Rag and Bone

Watching an ultrasound of his unborn daughter swimming in the dark soup of the womb offered Peter Manseau more than just a glimpse of the infant soon to make her way into his arms. It put him on the road to another discovery. ?These bones are where belief begins,? he mused seeing the baby?s tiny limbs. And so began his wondrous journey to teach her, ?that faith is strange and beautiful and sometimes scary,? by way of exploring the stories behind a diverse collection of sacred relics the world over. Relics, those fragments of flesh, bone, or fabric believed to be taken from the holiest people to walk the earth, have been revered for thousands of years by the faithful of many religions. According to Manseau?s vivid descriptions, they are indeed as strange, beautiful (and sometimes downright scary) as the faiths that preserve them. From the Catholics? prodigious and peculiar assortment including the purported prepuce of Jesus (which he did not actually view) and the ?chewed piece of licorice? said to be the tongue of St. Anthony (which he and hundreds of others stood in line for hours to see), to a surreal traveling Buddhist reliquary, on to Kashmir?s most sacred Muslim treasure: Prophet Muhammad?s chin whisker, and others, Manseau?s unerring eye for detail makes for a fascinating travelogue. But it?s more than that. Drawing on history, spiritual traditions, legend and contemporary reports, this book is a totally exuberant compendium of human beliefs, certain to satisfy devotees of all stripes, ?because make explicit what we all know in our own bones: that bodies tell stories; that the transformation offered by faith is not just about, as the Gospels put it, the ?word made flesh,? but the flesh made word.?

April 16: ""Blue pottery vases and bowls for flowers are most attractive, and certain blue books...will repeat and emphasize color."

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…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
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.