December 10, 2010 Crosley says the novel by Irvine Welsh — also the author of Trainspotting — aces every category of "dirty" we have. Reading it, she explains, is like watching "a rusty car careen into a garbage dump of filthy phonetics and explode into a strangely beautiful ball of flames."
December 9, 2010 Neurologist Oliver Sacks' earliest and fondest memories are of fire — the coal fires of his childhood home, Hanukkah candles. Today he deals more with the firing of neurons, but he still gets his fix through flame-inspired literature like Hazel Rossotti's Fire, about the culture and science of fire.
November 22, 2010 School teacher Maria McCann did her homework when writing this erotic, historical novel about the English Civil War. Lionel Shriver says she couldn't stop reading about this torrid romance between two 17th century soldiers.
October 27, 2010 In 1975, the Lutz family moved into their dream home on Long Island — and barely lasted a year. Jay Anson chronicles their paranormal experiences in a 1977 pulp horror classic. Josh Kilmer-Purcell says Amityville's hyperbole and hackneyed plotlines keep his mind off of his own anxieties.
September 21, 2010 For some, travel is a relaxing break, but not for writer Benjamin Percy. For our books series "My Guilty Pleasure," where authors talk about a book they are embarrassed to love, Percy discusses how he spends his vacations — armed with a travel guide, seeking out the spooky, the scary and the supernatural.
September 14, 2010 David Lipsky says that his favorite comic, Runaways, is both a brilliant reading experience — and an embarrassment festival. The tiny digests by Brian K. Vaughan have been a fount of guilt, awkwardness and grave personal doubts, but he still pulls them out on the subway, because they are just that good.
September 6, 2010 Writer Gary Shteyngart may have no idea what Zardoz is about, but that doesn't stop him from knowing the science-fiction novel by heart. For a nerd like him, nothing compares to the post-apocalyptic world full of floating heads and immortal beings.
September 3, 2010 When Rhoda Janzen was 9, her mother busted her for reading the thriller 666 during an incredibly dull sermon at their Mennonite church. To this day, Janzen revels in the terribly written prose about the Antichrist, cannibalism, global famine and apocalyptic doom.
August 19, 2010 Call him creepy, but author Tom Rachman says the liveliest reads are about the dead. Obit lovers insist that the best remembrances are more about life than about death, and Rachman agrees. He recommends The Daily Telegraph Fourth Book of Obituaries — a very British collection of rogue remembrances.
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August 16, 2010 When Joshua Braff was an M.F.A. student, his classmates smirked when he announced that John Irving was one of his favorite authors. But he's proud of his love for The World According to Garp; Braff says Irving's characters live and breathe before, during and after the story ends.
August 4, 2010 Even in an age of sexting and online porn, Blume's 1975 teen novel is still considered controversial. Writer J. Courtney Sullivan says she picked up Forever... for the scandal — but she stayed for the feminist lesson. At its core, the novel is about young women who make responsible choices — and have sex on their own terms.
July 23, 2010 Author Helen Simonson risks her literary pretensions to admit a lifelong secret attraction to the Regency romance novels of Georgette Heyer. The dampened muslin dresses, the highly polished boots — for her, nothing beats these tales of heroines who require a man with a firm hand on the bridle.
July 20, 2010 Wendy MacLeod saw Witness at an impressionable age, and has been fascinated with the Amish ever since. MacLeod hoped that Mennonite in a Little Black Dress would be a little bit sexier, but says that Rhoda Janzen's memoir is still plenty of G-rated fun.
June 28, 2010 Page after page of Kurt Cobain's terrible handwriting is reproduced in faithful facsimile — covering forthcoming gigs, favorite songs, prophecies of fame, janitorial wages and the firing of terrible drummers. Author Karan Mahajan says these funny, self-aware writings are much more than a pacifier for weepy fans.
June 24, 2010 V.C. Andrews' 1979 Flowers in the Attic tells the cringe-worthy tale of four beautiful children, forced to live in the attic by their cruel and conniving mother. Writer Heidi W. Durrow admits that she loves the sick, twisted plot — right down to the ill-fated, brother-sister romance.