Reason, Faith, and Revolution
by Terry Eagleton
(Yale, $25)
This slim book’s “wisecracking” tone is misleading, said Andrew O’Hehir in More than a spirited attack on the “childish and arrogant” atheism of such popular writers as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, this is “one of the most fascinating, most original, and prickliest works of philosophy to emerge from the post-9/11 era.” Unreformed Marxist Terry Eagleton abhors mindless religious faith, but he claims solidarity with Christians everywhere when he declares “the ultimate signifier of the human condition” to be “the tortured and murdered body of a political criminal.”

Born to Run
by Christopher McDougall
(Knopf, $25)
The most mundane lesson you’ll take from Christopher McDougall’s new book is that running barefoot is far better for the body than running in padded shoes, said Abe Streep in Outside. But when McDougall tracks down the elusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, he offers a compelling glimpse into the possibly crucial role of long-distance running in human development. His climactic account of a 50-mile footrace “reads like a sprint”; the whole book “simply makes you want to run.”

One Square Inch of Silence
by Gordon Hempton
(Free Press, $26)
Gordon Hempton is a bit of a “puritanical scold,” said Brian Miller in Seattle Weekly. In 2007, the graying acoustic engineer undertook a cross-country road trip in order to lobby federal officials to protect one square inch of national park land from all human-generated noise. His account makes clear he’s a difficult traveling mate. His observations, however, are “tremendously valuable.” This is a man who notices when noise causes songbirds to change their tunes; he can hear and describe the difference between a Northwestern and Northeastern stream.

Origins of the Specious
by Patricia T. O’Conner
(Random House, $22)
Former New York Times editor Patricia O’Conner “can be sarcastic to the point of intolerance about people who uphold certain rules of grammar,” said Alexandra Mullen in the Barnes & Noble Review. If you can abide the snarkiness, O’Conner’s brief in favor of a tolerant approach to language usage is likely to deliver a “humorous trifle” or “useful nugget” just about every time you dip into it. “Her enthusiasm for the vagaries and fillips of English—­its messy ‘wiggle room’—is infectious.”