All Things Shining

"It is not only species of animal that die out, but whole species of feeling," says Conchis in John Fowles's The Magus. "And if you are wise you will never pity the past for what it did not know, but pity yourself for what it did." What the past knew and what it can still teach us, through the works of Homer, Dante, Melville, and others, explain philosophers Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly in this brief but bracing book, is how to respond to the world with wonder and gratitude. It's an inspiring argument, and they're right.

April 21: " 'Pull' includes 'invitations to tea' at which one hears smiling reminders that a better life is available to people who stop talking about massacres..."

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…