My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner

Every family has its quirks, but wait until you meet Meir Shalev's Grandma Tonia. This warm, delightful memoir by the Israeli author of the novel A Pigeon and a Boy introduces readers to an unforgettable woman whose battle with dirt mirrors the struggles she faced after emigrating from Russia to Palestine in 1923. Shalev's idiosyncratic clan is singular in its strange ways, but may yet remind you of your own meshugana mishpacha.

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

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…