God's Hotel

Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco is the last American survivor of an institution that goes back to the Middle Ages -- an almshouse whose sole function is to care for the sick and the destitute. Victoria Sweet's journey there -- as a doctor, as a student of the hospital's astonishing history, and as a human being -- constitutes one of the most moving, and eye-opening memoirs of the year.

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…