Quarterly Book Review

Posted March 30th, 2013 in Books by davecopeland

These are the books I read in the first three months of 2013. My general view is if a book is good enough for me to finish reading, it’s good enough to recommend, so even a one out of five stars in my ratings is pretty good.

Continental Drift (P.S.), By Russell Banks

Date Started: December 24

Date Finished: January 8

Year: 2011

Pages: Kindle Edition

Publisher: Harper Collins

Synopsis: Typical Banks about down-on-his luck working class loser.

Quotes of Note:

  • “and nothing seems improved over yesterday”
  • “pretending he wasn’t who he was”
  • “like most people, Bob finds it difficult to know right from wrong”

Other Notes and Thoughts: Lots of good descriptive writing. Tough to read in parts and the parts about Bob seemed to be better, filled with more depth than parts about the Haitians. Lots of sex – almost to the point of being unnecessary, overdone. Liked how the stories collided.

Overall Review: 3 out of 5 stars.

The Roundhouse, By Louise Eldrich

Date Started: January 8

Date Finished: January 19

Year: 2012

Pages: Kindle Edition

Publisher: Harper Collins

Synopsis: National Book Award winner; Native American family living on a reservation comes to grips with brutal attack on the mother.

Quotes of Note: Just a sampling – so many good descriptions and theme-supporting quotes in this book.

  • “like punching a bruise”
  • “His face registered the humming rage of a man who could not think fast enough.”
  • “There was the added weight of being a surprise….and the surging hopes that implied. It was all on me – the bad and the good.”
  • Quoted Marcus Aurellius: “Very little is needed to make a happy life.”
  • “Lots of men cry after they do something nasty to a woman.”

Other Notes and Thoughts: Really loved this book despite it being predictable in some parts (Cappy’s death, for example, and I say that without giving too much away), but thrilling in most parts. Wish I could write like this. Gave me some good guidance for narration on a fiction project I have been struggling with, as the narrator is retelling a story from his youth.

Overall Review: 5 out of 5 stars.

With The Animals, By Noelle Revaz

Date Started: January 18

Date Finished: February 13

Year: 2012

Pages: Kindle Edition

Publisher: Dalkay Archive Press

Synopsis: Translated story about a misogynistic, semi-illiterate French farmer who relates better to animals than his family, including his cancer-stricken wife and his children.

Quotes of Note:

  • “to know the son you have too look at the father too.”
  • “Life’s like that, a wheel that turns faster and more frequent all the time, so the seasons seem to pass quicker than they used”

Other Notes and Thoughts: Tough read, and didn;t strike me as being as great as the review I read about it had lead me to believe. Semi-simplistic themes.

Overall Review: 2 out of 5 stars.

The Year We Left Home, By Jean Thompson

Date Started: March 1

Date Finished: March 13

Year: 2011

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Synopsis: Tracks on family through four decades. Interesting structure and, again, something I could possibly experiment with if I were to write a novel based on my experience at summer camp.

Quotes of Note:

  • “what really mattered was the life you made for yourself, and the person you decided to be”
  • “You never can tell, looking at it from the outside. How miserable people can be in marriage.”
  • “You decided that your life would go in a certain direction, and maybe it did. Or maybe you were kidding yourself and the world was mostly a matter of being in the right or wrong place in the right or wrong time.”
  • “They didn’t think in terms of happy.”

Other Notes and Thoughts: Very sad when this book ended – picked from the dioscount table at Brookline Booksmith and it ended a streak of starting and not finishing a few books that let me down (Eat the City being one of the titles I really wanted to like a couldn’t like, or finish for that matter, in February). Structure definitely worked, as it showed complexity and growth of characters. Wondering if a similar structure could work in literary nonfiction.

Overall Review: 4 out of 5 stars.

The Lost Weekend, By Charles Jackson

Date Started: March 9

Date Finished: March 31

Year: 1944

Pages: 248

Publisher: Vintage

Synopsis: Semi-autobiographical tale of a five-day binges on the East Side of Manhattan.

Quotes of Note:

  • “What was happening to him was, in a sense, not happening at all because nobody knew about it.”
  • “Never dreamed it because these things just didn’t happen. Not to the kind of person he was, the kind of people he knew…”
  • “How nice and neighborly of them to straighten up for him. The dear, sweet, considerate bitches.”
  • “They wake up on mornings such as this, all but out of their minds with remorse, enduring what others call and can call a hangover – that funny word Americans will joke about forever, even when the morning after is their own.”

