Deadly Powers

Once upon a time, humanity stood naked and armed with only a stick against a world raging with vicious predators. Paul A. Trout theorizes with elegant persuasiveness that this long night of falling prey was instrumental in the genesis of our folklore and fears. Building on Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth, Trout teases out the evolutionary wiring of our narratives about monsters, from the many-headed Hydra to the ferocious Griffin.

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…