Women Of Will: The Remarkable Evolution Of Shakespeare’s Female Characters by Tina Packer. (Vintage) Packer, a founding director of the Shakespeare & Company theater, traces how the playwright’s relationship to women evolved throughout his body of work and draws on her familiarity with many of his most notable female characters. As she put it in the book’s introduction, the “long journey to discover the truth that lay below the surface of the women in Shakespeare” was “a path that allowed me to see my own life.”

Prudence by David Treuer. (Riverhead) In the 1940s, Frankie, a handsome Princeton student, returns to his family’s Minnesota resort for a last visit before joining the war efforts overseas. He is joined there by his family, a Native American caretaker and his childhood friend (and eventual secret lover), Billy. Treuer’s novel follows the consequences of a single day that reverberate throughout characters’ lives.

The Italians by John Hooper. (Penguin) Fifteen years as an Italy-based journalist for publications like The Economist and The Guardian have prepared Hooper to explain and interpret the country’s idiosyncrasies (whether baffling or charming). Italy’s geography, religion and history have had profound influences on the country and its culture.

Munich Airport by Greg Baxter. (Twelve, $14.99.) Baxter’s darkly comic novel tells the story of Miriam, who lived in Berlin for years but kept her distance from her brother, an American expatriate living in London, and her father, a retired professor of medieval history. After she is found dead of anorexia, her brother and father come to Germany to retrieve her body, and grieve an incomprehensible death.

Death Of A King: The Real Story Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year by Tavis Smiley with David Ritz. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) Nearly 50 years after his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “martyrdom has undermined his message,” Smiley notes in the introduction to this book. Bolstered by interviews with King’s previous biographers, friends and associates, the book traces the civil rights leader’s last year and adds nuance to his legacy.

After Birth by Elisa Albert. (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Two new mothers in an upstate New York college town navigate the terrain of maternity and selfhood. The story, a meditation on female bonds, motherhood and independence, depicts “a rapturously intimate friendship of a kind rarely captured in novels,” reviewer Merritt Tierce said.

Girl In The Dark: A Memoir Of A Life Without Light by Anna Lyndsey. (Anchor) Writing pseudonymously, the author describes the onset of a devastating, full-body sensitivity to light. Despite the author’s excruciating circumstances and restricted senses, her writing “reveals the quiet, ingenious consciousness of a poet,” Natalie Kusz wrote in The Times.

New York Times