Monday, October 15, 2007

Tom Perrotta's ten favorite books

Tom Perrotta's latest novel, The Abstinence Teacher, is out this month from St. Martin's Press.

In a 2004 interview with Perrotta conducted by Barnes & Noble, the author named his ten favorite books and what makes them special to him. Three of the ten:
# Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy -- A book that is crammed so full of amazing observations about everyday life that it is sometimes overwhelming in its profundity. Tolstoy has the courage to show not just the ecstatic passion of romantic love but the emptiness and despair that can come when it fades.

# This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff -- The best coming-of-age book I know, a contemporary work that deserves to stand alongside Huckleberry Finn. It's hilariously funny and deeply sad at the same time -- my favorite combination.

# Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin -- A highly readable and illuminating biography of the great English diarist and naval bureaucrat, who turns out to have been quite a character -- randy, grasping, opportunistic, charming, politically astute, and endlessly fascinated by his own behavior. Tomalin makes a convincing case for him as a man way ahead of his time, possibly the first modern "self" in our literature. Read it for the hilarious sexual shorthand Pepys invented, if nothing else.
Read about the other seven titles.

--Marshal Zeringue