The doldrums of January, especially a January following such a tumultuous fall, can seem deadly indeed, and nothing provides a better escape than a really good book. Somehow, it's just not a time for weighty works of searching realism. Instead, we found ourselves beguiled by an ingenious fantasy about a literary detective, a droll yarn about a man who turns Gotham upside down just by staying put, a hot and heavy novel about a Rennaissance painter, the boisterous saga of a Falstaffian political boss and a story collection extolling the seductive pull of scientific curiosity. There's more pure fun on this month's book list than we've indulged in for quite a while, but we can't help thinking we've earned it. We suspect you have as well, so dig in.