Manhood for Amateurs Michael Chabon (Fourth Estate, £9.99) This is a series of linked essays reflecting on what it means to be a man today. Chabon starts in a supermarket with his baby son, where a random woman shopper looks at him approvingly and says: “You are such a good dad.” As he remarks, when does a woman receive praise from an onlooker simply for looking after her child? In some ways it’s easy to be a dad, but as he moves backwards to his family history and forwards to his children’s future, things get more complicated. He interweaves his memories of childhood, of his parents' marriage and divorce, with stories of his adolescence and the culture that made him what he is today. Moving from circumcision to gender stereotyping, there is plenty of food for thought.

Trick of the Dark Val McDermid (Little, Brown, £7.99) A newspaper cutting about a bridegroom found floating in the Thames after a wedding at an Oxford college arrives in the post for forensic psychiatrist Charlie Flint. It came from her old tutor, bringing back memories of her love affair at Oxford. This is a compelling page-turner, told by a master of her craft. McDermid was a student at St Hilda's College in the 1970s and draws on her undergraduate experiences in this stand-alone thriller sprinkled with a dash of romance.

Jubilate Michael Arditti (Arcadia, £11.99) This is a cheerful read, by Arditti's standards, about a group of pilgrims who travel each year to Lourdes. Two of them fall in love — one a believer, the other a sceptical observer. One tells the story forwards and the other backwards. We also learn the individual stories of their fellow pilgrims and their moral and ethical dilemmas.