Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America

You?ve come a long way, baby, as this illustrated timeline highlighting the achievements of women in America demonstrates. The book, which grew out of a traveling exhibit of the same name, consists of brief descriptions of more than 900 women, both famous and forgotten, who have impacted the nation, mostly through politics, academe, business, technology, or the arts. The most stirring entries involve those who dared to defy the gender norms of their day, like the women who took up arms in the Revolutionary War, spoke out against slavery, and marched for suffrage. A number of entries provide interesting trivia, including the fact that women invented paper grocery bags (Margaret Knight, 1870) and Kevlar (Stephanie Kwolek, 1965). Many describe females who were firsts in their fields, and some of these are more momentous than others -- I appreciated reading that Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, for The Age of Innocence, but can?t say I felt edified upon learning that Margaret Petherbridge Farrar was the first woman to create a crossword puzzle book. While this unabashedly celebratory book is feminism at its softest and fuzziest, it?s enjoyable to flip through and would make a fine Mother?s Day gift, certainly sparking more interesting conversation than another bouquet of flowers.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

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Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.