My Life in Middlemarch

One pivotal book can contour a whole life, if encountered at just the right moment.  So it was for Mead and Middlemarch.  Her triumph here is to make the reader care about Eliot's masterpiece as much as Mead does, and recognize the broader implications of all such literary polestars.

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…