Fiction, nonfiction picks for summer by Allen Pierleoni


The Goldfinch

Donna Tartt

Little, Brown, $30, 775 pages

Donna Tartt proved herself an artist and storyteller in her two previous novels, “The Secret History” and “The Little Friend.”

In this provocative and addictive third act, which won a Pulitzer Prize, she puts the Big Issues on the table: love, loss, kindness, cruelty, trust, betrayal, regret, survival, redemption. Along the way: forgery, theft, intrigue, black markets, gangsters, drug abuse, gunplay and high adventure.

The adult Theo Decker narrates his life’s story, beginning with a tragedy that will color everything that comes after. In the confusion and panic of a terrorist attack inside an art museum, during which his mother is killed, the dazed 13-year-old Theo misinterprets an injured man’s request and takes the priceless 1654 Dutch painting “The Goldfinch.”

A simple act of theft on the face of it, yet one with a spiderweb of compelling consequences.


“Don’t Put That in There!

Aaron E. Carroll and Rachel C. Vreeman

St. Martin’s, 288 pages, $14; on sale July 1

In separate studies over 50 years, researcher Alfred Kinsey and the team of William Masters and Virginia Johnson pioneered research into the sexuality of American men and women. It was groundbreaking data and, at the time, the talk of the nation.

Now pediatricians Carroll and Vreeman modernize the foundation in this hip, informative and amusing debunking of our most dearly held sexual myths.

The book is sectioned into “Men,” “Women,” “Sex,” “Getting Pregnant” and “Sexually Transmitted Infections,” and the chapters show us how misguided we can be.

“People believe many myths, half-truths and outright lies when it comes to sex,” they write in the introduction.

“Even if you like talking about sex, you might not be as eager to ask questions about whether your ideas about sex are correct.”

Will condoms protect you from everything? Can you safely kiss an HIV-infected person? Is there really a 10-year difference in sexual peaks? These and many other issues are clarified once and for all.

If it’s true that there can’t be enough sex education, then “Don’t Put That in There!” is definitely recommended reading.