So Much to Read
"A man ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good."—Samuel Johnson

Books Summed Up in Six Words

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman
Lindy West

"Stuff you love hates you." Click.

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement
David Brooks

Stuff White People Like, humorless version.

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping
Judith Levine

Wait—this book is for sale?

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
Bill Buford

I am never eating out again.
More on food: The Man Who Ate Everything

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
Mary Roach

Author of Stiff
How astronauts pee, if you wondered.

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits
Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas

French women are irritable, manipulative slobs.

Revolutionary Road
Richard Yates

Is suburbia really entirely to blame?

The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand

To be read young, then outgrown.

Mrs. Mike
Benedict Freedman and Nancy Freedman

Love a mountie, grow up fast.

Nina Shengold

For lonely timberland nights: a longjohn-ripper.

Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art
Gene Wilder

Being married to Gilda was exhausting.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
Elizabeth Gilbert
Author of
The Last American Man, Stern Men, Committed, and The Signature of All Things.
How much Liz can you handle?

God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America
Hanna Rosin

Where home schoolers leave home for.

The First Man-Made Man:The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution
Pagan Kennedy

Tragic figure born female, too soon.

Outliers:The Story of Success
Malcolm Gladwell

Author of Blink
Being fortunate contributes to success—surprised?

The Wife
Meg Wolitzer

Overshadowed, but by her own doing.

The Uncoupling
Meg Wolitzer

Spellbinding sex strike stymies suburban school.

These Children Who Come at You with Knives, and Other Fairy Tales
Jim Knipfel

Delightful derangment, with modern life lessons.

This Boy's Life: A Memoir
Tobias Wolff

Author of Old School
Tough childhood, failures provide lifelong material.

The Thirteenth Tale
Diane Setterfield

Sisters, secrets, goosebumps for book lovers.
Another spooky twin story: Her Fearful Symmetry

The Giant's House
Elizabeth McCracken

Wonderful tale of friendship between misfits.

Bel Canto
Ann Patchett

Author of Truth and Beauty
Lovely but unconvincing Stockholm syndrome story.

Of Human Bondage
W. Somerset Maugham

Life'll kick you in the teeth.

Joy Comes in the Morning
Jonathan Rosen

Rabbi babe falls for mopey guy.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend
Laura Hillenbrand

Grab the reins and hold on!

Lynn Cox

Passionate swimmer encounters lost baby whale.

The Red Tent
Anita Diamant

The Bible was never this exciting.

On Chesil Beach
Ian McEwan

Sex ed might've saved this marriage.

My Name is Aram
William Saroyan

Funny, wise stories of Armenian boyhood.

The Amateur Marriage
Anne Tyler

Love is short, life is long.

Fifth Business
Robertson Davies

The original Boy Discovers Magic story.

The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold

From Heaven, a girl recalls hell.

Marriage and Morals
Bertrand Russell

The prescient philosopher proposes starter marriages.

Crossing to Safety
Wallace Stegner

A lifelong friendship between academic couples.

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America
Firoozeh Dumas

Amusing, if you overlook the stereotypes.

The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story
Richard Preston

Author of The Wild Trees
The virus is the elusive enemy.

In the Garden of the North American Martyrs
Tobias Wolff

Author of Old School
Men make bad decisions, unsure why.

The Way Life Should Be
Christina Baker Kline

Impulsive romance, move have unexpected results.

A Thousand Acres
Jane Smiley

Drama gathers like a Midwestern storm.

A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
Robert Olen Butler

Vietnam war hangs in Louisiana air.
Also recommended: The Size of the World

Sophie's Choice
William Styron

How can horror be so beautiful?

"There was so much to read, for one thing, and so much fine health to be pulled down out of the young breathgiving air...I was rather literary in college—one year I wrote a series of very solemn and obvious editorials for the Yale News—and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the 'well-rounded man.' This isn't just an epigram—life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all."—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby