Jacob’s Folly by Rebecca Miller
Jacob Cerf is an 18th century French peddler who dies and comes back to life as a fly on the wall- literally- in the lives of two modern day New Yorkers- Les, a good guy frustrated with his life, and Masha, an Orthodox Jew struggling with hers. Rebecca Miller brings her characters to live with sparkle and verve. A winner, and one of my favorites of 2013. My full review is here.
Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs, by Paul Koudounaris
Worth it for the pictures alone, scholar Koudounaris fleshes out a strange little corner of Catholic history- that of the skeletal remains of martyrs that were dressed and ornamented as a response by the Catholic Church to the Protestant Reformation. Read about the skeletons, what they meant to the communities that hosted them and how they ended up. Fascinating! My full review is here.