July 25, 2011 What makes a memorable character? It is the one who changes the most throughout the book? The one who makes a personal discovery? Or is it simply the most eccentric who we love? Actor Simon Pegg says that for his favorite literary protagonist, all three apply.
July 18, 2011 In his novel Dream Boy, Jim Grimsley explores the beauty and violence of growing up gay in the rural South. Author Justin Torres offers this devastatingly beautiful novel to anyone who has ever been the target of a bully.
July 5, 2011 Love is a many splendored thing ... or is it? Author Eleanor Henderson, once admittedly infatuated with the writings of her teacher, Robert Cohen, insists that you must read The Varieties of Romantic Experience — his collection of tumultuous tales of love and the struggles that lie therein.
June 30, 2011 Have you ever had an experience so profound, you felt like a different person once it was over? Author Ann Brashares recommends a story of heartbreak that remakes the personality of a young teen: The Go-Between, by L.P. Hartley.
June 20, 2011 Scary landscapes and spirit creatures appear in many ghost stories. But author Alan Heathcock knows that for the best of them, only the writings of Algernon Blackwood will do. These spooky tales will have you shivering with fright and delight.
June 20, 2011 Sometimes you just can't face the world. What to do? Curl up with Joyce Cary's The Horse's Mouth, says author Kate Christensen. This fun, frequently unsavory romp is the perfect escape.
June 13, 2011 Welcome to Temple Stage School, a place for child actors. At Freddie's by Penelope Fitzgerald stars proprietress Freddie, her misfit students and her troubled teachers as they try to save the school. Author Ben Dolnick encourages you to take a front row seat with this bittersweet comedy.
June 8, 2011 If you're in search of a genre-bending, perspective-shattering read, look no farther than Victor LaValle's crime thriller Big Machine. Author Dolen Perkins-Valdez says the kaleidoscopic novel deftly weaves crime with dynamics of race, class and religion in an explosion of utter originality.
June 1, 2011 For journalists covering war, the story is what is happening on the ground. There often isn't time to reflect on the bigger picture. Author John Baxter reflects on one book that does look back on a war: reporter Michael Herr's Dispatches, a memoir of Herr's time in Vietnam.
May 17, 2011 Reading Kelly Link's writing isn't really like reading at all — it's more like experiencing the strangest dream of your life. Writer Karen Russell says the uncanny short stories are genre-bending, mind-blowing masterpieces of the imagination that draw on fable and myth to achieve an unbearably painful realism.
May 2, 2011 The gun-slinging glory of Louis L'Amour Westerns might be romanticized past the point of reality, but not even American history scholar Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman can resist the pull of their ruggedly glamorous adventures that sweep across the Great Plains.
April 27, 2011 As an aspiring writer, William Lychack was lucky enough to be mentored by his literary hero, longtime New Yorker editor, William Maxwell. Maxwell's novel, So Long, See You Tomorrow, is a meditation on loss and forgiveness; Lychack says every page is touched by care, like rooms of a beautiful house.
April 25, 2011 If Amy Chua's tale of overachievement, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, left you looking for a different image of an Asian-American family, writer Ben Ryder Howe recommends Mother on Fire. Sandra Tsing Loh tells the story of her refreshingly "average" Asian-American family.
April 20, 2011 Karel Capek's The Absolute at Large demonstrates how weighty social satire can be slipped into genre fiction. Writer Cara Hoffman says the surrealist speculation in this 1920s sci-fi novel is so prescient, it feels like it could have been written today.
April 11, 2011 Willa Cather's pioneer tale is often considered a young adult novel — but don't be fooled by the deceptively simple prose. Writer Bradford Morrow says older readers who return to the subtly sophisticated narrative will find new perspectives on their own journeys.