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.
Featured in this story:
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.
May 4, 2010 Merde Encore is a pleasure so guilty that even the author, Genevieve, does not divulge her last name. And though Firoozeh Dumas keeps it hidden in the back of her shelf, she nevertheless finds it handy for learning to speak French the way a textbook would never teach her.
February 17, 2010 Fulfilling the masculine dream of having arms like Goliath probably isn't worth the downside of steroid use. Vicarious satisfaction is probably better, as author Marc Acito discovers upon reading Gladiator, the autobiography of one-time American Gladiators star Dan Clark, known to television audiences as Nitro.
January 11, 2010 If you're looking for a certain type of quality introspection on '80s grunge, you won't find it in Neil Strauss' ghostwritten glimpse into Motley Crue. But author Charles Bock wasn't looking for something poignant — he was looking for something real. He found it.
December 23, 2009 Essayist Jake Halpern may be a 33-year-old man with a wife, kids and a job at Yale, but that doesn't mean he's no fun and games. When it comes to zombies, Halpern knows you can't take the living dead lightly — and that's why he's endorsing the ultimate zombie survival guide.
December 3, 2009 So what if it's pure literary estrogen? Author David Sax says Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love the best comeback story he's ever read. Sure, Gilbert's memoir is often dismissed as a beach read for unhappy housewives, but Sax says the haters are missing the point.
October 13, 2009 Most fantasy baseball books have no plot, no dialogue, no women — which is just fine with Tony Horwitz. But when Horwitz wants a little story with his stats, he picks up Fantasyland, by Sam Walker.
August 26, 2009 Forget the Steven Spielberg fish tale. Author Lizzie Skurnick says she'll take Peter Benchley's salty novel — and its swearing sailors — over its cinematic adaptation any day.