Now that you have so graciously shared your recs with me, it’s my turn to return the literary love. Below are just some of the books that I love, and can read over and over again
The Hours by Michael Cunningham: A flawless weaving of the lives of three women, all tied to the novel Mrs. Dalloway: the incomparable Mrs. Woolf herself, a 1950s housewife in suburban America, and a 1990s lesbian writer in New York City. Gorgeous writing all around.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. A collection of related short stories about the Vietnam War. I first read it for a summer report in high school – I bawled my eyes out because all the stories were so poignant and true – until the first day of class when the teacher said, you guys know it’s a work of fiction, right? It’s written on the inside jacket. I felt stupid. But that doesn’t change the fact that Tim O’Brien is a genius.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I don’t know if there is a seminal work on grief, but the seminal work for me would be this book by Ms. Didion. Her husband of 30+ years dies suddenly at the dinner table. The first two sentences: Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. The book is an attempt to figure out the how and when and where of the instant, and what lies beyond it.
The Naked Economist by Charles Wheelan. Even if you hate economics, I’d give this a strong recommendation. Dr. Wheelan covers the subject with witty & interesting anecdotes and easy-to-understand examples – not quite as quirky as Freakonomics but just as good. No dismal science here! Har har har.