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New books by Susan Jacoby, Kate Hamer and Nikhil Goyal

"Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion" by Susan Jacoby (Pantheon, February 2016) Credit: Pantheon

STRANGE GODS: A Secular History of Conversion, by Susan Jacoby. The author of “Freethinkers” and “The Age of American Unreason” explores the history of religious conversion from a decidedly nonreligious perspective, taking in experiences from St. Paul to Muhammad Ali and the millions of contemporary Americans who change faiths in their lifetime. (Pantheon, $29.95)

THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT, by Kate Hamer. Thrillers with the word “Girl” in the title are a dime a dozen these days, but this one, already a bestseller in England, stands out. It’s a tale told from alternating viewpoints: one from a mother who has lost her 8-year-old daughter at an outdoor festival; the other from the girl herself, snatched by a man claiming to be her grandfather. (Melville House, $25.95)

SCHOOLS ON TRIAL: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice, by Nikhil Goyal. A 20-year-old graduate of Syosset High School (class of 2013) named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list, Goyal offers a critique of testing-based educational reform and argues for schools that foster creativity and harness children’s innate love of learning. (His alma mater doesn’t get off scot-free.) (Doubleday, $26.95)

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