Arts & Entertainments

Christopher Beha (Ecco Press)

With What Happened to Sophie Wilder, published in 2012, young Catholic writer Beha made one of the strongest novelistic debuts in recent memory. Now he has followed up with a second novel that is likely to be one of the year's most widely noticed books. You could call it a story about reality TV—it is that, but it is also much more. When people reject or bracket out God, what pretender will take God's place? Beha's answer unfolds in a darkly witty tale that has the resonance of a parable and the dream-logic of a nightmare.

The Illustrated Alphabet

KP Star (3 Star Studio)

I've mentioned in this space that Wendy (my wife) and I relish good alphabet books. Here is a keeper for your shelves. Each letter gets a two-page spread. On the left-hand page, the letter is followed by an alphabetical list of words beginning with the letter in question. On the right-hand page, an illustration in the shape of the letter features a heterogeneous collage of images representing all the words listed (e.g., for K, kale, kaleidoscope, kayak, kettle, and so on). Full disclosure: This delightful book is dedicated to Wendy and me.

What Cannot Be Fixed

Jill Peláez Baumgaertner (Cascade Books)

Under editor D. S. Martin, Cascade's Poeima Poetry Series, launched in 2012, has published a deliciously capacious range of poets whose faith is central to their lives and work. They represent no one school or style, no single stream of faith. Each voice has its own inscape. Baumgaertner, Wheaton College's dean of humanities and theological studies, never strains to get our attention. Poetry is a language she has grown accustomed to over a lifetime—an inner speech, heightened but never grandiose, capable of encompassing family memories, meditations on Scripture, a moment in a parking garage: the miscellany of life in which a deep order is nonetheless apparent.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.