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.

It’s easy to dismiss Shirley MacLaine’s musings as the wacky nonsense of an offbeat celebrity—particularly when she relates tales of her past lives or declares her beliefs in outer space aliens visiting Earth from time to time, as she does in many of her recent best-sellers. But whether you buy into her spiritual travelogues or not, it’s impossible to ignore what a charismatic writer she is. 

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.

An expert villain classically trained at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Tom Hiddleston—or Loki, as you may know him—is starring in a TV miniseries adaptation of John le Carré’s novel The Night Manager, beginning its run on AMC tonight. The 1993 book was le Carré’s first with a post–Cold War setting, and it features the master spy storyteller’s typically shaded look at right and wrong.

I’d been looking forward to the final volume in British novelist Pat Barker’s Life Class trilogy, but when I first saw the book, Noonday, on the new-fiction table at my local Barnes & Noble, the jacket photo gave me pause. It’s the famous shot by Herbert Mason of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral wreathed in smoke during the Blitz. Wait a minute, I thought: The Blitz happened in World War II. What’s going on?

A sci-fi dystopia complete with a time machine, a mad (that is, angry and crazy) scientist and a dwarfish wannabe world-conquering capitalist. A Cold War thriller complete with an MI6 mole and the pipe-smoking Oxford don–cum–secret agent charged with ferreting him out. A swords-and-sandals fantasy complete with damsels in distress, a Robin Hood–like forest outlaw and otherworldly apparitions (a lovely fairy; a stern, law-giving god). Oh, and a murder mystery, too. Three stories? Four? No, just one—the head-spinning new novel Arcadia by British master yarn spinner Iain Pears.