Other Notes and Thoughts: Picked it up after reading a Vanity Fair article about the film version (which is supposed to be quite good). Fairly timeless and has held up well; will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled with functioning alcoholism.

Overall Review: 3 out of 5 stars.

Social Media Is Bullshit (Except When B.J. Mendelson’s Book Sales Suck)

Posted February 17th, 2013 in Books by davecopeland

B.J. Mendelson, who wrote a book arguing that you can’t use social media to promote your brand or product by telling readers “why all the Facebook friends and Twitter followers in the world mean nothing to you and your business without old-fashioned, real-world connections” sent me this LinkedIn request over the weekend (which comes after he started following me on Twitter and Google+):

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 5.06.09 PM

 

So Mendelson (who I have a history with) is not crazy about LinkedIn, but more than happy to do all the things on LinkedIn that his book essentially argues are a waste of time. And he’s not above begging for Amazon recommendations, which is shady and also violates Amazon’s service terms.

Normally I’d be happy to write an Amzon review for B.J., but the last time I did he threw a hissy fit. And before he whines, I have finished his book and still think it sucks; him using social media pretty much undermines his points and underscores the ones I was making in my original review.

Responding To My Critics: B.J. Mendelson

Posted December 3rd, 2012 in Books by davecopeland

Just found this takedown of me and since B.J. Mendelson is too much of a pussy to allow comments on his site, I figured I’d respond here.

Here’s the background: Over the summer Mendelson contacted me and asked me if he could send me a review copy of his book, Social Media Is Bullshit, in my role as a writer for ReadWriteWeb. He sent it, I read two-thirds of it and decided a review and interview of Mendelson wasn’t right for our audience. Mainly because it’s a weak premise backed up with “research” that primarily consists of Mendelson interviewing people who agree with him (or that he can easily takedown to illustrate his point).

I had some notes from my reading, which I posted in review form on the Amazon page for his book. Here’s what I thought (I just realized that B.J. apparently got my review pulled as abusive):

I rarely get pushed to write reviews on sites like Amazon, but I just don’t get how a house as respected as St. Martin’s accepted and printed something as childish and dumb as this book. Mendelson could actually make some decent points about the push by marketers to use social media as snake oil posing as a panacea, but instead relies on bad jokes, limited research, anecdotal evidence and hunches. He is worse than the marketers that he is trying to take down in that he is blatantly trying to build a book around a catchy title and a hot topic.

Mendelson also loves to name drop. He frequently sets up quotes with “As [Insert Famous Or Semi-Famous Name Here] told me,” never letting the reader forget that he is connected. The people that told Mendelson range from Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan to “I Hope They Serve Beer And Hell” author Tucker Max (who, incidentally, Mendelson seems to admire, which may explain throwaway lines like this: “The [marketers'] have to reach a larger audience to up their speaking fees, and for the foreseeable future, that’s going to be a hardcover book released through a traditinal publisher, that reaches a bestseller list like The New York Times, and not something you can get for $1.99 and a hand job.”)

Classy, right?

Beyond bad writing and a sense of humor that is unlikely to click with anyone far outside of Mendelson’s immediate circle of marketing nerd friends, there are bigger problems with this book. It totally disregards how social media is being used in fields outside of marketing, which jives with Mendelson’s sense of self-importance: if he doesn’t see value in something, than it certainly can’t be useful to anyone else.

Mendelson may very well be right when he portrays Internet marketers who promises riches built on social media campaigns as con artist, but he barely provides anecdotal evidence to support his jaded opinions. There is little in way of hard data, which leads to laughably inaccurate and outright false statements like “I don’t think we’ll ever have a clear answer as to why something goes viral organically.”

The ever growing percentages of the country’s 14,000 sociologists who are studying how information spreads through both traditional and online social networks would probably disagree with that Mendelson myth.

This book is a total waste of time for anyone who has half a brain.

He and I got into a little back-and-forth over there and then I let him have the last word (for the record, I have since gone back and read the remaining third of the book and still think it sucks, but your take may be different).

For the record, while Mendelson received some good reviews, I certainly wasn’t the only one who called bullshit on Social Media Is Bullshit:

  • From Publisher’s Weekly: “Having himself failed miserably at applying social media to his own ends, journalist and social critic Mendelson yearns to save others from his mistakes by revealing the degree to which social media have been overhyped, providing a wealth of examples from recent history to illustrate his points. While grudgingly admitting the existence of an occasional success story, Mendelson prefers to focus on the myriad ways in which social media fail to deliver what is promised; he also provides pointers to methods he thinks do work. Passionate and mercifully short, this work should provide useful ammunition for readers skeptical about the new networks linking the people of the 21st century.”
  • Ann Friedman at TNR: “The problem with this analysis is that it fails to acknowledge that the use of social media is not a zero-sum game. Small-business owners and writers and all manner of underdogs who promote their work on sites owned by others have many more ways to drum up customers and attention than they did in the pre-digital era….Sure, Facebook gets richer each time I post a link. But I also get traffic and attention.”

