A small book packed with life-enriching mysteries, Mark Kurlanksy's latest distills the musings of thinkers from Confucius to Freud to arrive at a set of questions that may ever remain unanswered, but which nonetheless provide valuable signposts on the road to living an examined life.

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…