Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far

Usually, graphic designers are know as formulators -- with emphasis on form -- making what others have to say look good. But industry darling Stefan Sagmeister (best known for creating iconic album covers for the likes of Lou Reed and David Byrne) has produced an unbound book illustrating his own aphoristic maxims, and the globetrotting shenanigans he employed to stage them: the result is worth not just reading, but beholding. First, TIHLIMLSF is a fun thing to play with -- a die-cut cardboard box (outlining the author's face) with contents that can be shuffled to create radically different "covers." Muppet blue! Mad monkey mask! Pimples! Silly, but irrationally satisfying.Sagmeister not only has a mighty morphing mind, he also literally puts a lot of himself into his work. This monograph of projects represents a series of performance-art-stunt extremes: he dangled his legs outside an Empire State Building office window holding a sign and traveled to a shuttered amusement park in Singapore to erect bamboo scaffolding spelling out words on a man-sized scale. That he convinced his corporate clients to underwrite these wacky, costly endeavors is itself impressive. In the final analysis, the greatest value this exuberant catalogue offers is as a creative challenge; he makes it clear that if a merry prankster like him can have this much (lucrative) fun, so can you.

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.