You get the point.

Mendelson’s argument against me, however, is I work in the tech press. He somehow thinks I have a vested interest in stoning the people who say the Emeperor Has No Clothes (of course if he actually stopped to read my work he’d see I’m one of the biggest critics of the blind optimism in Facebook and Twitter, predicted that Facebook’s IPO would be overvalued on the day they filed it, and wrote a five-part series that concluded we’re in a social media bubble. That can be a tough road to hoe as a card-carrying member of the tech press, where you earn scoops not by sourcing and reporting and asking tough questions but by subjective ass-kissing).

In fact, he says I am part of some coordinated campaign to “attack and distract” from his message. In other words, if you spend your life reading about, talking about and writing about social media, you’re not qualified to offer a worthy review of Mendelson’s book and that you must have a hidden agenda. The only people who seem to be qualified to write a review of his work, in his opinion, are people who agree with him.

Books To Read In Paris (Or When You Want To Be In Paris)

Posted November 12th, 2012 in Books by davecopeland

When Kate and I were planning our trip to Paris earlier this year, I asked my Facebook friends for recommendations for books about and set in Paris:

It ended up setting off a year in which I read primarily fiction, both set in France and just in general, a first for me since college when I thought I was going to be the last great American novelist.

Yesterday the Boston Globe tried to answer the same question with Five Books To Read In Paris. Here’s my partial list:

  1. A Moveable Feast was the only place where my list intersected with the Globe’s but we both had it as number one. It was the book that helped me understand why writers love Paris and (finally) why readers love Hemingway.
  2. Sarah’s Key: Read the book before I left and then watched the movie on the flight over. perhaps not the most upbeat way to start our trip but a great story. I may end up using this in my “Better Than The Book” class if I end up teaching it again.
  3. The Count Of Monte Cristo: Can’t believe my fear of literature written before the 20th century had me pushing 40 before I actually read this.
  4. Shoot The Piano Player is actually set in Philadelphia. The person who recommended it was probably thinking of the film, which was set and shot in Paris. Still haven’t seen the film but the book was fun, gritty noir – the kind of book they just don’t make anymore. Perhaps a stretch to include it on this list but I wouldn’t have read it if we weren’t planning our trip to Paris.

Better Than The Book? “Everything Must Go” Vs. “Why Don’t You Dance?”

Posted January 24th, 2012 in Books, Bridgewater State University, Movies, Teaching by davecopeland

This blog post is a slightly-fleshed out version of the notes for a lecture I gave in my “Better Than The Book?” class at Bridgewater State University this evening. The class explores films based on books, short stories and news articles and tries to help students understand the two different mediums. It is a writing intensive class designed to fill Bridgewater State’s second-year seminar class.

Today was our first class meeting: after going over course policies I introduced tonight film, “Everything Must Go” starring Will Ferrell and based on the Raymond Carver short story “Why Don’t You Dance.” Students are also encouraged to tweet in and out of class and particularly during screenings. For more insight check out the #299ENGL hash tag on Twitter.

This is a film class. Or maybe you signed up for it because you thought it was a literature class. Either way, you love films or books, and, hopefully both. But to me, this is really a class about storytelling.

My theory — or I should say a theory I share with a lot of people who are a lot smarter than me — is that storytelling as well as story-listening are nearly genetic, something we’re born with as a way to make sense of a big and, at times, fucked up world that we live in.

Here are some things I know about people who write and tell stories for a living. These are broad generalizations, but every time I share them with a group of writers, there’s a lot of head nodding:

  • They suck at math and science

  • They suck at math and science because they’re uncomfortable with the concept of infinity. They like “the end” and “happily ever after.”

  • The concept of infinity is closely related to death, so writers tend to obsess on their own mortality more than other people.

  • The concept of a big, complex world is also intimidating to writers, because writers tend to be control freaks.

