In the title role of director Stephen Frears’s new film, Florence Foster Jenkins, Meryl Streep is more a wonder than ever. Playing a high-society music patron who longs for the operatic limelight but who cannot sing a true note, Streep will split your sides and eardrums even as she rends you in two. Tragedy is wriggling just inside the comic cocoon of this story of a real-life New York City doyenne who, in 1944, at age 76, achieved her lifelong dream of singing at Carnegie Hall—and who brought down the house, though not quite the way she wanted to.

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.