Holy Bones, Holy Dust

A piece of the True Cross is the least bizarre item in Charles Freeman's fascinating and unprecedented examination of the holy relics that shaped the course of medieval empires, as Christian rulers more concerned with prestige than sanctity vied for possession of a saint's hair or blood, all to impress their peers and subjects.

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…