French medieval historian Anne-Marie Eddé separates fact from fiction -- reality from myth -- as she parses the exploits and accomplishments of Saladin (aka Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub), the Kurdish leader credited with recapturing Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187, defeating Richard the Lionheart, and uniting the Muslim world. From this deeply researched narrative, a picture emerges of a complex man viewed in the context of his era, and the ensuing era that man helped define.

April 15: "A page...will begin with some principles of astronomy, or the motion of the earth; then come the laws of sound..."

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…