Velázquez and The Surrender of Breda: The Making of a Masterpiece

New Yorker writer Anthony Bailey (Vermeer: A View of Delft) uses one of 17th-century Spanish painter Diego Velázquez's most celebrated works, "The Surrender of Breda," a large-scale narrative painting depicting the transfer of the keys to the Dutch town of Breda to Spain in 1625, to anchor a portrait of the artist and his time. Filled with rich detail and lush descriptions, this book, like the painting that inspired it, is remarkable for both its scope and its intimacy.

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…