  • And the best way to control the world is to create it: whether they are writing a short story or a trilogy of complex films, writers are trying to grab a small piece of the world and control it. This holds true for the newspaper reporter trying to get all the facts straight in a routine, Friday night shooting story on deadline, the blogger who likes to over-generalize in summing up the current state of the world and the novelist who creates plot twists so thick and complex you wouldn’t dare question their realism

Whether we consider ourselves storytellers is irrelevant. Writers and filmmakers make stories and we consume them because — I would argue — we need them. We need the universal truths within these stories to know we’re not alone in this world, that there really is a human culture that transcends across cultures and makes us feel a little more connected and a little less unique.

If you read the course description, the premise of this class is that books are always better than the films they’re based on, but — spoiler alert — I’m going to fast forward to our class when we’ll screen “Leaving Las Vegas” and tell you that premise is not true: sometimes the film is better than the book, sometimes the book is better than the film, and sometimes both are great on their own merits. And a lot of times, the book and the film suck, but I have tried to avoid those films and books as I designed this class. All of this comes down to personal taste: you may like a film better than the book when I say the book is better, and while all of these are films and books I either like or outright love, you’re allowed (and even encouraged) to hate them.

This is really a class about story-telling medium: for young writers starting out, one of the most frequently-heard (and discouraging) reasons for rejecting your book idea is that it works better as an article (non-fiction) or short story (fiction). Sometimes, stories work better as books. Sometimes they work better as films. Often a good story is just something you tell over drinks at a bar or around a campfire. Picking the medium — and understanding the advantages and disadvantages of telling a story in that medium — is crucial for people who tell stories. But it also can help those of us who consume stories.

We’re going to start this class by playing Hollywood producer. I’m going to give you a short story to read and then I’m going to break you into small groups. This is your movie studio, and a big-name actor has told you he (or she) has bought the film rights to this short story.It’s your job, as a group, to figure out how you’re going to make it into a film. Be creative: is this Hollywood blockbuster or small independent film? Who are you going to cast in the key roles? Who do you want to direct it? Most of all, give me a beginning, middle and end — does this film have a happy or sad ending?

Have them read Why Don’t You Dance?

Have them present their film ideas.

Intro film “Everything Must Go,” noting that it is based on the story they just read. 

Trailer:

John Updike, who has a style often compared to Carver’s, defined a grown man as “a failed boy” and that is what I think you will see in this film. But this is a sad failed boy: not the guys from the Hangover, and not even the Will Ferrell you’re used to seeing in a lot of other films. One of the things we see a lot ion American literature and film is the American Dream gone horribly wrong, and you will see that, both literally and figuratively in this film.

This is about a functioning alcoholic, which Roger Ebert called “the kinds of alcoholics who break your heart: They mean to do well, they’re not mean or violent, but over the years, the need for booze has moved into the foreground.” Nick has done a lot of bad things and you will see him do some more throughout the film, but think about whether you like him or not at the END of the movie, and think about why you feel this way.

Talk about Kenny, and his flaws: Spike Lee’s “Magic Negro;” see Ebert review.

Not Even Close: Final 2011 New Year’s Resolution Update

Posted January 1st, 2012 in Books by davecopeland

This is the final update on what I read in 2011 as I played along in a Massachusetts library’s challenge to read 50 books this year. I have been crossing out the books as I finish them. Bold titles are books I finished since the last update.

The final score: I read 38 books this year, not counting cookbooks, textbooks I review as I prepare classes and books on tape. I came up short, but it was still a pretty good year in terms of reading.

Best Nonfiction Book I Read This Year: Day Of Honey (with Unbroken being a close second)

Best Novel I Read This Year: Father Of The Rain

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
3. Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
4. Room by Emma Donoghue
5. The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins
6. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
7. Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
8. An Exclusive Love by Johanna Adorjan
9. Father of the Rain by Lily King
10. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
11. Townie by Andre Dubus III
12. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
13. Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadio
14. The Social Animal by David Brooks
15. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
16. Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic by Sarah Allen Benton
17. Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff by James B. Stewart
18. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
19. In Basement of the Ivory Tower by Professor X
19. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
21. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010 Edited by Dave Eggers
22. The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser
23. The Faculty Lounges: And Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get The College Education You Paid For by Naomi Schaefer
24. Another Bullshit Night In Suck City by Nick Flynn
25. Paying For It by Chester Brown
26. The Compass of Pleasure by David J. Linden
27. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
28. Reading In The Brain, by Stanislas Dehaene
29. The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides
30. The Cider House Rules, by John Irving
31. The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean
32. Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk
33. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
34. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
35. Election, by Tom Perrotta
36. House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III
37. The Art Of Racing In The Rain, by Garth Stein
38. The Night of the Gun, by David Carr
39. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
40. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
41. El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency, by Ioan Grillo
42. The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides

My Christmas Tree is a lot of things this year….

