-year-old widower whose love of air travel has a lot do with wanting to get away from reality. Valerie Ryan called this “a masterful treatment of a man coming to terms with his own disaffection.”

“Snakepit”
by Moses Isegawa (Vintage, $14). A terse, charged tale by the Amsterdam-based Ugandan novelist (“The Abysinnian Chronicles”), about a naive, self-interested Cambridge graduate who comes home to Idi Amin’s Uganda thinking he’ll have great job prospects there, now that all the Asians have been kicked out.

“One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead”
by Clare Dudman (Penguin, $14). Impressive first novel about German scientist and Arctic explorer Alfred Wegener (1880-1930), who, in the face of much ridicule, pioneered plate-tectonics theory. Dudman’s description — whether of an ice-quake, a dockside farewell or a lecture going wrong — brings Wegener alive on every page.

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“Kings of Infinite Space”
by James Hynes (Picador, $14). A government-office technical writer (and cat-drowner) finds himself haunted by his feline-loving dead wife in a book that Nancy Pearl called “a very funny, very macabre novel, filled with unforgettable characters (the living dead among them).”

“A Hole in the Universe”
by Mary McGarry Morris (Penguin, $14). A novel about a former street kid suddenly trying to make a life for himself after 25 years in jail for murder. Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett called this a “haunting novel.”

“The Maze”
by Panos Karnezis (Picador, $14). A hypnotic, dreamlike novel about a Greek army platoon retreating homeward, following their country’s ill-advised 1921 invasion of Turkey. Karnezis (“Little Infamies”) is a Greek author who writes in English.

“How to Breathe Underwater”
by Julie Orringer (Vintage, $12.95). A debut collection of stories about young girls struggling to grow up in tough circumstances. Melinda Bargreen noted that “the stories unfold with a kind of inevitability even as they surprise you with final scenes of shocking urgency.”

“The Road to Ruin”
by Donald E. Westlake (Warner, $6.99). A classic-car collection becomes the focus for a heist scheme, in a novel by an author whom Adam Woog dubbed the “mad-scientist genius of the caper story.”

“The Princes of Ireland”
by Edward Rutherfurd (Ballantine, $16.95). The latest novel by the author who’s the closest thing we’ve got to a James Michener successor offers an epic vision of Irish character and history, from pagan times to the founding of the Free Irish State in 1922.

Nonfiction

“Alexander Hamilton”
by Ron Chernow (Penguin, $18). The noted biographer (“Titan”) takes on the life of the founding father who was the first secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department. Steve Raymond called this “an incredibly thorough account” that “will pay handsome returns, plus interest.”

“Blue Blood”
by Edward Conlon (Riverhead, $16). Memoir by a Harvard-educated New York Police Department detective, detailing six years of his life on the beat. Sarah Anne Wright said the book was “rife with potent vignettes and a huge cast of characters.”

“The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms”
by Amy Stewart (Algonquin, $12.95). A look at the amazing capabilities — including compost creation and plant-disease eradication — of our underground friends. Irene Wanner called this “unexpectedly captivating reading.”

“In the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat”
by Rick Atkinson (Owl, $14). A Washington Post reporter who was “embedded” with the 101st Airborne Division gives his account of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Steve Raymond observed that Atkinson’s “split decision on the conduct of the war — praise for American troops, contempt for their political leaders — provides provocative food for thought.”

“Peninsula of Lies: A True Story of Mysterious Birth and Taboo Love”
by Edward Ball (Simon & Schuster, $13). The National Book Award winner (“Slaves in the Family”) tells the story of Southern transsexual Dawn Langley Simmons and her taboo interracial marriage. Tyrone Beason said the book “brilliantly illustrates the glories and perils of personal reinvention.”

“Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer”
by Lynne Cox (Harcourt, $14). The English Channel, Bering Strait, the Strait of Magellan — Cox has swum them all. Ginny Merdes called her memoir “a standout in this class.”

“The World: Life and Travel, 1950-2000”
by Jan Morris (Norton, $16.95). A selection of the travel writer’s short articles, both pre- and post-sex change (until 1972 Jan was “James”). Steve Weinberg said the book “serves as a wonderful introduction to Morris’ writing.”

“The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus”
by Owen Gingerich (Penguin, $15). A book about the author’s 30-year search for all extant copies of Copernicus’ “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium libri sex,” the first book to argue that the Earth rotated around the sun. David B. Williams wrote, “Gingerich makes palpable the excitement of holding a treasured book in one’s hands.”

“The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness”
by Karen Armstrong (Anchor, $14). The former Catholic nun who became a writer on religious topics recalls her tough early years when she was coping with undiagnosed epilepsy and eroding faith. Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett called Armstrong “a careful and persuasive writer,” but felt she dwelt too exhaustively “on the bitter injustices done by the institutions that have marked her unusual life.”

“The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power”
by Joel Bakan (Free Press, $14). The book stemming from the documentary of the same name, in which the Canadian author argues that “the corporation is created by law to function like a psychopathic personality, whose destructive personality, if unchecked, leads to scandal and ruin.”

“The New New Journalism: Conversations with America’s Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft”
by Robert S. Boynton (Vintage, $13.95). A paperback original gathering of probing interviews with writers including Ted Conover, Susan Orlean, Jon Krakauer and numerous others.

Compiled by Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times book critic, with contributions cited from staff or freelance critics for The Seattle Times.