The book that changed my life
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. I read it right before my final department exams (art history) in my senior year in college and was so smitten that I attempted to imitate its style on my exam answers, with predictable results. This book might be the reason I’m not an art historian.
The book that most influenced my writing
George Orwell’s Collected Essays. When I read them I had this feeling that a lot of what passed for “fine writing” was essentially fraudulent, and that there was nothing more beautiful than clarity.
The book I think is most underrated
Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford. I read this a few years ago and am still in wonder that it is not a required stop, alongside To Kill a Mockingbird 과 그만큼 Catcher in the Rye, on the forced march we put schoolchildren through literature.
The book that changed my mind
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: I wonder if I am the only person to have never believed in ghosts until he was 52 살이에요, and read this.
The last book that made me cry
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: I read all of Steinbeck except this as a kid, because this felt like the sort of thing you were supposed to read, rather than the sort of thing you might like to read. I picked it up not all that long ago and – I know, I know – could not believe how good it was. And yes I cried. A bit.
The last book that made me laugh
Radical Chic by Tom Wolfe: I just reread this for the first time in decades and, as before, I had the other kind of tears rolling down my cheeks. It’s never lost its relevance.
The book I couldn’t finish
Cervantes’s Don Quixote: I have grabbed my lance and leapt on my horse and charged into this thing three times and each time I put it down after about 80 페이지. It’s odd because it’s obviously so good but something about it keeps me from finishing.
The book I’m ashamed not to have read
Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. If I was actually ashamed I’d read it. It’s more true to say this is the book that I suspect others would expect me to feel ashamed not to have read.
The book I give as a gift
The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson. Just go get it and read it. Just do it. It’s the funniest novel I’ve read since John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces and it leaves you with the feeling that you have yourself been a Viking.
My comfort read
Anything by John Lanchester. He’s my safe place. I know that after I’ve read him I’ll want to go on being a writer more than I did before.