On the North Shore of Long Island, not far from where I grew up, sits the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. A place of scientific legend, it’s where Dr. James Watson and Dr. Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA, which governs the inner workings of cells. It’s also a place of family legacy; my grandmother worked at “the lab,” as we call it, and my aunt still works there. In high school, my sister interviewed for a position, and family lore has it that Dr. Watson walked by the open door of the office during her interview.

Alison Gopnik’s latest book, The Gardener and the Carpenter, differs from most parenting books in two important ways. For one thing, Gopnik rejects the word parenting, which she associates with the conventional idea that children are molded or built rather than grown. The second is that a great number of individuals, from siblings to grandparents, contribute to the caring and loving of a child; this book honors that shared network of child-rearing, which stretches far beyond parents.

In her new memoir, A Body, Undone: Living on After Great Pain, Christina Crosby seeks to understand her life following a catastrophic bike accident that left her a quadriplegic. A professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies at Wesleyan University, Crosby approaches her subject—herself—from both a personal and scholarly perspective, drawing from her extensive background in philosophy, psychology and queer studies. The book is fascinating and painful, humiliating and beautiful.

My childhood was not one of running. I swam and biked and turned cartwheels on the balance beam my dad built in the backyard, and I swung from monkey bars until calluses formed on my palms—but I wasn’t one to hustle for the soccer ball, much to my mother’s chagrin, and I loathed running the mile. In one especially disheartening middle school fitness test, I jogged around an endless quarter-mile track, eventually finding friends who seemed to be going at my pace. I soon discovered they were finishing their fourth lap, while I was still on my third.

In the new book Lit Up: One Reporter. Three Schools. Twenty-Four Books That Can Change Lives, David Denby, a film critic for The New Yorker, goes back to high school. To be exact, he joins English 10G at the Beacon School in Manhattan, taught by a Louisiana Irishman, Sean Leon. Denby’s reasons for being there are varied and at times vague, but they center on whether a love of literature can be taught—and what that looks like in today’s high schools.