Some Remarks

Famed for his brilliant, wrist-taxing novels such as Anathem and Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson proves equally virtuosic at shorter lengths. The erudite essays in his first nonfiction collection cover disparate topics unified by the author's geeky enthusiasm. Laying trans-Pacific cable, the benefits of switching to a treadmill desk, the "innovation starvation" that plagues contemporary science fiction -- all these subjects and more are traversed with joy and insight.

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…