Human beings are biologically wired to be fascinated by novelty. But how do we keep the constant flow of new products, ideas, and data from overwhelming us? Winifred Gallagher (the author of Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life) digs into our natural inclination toward the new and offers ways to distinguish passing fancy from permanent improvement.

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…