Thursday, November 17, 2011

Writers' Top 10 books

Chekhov, the writer's writer
For an article on Unpacking My Library: Writers and their Books (edited by Leah Price, Yale University Press), the Financial Times asked a handful of authors to enumerate the favorites in their collections and to muse on their book-collecting habits (Claire Messud: "In midlife, I feel that my tendency to acquire books is rather like someone smoking two packs a day: it’s a terrible vice that I wish I could shuck.") I thought it fascinating that of the six authors sampled, two chose Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and The Complete Poems, 1927-1979 of Elizabeth Bishop. Moreover, The Collected Works of Anton Chekhov showed up no fewer than four times, novels by Vladimir Nabokov twice, and Proust twice.

I found Edmund White's list most sympatico: Anna Karenina; The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald;  Chekhov; The Folding Star by Alan Hollinghurst; Lolita; Nothing by Henry Green; Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet; Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust; A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood; The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu. Was I a gay male writer in another life?
In future discussions such as this, I reckon we will be able to zap a list of our favorite books (or of our entire library) from our reading devices!
Would anyone be able to pass on their top 10? I would find it exceedingly difficult!

G. P. Putnam's Sons, (1955) first printing. From facsimiledustjackets.com

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