When Cheryl Strayed began a three-month solo hike from southern California to the state of Washington, she was fleeing a daily life shattered by her mother's death and her marriage's dissolution. This chronicle of a transforming experience in the wildnerness shines with wisdom, humor, and clear-eyed descriptions of the natural world that opened to the author's gaze for the first time. 

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…