To live in the experimental Alcott household known as Fruitlands must have been fraught with dizzying chaos and unease, but to read about Bronson Alcott's madcap 19th-century utopian schemes is pure pleasure. Richard Francis transports us  to a time when America was only half-fashioned, and any wild-eyed dream seemed capable of enactment.

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…