Posted December 18th, 2011 in Books, Holidays by davecopeland

….including self important:

Resolution Update #11

Posted December 1st, 2011 in Books by davecopeland

This is the second-to-last update on what I’ve been reading in 2011 as I play along in a Massachusetts library’s challenge to read 50 books this year. I have been crossing out the books as I finish them. Bold titles are books I finished since the last update.

I’m cutting it close, but I still think I have a shot at making it. And if I had counted audiobooks and cookbooks (as the rules said you could), not to mention textbooks I review for classes I teach, I would have passed several months ago.

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
3. Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
4. Room by Emma Donoghue
5. The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins
6. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
7. Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
8. An Exclusive Love by Johanna Adorjan
9. Father of the Rain by Lily King
10. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
11. Townie by Andre Dubus III
12. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
13. Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadio
14. The Social Animal by David Brooks
15. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
16. Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic by Sarah Allen Benton
17. Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff by James B. Stewart
18. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
19. In Basement of the Ivory Tower by Professor X
19. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
21. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010 Edited by Dave Eggers
22. The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser
23. The Faculty Lounges: And Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get The College Education You Paid For by Naomi Schaefer
24. Another Bullshit Night In Suck City by Nick Flynn
25. Paying For It by Chester Brown
26. The Compass of Pleasure by David J. Linden
27. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
28. Reading In The Brain, by Stanislas Dehaene
29. The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides
30. The Cider House Rules, by John Irving
31. The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean
32. Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk
33. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
34. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
35. Election, by Tom Perrotta
36. House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III
37. The Art Of Racing In The Rain, by Garth Stein
38. The Night of the Gun, by David Carr
39. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville

Resolution Update #10

Posted November 1st, 2011 in Books by davecopeland

This is a quick update on what I’ve been reading in 2011 as I play along in a Massachusetts library’s challenge to read 50 books this year.

These are books I have read I am reading or that plan to read. I’ll update this list from time-to-time and cross out the books as I finish them. Bold titles are books I finished since the last update.

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
3. Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
4. Room by Emma Donoghue
5. The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins
6. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
7. Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
8. An Exclusive Love by Johanna Adorjan
9. Father of the Rain by Lily King
10. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
11. Townie by Andre Dubus III
12. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
13. Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadio
14. The Social Animal by David Brooks
15. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
16. Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic by Sarah Allen Benton
17. Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff by James B. Stewart
18. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
19. In Basement of the Ivory Tower by Professor X
19. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
21. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010 Edited by Dave Eggers
22. The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser
23. The Faculty Lounges: And Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get The College Education You Paid For by Naomi Schaefer
24. Another Bullshit Night In Suck City by Nick Flynn
25. Paying For It by Chester Brown
26. The Compass of Pleasure by David J. Linden
27. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
28. Reading In The Brain, by Stanislas Dehaene
29. The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides
30. The Cider House Rules, by John Irving
31. The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean
32. Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk
33. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
34. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
35. Election, by Tom Perrotta
36. House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III
37. The Art Of Racing In The Rain, by Garth Stein
38. The Night of the Gun, by David Carr
39. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville

Resolution Update #9

Posted October 1st, 2011 in Books by davecopeland

This is a quick update on what I’ve been reading in 2011 as I play along in a Massachusetts library’s challenge to read 50 books this year.

These are books I have read I am reading or that plan to read. I’ll update this list from time-to-time and cross out the books as I finish them. Bold titles are books I finished since the last update.

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
3. Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
4. Room by Emma Donoghue
5. The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins
6. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
7. Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
8. An Exclusive Love by Johanna Adorjan
9. Father of the Rain by Lily King
10. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
11. Townie by Andre Dubus III
12. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
13. Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadio
14. The Social Animal by David Brooks
15. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
16. Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic by Sarah Allen Benton
17. Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff by James B. Stewart
18. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
19. In Basement of the Ivory Tower by Professor X
19. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
21. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010 Edited by Dave Eggers
22. The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser
23. The Faculty Lounges: And Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get The College Education You Paid For by Naomi Schaefer
24. Another Bullshit Night In Suck City by Nick Flynn
25. Paying For It by Chester Brown
26. The Compass of Pleasure by David J. Linden
27. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
28. Reading In The Brain, by Stanislas Dehaene
29. The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides
30. The Cider House Rules, by John Irving
31. The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean
32. Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk
33. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
33. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
33. Election, by Tom Perrotta
33. House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III

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