The Letters of John Cheever Edited by Benjamin CheeverNobody put things quite like Cheever. On life in Iowa (something everyone, from Styron to Vonnegut, describes differently): “I’m having a great time but I’m getting tired and I am having trouble with alcohol again.
The Lives of the Artists By Giorgio Vasari, translated by Julia Conway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella This is the book, first published in 1550, that kicked off both art history and artist biographies. Vasari was a painter, architect, and friend of Michelangelo.
Five books that deal with the complexity, nuance, and fearful intensity of family love.Torn in Two By Rozsika Parker In an era when people gamely put themselves on network television to talk about the most unlikely sexual practices or personal criminal activity, few parents are willing to admit to ambivalence about their own children.
There are certain historical figures of such importance that we need to know everything about them, which is why books about Napoleon, Lincoln, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth I, and the great religious founders continue to proliferate; these lives require constant reevaluation and interpretation.
3,096 Days in Captivity: The True Story of My Abduction, Eight Years of Enslavement, and Escape By Natascha Kampusch Her brilliant memoir about being kidnapped and held captive for eight years by Wolfgang Priklopil. I had the pleasure of interviewing her a few years ago.
World War IIThis is almost impossible. Where to start? There are so many good histories, so many powerful memoirs, starting with Winston Churchill’s and Field Marshal Slim’s. Also, Rick Atkinson’s trilogy on the Army’s war in Europe—the last volume will come out next year—is a must read.
1. Favorite BooksSong of Solomon by Toni Morrison (Obama) vs. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Romney)Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Obama) vs. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Romney)Shakespeare’s Tragedies (Obama) vs.
I’m usually reading too many books—in fact I’m usually reading enough books that if the stack fell on me I’d be injured. They break into two main groups: novels I am reading because the story grips me, and nonfiction I am reading because it is too extraordinary to miss.
I am that most boring of list-compilers, a guy who avidly falls upon “new” books that other people donated to their local libraries in the era of Jimmy Carter.James Gould Cozzens’s Guard of Honor, anyone? Guess not. Well, you’re missing the greatest of all American novels about World War II.
Roughing It By Mark TwainTravel writing isn't what it used to be, but a young, smart-ass Mark Twain set a standard with his romp through the wacky West, published in 1872, that has rarely been surpassed. By horseback and hoof, Twain takes us from the Mormon Theocracy of Utah to the wide-open craziness in the Sierra mining fields.
The Deer Park By Norman MailerI want books you would enjoy reading even if you knew next to nothing about the movies. In that spirit, I start with a novel—Norman Mailer’s The Deer Park (1955)—about an Air Force flier who goes to Hollywood.
Bluets By Maggie NelsonFor inspiration and consternation, I often carry Maggie Nelson's Bluets. It is a book-length essay/poem/something that studies blue as a color, an emotion, a state of being, the meaning of sex, an existential mystery, and as art.
Think short stories are boring? Old-fashioned? Uneventful? Here are five contemporary collections guaranteed to change your mind. PU-239 and Other Russian Fantasies By Ken Kalfus Imagine Breaking Bad but with weapons-grade plutonium instead of meth.
The Pickwick Papers Dickens’s first novel—in which his exhilaration at finally bursting into fiction is palpable. He worked on a huge canvas, using a multitude of modes and styles, painting a picture of an England that was at once contemporary and mythic.
When you’ve really enjoyed a book, it’s great to come back to the characters again and see what they or their children did next. However, a trilogy is difficult to write, because the author has to revisit the same set of ideas and get more stories out them.
Need a book recommendation? We get asked all the time, but we've left the task to the experts: every week, great writers pick their favorite books and tell you why they are must-reads.
James Patterson Writes a How-To
As the top selling author in the world.More
Elizabeth Spencer Wins Rea Award
For work on short stories.More
Bechdel Memoir May Cost S.C. College State Funding
Cast of the ‘Fun Home’ musical will perform amid controversy. More
Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dies
Obama calls him a great visionary.More
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Gay Talese Analyzes ‘Mad Men’
Compares himself to Roger Sterling.More
Parents Hate ‘Captain Underpants’
More than ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’More
‘The White Queen’ author Philippa Gregory usually doesn’t read historical fiction, a genre she’s mastered. But she’s making an exception for two books.