TIME TO START THINKING: America in the Age of Descent, by Edward Luce. (Atlantic Monthly, $26.) To restore its waning competitiveness, America will need a much more effective federal government, Luce, a British journalist, warns. . . .REVIEW.
NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT, by Nadine Gordimer. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Veterans of the anti-apartheid movement navigate the new South Africa in the Nobel Prize-winner’s wise 15th novel. . . .REVIEW.
ARCADIA, by Lauren Groff. (Voice/Hyperion, $25.99.) Groff’s lush and visual second novel begins at a rural commune, and links that utopian past to a dystopian, post-global-warming future. . . .REVIEW.
REVELATIONS: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation, by Elaine Pagels. (Viking, $27.95.) The author of “The Gnostic Gospels” places the biblical book of Revelation in the context of other ancient narratives of visions and prophecy. . . .REVIEW.
THE IDEA FACTORY: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation, by Jon Gertner. (Penguin Press, $29.95.) This well-researched history asks the critical question: What causes innovation? . . .REVIEW.
LANGUAGE: The Cultural Tool, by Daniel L. Everett. (Pantheon, $27.95.) Language arose from “Cognition + Culture + Communication” rather than a Chomskyan inborn “language organ,” a linguist argues. . . .REVIEW.
POCKET KINGS, by Ted Heller. (Algonquin, paper, $13.95.) Heller’s novel about a failed writer offers an unlikable protagonist, vivid writing and a comic depiction of our most disgraceful inner states. . . .REVIEW.
WONDER, by R. J. Palacio. (Knopf, $15.99; ages 8 to 12.) A boy with severe facial deformities is the hero of this rich and memorable first novel. . . .REVIEW.
THE OBSTINATE PEN, by Frank W. Dormer. (Holt, $16.99; ages 4 to 8.) A tale about a pen with a mind of its own makes a point about artistic inspiration. . . .REVIEW.
The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: http://www.nyt.com/pages/books/index.html