“A French quadrille is a dance of four couples.” Imani Perry, South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation.

“Frozen snow, severe frost. Midwinter.” Henning Mankell, The Man from Beijing.

“The Reagan Revolution had arrived, and it was off to a shaky start.” Nicole Hemmer, Partisans: The Conservative Revolutionaries Who Remade American Politics in the 1990s.

“Miss Minerva Winterslip was a Bostonian in good standing, and long past the romantic age.” Earl Derr Biggers, The House Without a Key.

“Since its establishment by an act of Congress in 1790, Washington, DC, has attracted men and women from every segment of American society.” James Kirchick, Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington.

“On a hot night in Apartment C4, Blandine Watkins exits her body.” Tess Gunty, The Rabbit Hutch.

“Back when the war that would consume the world was a worry but not yet a fact, a remarkable man came to the attention of the US military.” Malcolm Gladwell, The Bomber Mafia.

“The whole thing began with a blunder on my part, an entirely innocent piece of clumsiness, a gaffe, as the French call it.” Stefan Zweig, Beware of Pity.

“Long before he was famous for wandering the West, John C. Frémontgrew up in a family that wandered the South.” Steve Inskeep, Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Frémont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War.

“Myron Bolitar used a cardboard periscope to look over the suffocating throngs of ridiculously clad spectators.” Harlan Coben, Back Spin.

“Imagine that four teams of friends have gone to a shooting arcade.” Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein, Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment.

“On screen, a woman lounges on a rubber float, her face toward the sun, fingertips trailing in the water.” William Landay, Mission Flats.

“A little after three o’clock in the afternoon, the wooden door behind the defendant’s dock slid open and Hans Frank entered courtroom 600.” Philippe Sands, East West Street.

“It was to have been a quiet evening at home.” John D. MacDonald, The Deep Blue Good-By.

“In my twenty-five years of teaching I have tried to make people realize that cooking is primarily fun and that the more they know about what they are doing, the more fun it is.” James Beard’s Theory and Practice of Good Cooking.

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