By Erin Kelly; Mark Borden; Nicholas Stein

(FORTUNE Magazine) – In City of God (Random House), we learn that Einstein "had a habit of calling God the Old One." Posted on this message board of a novel, this incidental fact falls between a pot-smoking priest turned detective and a philosophical riff on "Me and My Shadow." But unlike some of his fellow postmodern practitioners--Pynchon, Foster Wallace--Doctorow fuses masterful wordplay with surprising portability (272 pages), making his novel as enjoyable at the beach as it is for a graduate English seminar. --NICHOLAS STEIN

How does a brand of shoes like Hush Puppies suddenly--with no advertising--become a fashion statement? Why did the number of children in Baltimore born with syphilis stay fairly constant for years, then jump 500%? Both Hush Puppies and syphilis hit that moment when a trend or social movement "tips" and spreads everywhere. It's the subject of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point (Little Brown)--a fascinating book that makes you see the world in a different way. --ERIN KELLY

Books about sex are rarely sexy, and Make Love, Not War (Little Brown) is no exception. David Allyn chron- icles the sexual revolution of the '60s and '70s with anecdotes and data on subjects ranging from the monokini to group sex. His scholarship lends historical perspective, but those hoping for a stimulating read (and those who believe the revolution is still being fought) will be disappointed. --MARK BORDEN