Quick Picks 

1. THE PATH OF MINOR PLANETS, by Andrew Sean Greer (Picador, $23): Berkeley astronomers travel to a tropic zone to see a comet, then straggle and self-destruct through the rest of the '60s in this ambitious if self-consciously smart debut novel by a San Francisco guy.

2. EXPAT, edited by Christina Henry de Tessan (Seal, $16.95): East Bay authors are among the 22 women holding forth on living abroad in a collection that spans the globe -- from gutting a Chinese chicken to wearing Armani in Belfast -- but often trades content for identity politics.

3. LOSING GEMMA, by Katy Gardner (Riverhead, $13): Two best-pal Brits meet disaster on an India trip in this unassumingly smooth chick-lit page-turner, which gets the darks and lights of friendship absolutely right.

4. THE INTERTIDAL WILDERNESS, by Anne Wertheim Rosenfeld (UC Press, $24.95): Watch the watery world turn Day-Glo in a photographic Pacific Coast extravaganza that shows how carnivorous and carnal our whelks truly are. Don't miss what can only be called an anemone cum-shot.

5. I HAVE SEEN THE WORLD BEGIN, by Carsten Jensen (Harcourt, $28): All those callow narratives about Asia (and there are hundreds by now) fade like incense smoke against this meaty work by a Danish journalist, so elegantly incisive that you can almost taste blood.

6. TASTE OF INDONESIA, by Helena Soedjak (Snow Lion, $16.95): With its usual lavish production values and airtight authenticity, the Berkeley press presents user-friendly recipes for sweet yucca snacks and more.

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