Big Vape: The Incendiary Rise of Juul by Jamie Ducharme

If the title character played by Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown ever got hold of this book, she would drop her vaping habit quicker than you could order a hoagie. But as Jamie Ducharme vividly describes in her riveting book, breaking the habit would not be easy, and that is exactly what the inventors of the Juul vaporizer intended.

Invented as a way to wean folks off cigarettes by heating but never burning flavored nicotine e-liquids, Juul can be just as addictive as smoking cigarettes. The difference: its marketing was aimed squarely at young people. Ducharme has created a saga that is as entertaining as it is alarming to read, perhaps while sipping one of the Manhattans favored by Mare’s mom. Another habit, yes, but not one sold as deceptively as Juul.

Photographic Presidents: Making History from Daguerreotype to Digital by Cara A. Finnegan

Anyone who got a chuckle from the recent photograph of the Bidens visiting the Carters in their Georgia living room—the one in which the Bidens looked like N.B.A. stars and the Carters like Munchkins—will appreciate Cara A. Finnegan’s fascinating dissection of how presidents used and misused photography to burnish and protect their images.

J.F.K. was a master (who can forget the photo of him in silhouette in the Oval Office as he leans over a table, or the one with John-John playing under his father’s desk?), as was F.D.R., who managed to ensure that there was little visual evidence of his inability to walk. Carter and Nixon did not play the game as well, to their detriment, but Ford showed his image-making skills by allowing himself to be photographed making English muffins in the White House.

It is too early to tell, but Biden does not seem as savvy as Obama in the image-making department. A note of fairness, however: Biden the Gargantua was due to a wide-angle lens used in the small living room by the White House photographer, who is duty-bound not to alter a photo once it is snapped.

The Third Pole: Mystery, Obsession, and Death on Mount Everest by Mark Synnott

There are those obsessed with climbing Mount Everest and those, content to stay at sea level, obsessed with reading about those with the ice picks and ropes. Mark Synnott’s new book, named after the peak once dubbed the “Third Pole,” after explorers had already reached the North and South Poles for the first time, is as rewarding as any Everest book can be, with history and geography wonderfully woven into the author’s own climb, in 2019.

Synnott had a very specific goal: to find the body of the man who had accompanied George Mallory on his famous and fatal climb, in 1924—and to retrieve the man’s Kodak camera as well. No spoilers here, other than to say Synnott has written the ideal book for those who savor a great adventure, absent the frostbite.