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Great writers are great readers. And they have amazing stories to tell. Not just about the books they write, but about the books they read.
Anne Strainchamps and the producers behind “To the Best of Our Knowledge” have been asking authors for years to tell a story about that one book that left a mark. A book they can’t forget. A book that changed everything.
Now they’re sharing their stories with you, delivered in a weekly micro-podcast. New bite-sized episodes every Friday.
The author of "Lincoln in the Bardo" recommends Victor Klemperer's two-volume diary that reads as a slow-motion picture of what the Holocaust looked like before it was known Holocaust.
Writer Anne Lamott says that the children’s classic made her feel like there was room in the world for imaginative, adventurous girls who just might wear mismatched knee socks.
Jean Rhys takes up a "mad" wife’s story in "Wide Sargasso Sea," an overlooked novel recommended by "Handmaid’s Tale" author Margaret Atwood.
Writer Lorrie Moore says Alice Munro’s book of short stories, "Carried Away," shows mastery of the architecture of the short story that is both brilliant and can’t be imitated.
Filmmaker Werner Herzog, whose films include "Grizzly Man" and "Cave of the Forgotten Dreams," recommends a nonfiction collection of J.A. Baker's observations of peregrine falcons, recorded in the early 1960s.
Martin Amis has written his fair share of novels and essay collections. For a writer, you expect their favorite books to be a source of inspiration. For Amis, Saul Bellow's 1953 novel is a source of writer's block.
As a black, gay poet, Jericho Brown considers it “hilarious” that he discovered sex through one of the whitest writers in American history — John Updike.
Alice Walker recommends Richard Yates' novel following an advertising executive whose seemingly successful life quietly fractures under the pressure of mundanity, alcoholism, anger, and recklessness. She says she was drawn to the book because Yates' world was so different from hers.
What was a favorite childhood story? What do you think it reveals about you?
Has a book ever precipitated a life-changing realization, about yourself or someone else?
Is there a book you’ve hated – but can’t stop thinking about?
Is there a book that’s shaped your spiritual life — that opened a door to a new reality?
Has a book ever sparked a personal passion or obsession?
What book have you reread more than any other? Why?
Is there a book you consider a talisman, or a sacred object?