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”’Do as I do. Consult the Spirits!’ Commodore Vanderbilt told a Tribune reporter in 1870, when asked how he’d made his millions.” From Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull (Knopf, $30), historian Barbara Goldsmith‘s look at the Victorian era in America

”Ever since the beginning these twins are sewing. One sews with light and one with dark. The first twin’s beads are cut-glass whites and pales, and the other twin’s beads are glittering deep red and blue-black indigo.” From Louise Erdrich‘s new novel, The Antelope Wife (HarperFlamingo, $24)