Out of sync with the world’s ambitions

Mention the hippies of the 1960s and 1970s and those of that generation will instantly remember their peace signs, tie-dyed clothing, LSD trips and anti-government protests. Reading "Arcadia," a novel set in a hippie commune in upstate New York, those memories came back, only I experienced what felt like a more intimate view of this countercultural group. A moving fictional story written by the talented Lauren Groff.

The nature of extremity

In Jennifer Miller's debut novel, a biology teacher instructs his students how to think for themselves, using information about extreme-loving microbes called extremophiles. These microorganisms become a sort of metaphor for what happens in this literary mystery that takes place in a fictional preparatory school in NW Massachusetts. "The Year of the Gadfly" keeps you wondering and page-turning to the very end.