What to read in January

An adulterous psychiatrist, two legendary American explorers, the metaphysical aspects of navel lint, the new Richard Price and more in the month's best fiction.

Published January 17, 2003 11:34PM (EST)

January is a dreary month, full of dutiful resolutions and post-holiday ennui, but if one of your vows is to read more, here's a batch of books that will make fulfilling it a pleasure. After a year-end crop of lightweight gift titles, the January releases tend to be meaty, the sort of books that make you think about who you are, where you're going and what life is all about, anyway.

If you want adventure when you settle into your reading chair, dive into a new novel about the Lewis and Clark expedition. If you prefer a heady mixture of sex, art and high drama, there's a fictionalized version of the life of the Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev. Richard Price goes back to the mean streets of Dempsy, N.J., to spin a gripping tale and to ask what it means to live a virtuous life. And if you've envisioned your New Year's reading as more of a small-screen affair, then Nicholson Baker's latest exploration of the big thoughts that spring from small things may be just the ticket.

Our first pick: In this novel about the Lewis and Clark expedition, Lewis is a haunted man half in love with his partner

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