THE MILLIONAIRE AND THE BARD: Henry Folger's Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare's First Folio, by Andrea Mays. The First Folio -- the posthumous 1623 publication of Shakespeare plays that ensured his immortality -- is today the world's most valuable book. In his day, American industrialist Henry Clay Folger (1857-1930) was one of the big spenders willing to shell out for the First Folio; his collection of 82 copies was the basis for Washington, D.C.'s Folger Library. (S&S, $27)

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DAUGHTERS OF THE SAMURAI: A Journey From East to West and Back, by Janice P. Nimura. In 1871, long before foreign exchange programs were common, the Japanese government sent five girls to the United States to learn Western ways. Three of them -- daughters of samurai, raised traditionally -- lived in this country for 10 years, forming strong ties. Nimura chronicles their stay, and their return to a homeland that was now a foreign land. (Norton, $26.95)

BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL'S HOUSE, by Andrew Ervin. When his life and career implode, a Chicago ad executive picks up and moves to the remote Scottish island of Jura, where George Orwell wrote his dystopian classic "Nineteen Eighty-Four" in the late 1940s. Ervin's debut novel follows in the tradition of classic comedies where a supposedly cosmopolitan outsider tests his welcome in an insular old-world village. Both come in for some good-natured satire. (Soho Press, $26)