Winter King

Henry VIII and his wives hog the spotlight when modern readers look back at England in the 1500s. But his father boasted an exemplary reign of some twenty-four years, during which time many foundation stones of the monarchy were laid. Penn turns the life of this savvy, bold, and yet under-appreciated ruler -- last king of England to earn his crown in battle -- into a magical tapestry full of court intrigue, personal triumphs, and unmitigated disasters, in which figures most prominently the charming Catherine of Aragon.

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…