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Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation

Tim Hamilton

Hill & Wang, $30/hardcover, $16.95/paperback

Given that it's one of the most popular dystopian works ever, Fahrenheit 451 needs little introduction. This "graphic translation" of the modern classic comes from publisher Hill & Wang, known for illustrated adaptations like The 9/11 Report and The U.S. Constitution. The book stays true to Ray Bradbury's 1950s gem, largely because Bradbury (who writes the foreword) was consulted "every step of the way"; he even signed off on additions of modern technology (for instance, a Bluetooth-like earpiece and wall-sized TVs). Considering that Bradbury has confessed to being an ardent comic collector, who would like to see his own books in comic form, Hamilton's creative illustrations could be considered long overdue. As could you if you haven't yet experienced this tale of censorship in an eerie, futuristic land. — Matthew Schniper

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The Magicians

Lev Grossman

Viking, $26.95/hardcover / Release date: Aug. 11

Lev Grossman's The Magicians is like a mash-up of Harry Potter meets The Chronicles of Narnia ... on drugs, sex and rock 'n roll. Take one book-smart high school senior, send him off to an incredibly hush-hush school of magic in upstate New York, and watch the wands fly. (Well, not really — wands are so not cool, evidently). The first half of the book follows budding magician Quentin Coldwater through his years of schooling at Brakebills College of Magical Pedagogy; the second half traces his post-graduation journey to New York City, and to Fillory, a fictional land that Quentin had always wished was real. Make no mistake, this coming-of-age tale is intended for adults, or at least the same crew who grew to maturity with Daniel Radcliffe as he turned from sweet, bespectacled Harry Potter into a bare-it-all Broadway star. — Kirsten Akens

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The Whole Death Catalog: A Lively Guide to the Bitter End

Harold Schechter

Ballantine Books, $18/paperback

So, I learned if you want extra seating at the pool this summer, simply giggle intermittently while reading a big, black book titled The Whole Death Catalog. But, hey, good summer reads are hard to find. While not your typical beach book, this nonfiction collection is surprisingly light-hearted and filled with dozens of short, fact-packed items on every aspect of the big D — from designer caskets to mourning fashions — so it's easy to pick up or put down. Writing entertainingly about something as delicate as death can easily stray from being irreverent to being insulting. Thankfully, Schechter skillfully stays on the right side of the line. Whether he's exploring "Funerals for the YouTube Age," "Is Death Necessary?" or "Ten Cemeteries to See Before You Die," he manages to be interesting, intelligent and, yes, even funny. — Jill Thomas

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