THE STATE WE'RE IN: Maine Stories, by Ann Beattie. No one writes a short story quite like Beattie does. The best of them are found in the anthologies "Park City" and "The New Yorker Stories," but it's been 10 years since her last collection. This new volume assembles 15 stories, all set in Maine, where Beattie lives part of the year. The common setting seems incidental though; what unifies these gems is the author's droll, off-kilter perspective on the human race. (Scribner $25)

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WALKING WITH ABEL: Journeys with the Nomads of the African Savannah, by Anna Badkhen. The author, a war correspondent for various publications, followed a West African Fulani family as they herded their cattle across the Sahara, from the dry-season camp to the rainy-season camp. The book is a portrait of their centuries-old way of life and an examination of the modern phenomena -- Islamic militants, climate change -- that threaten their way of life. (Riverhead, $27.95)

WE BELIEVE THE CHILDREN: A Moral Panic in the 1980s, by Richard Beck. Four decades ago, some 190 American day care workers were charged with abusing children, and more than 80 were convicted. An editor at the literary magazine n+1 revisits the hysterical atmosphere of the time, with accusations of bizarre satanic rituals, intensive interrogations of young children and circuslike media coverage. The case of Great Neck teacher Arnold Friedman, also the subject of a documentary, "Capturing the Friedmans," is one of many covered here. (PublicAffairs, $26.99)