1. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    Mark Twain said that a classic is a book that everyone wants to have read but no one wants to read. This book was the exception: a classic that reads like a guilty pleasure, sordid magazine feature. Capote's writing is incredible on a sentence level but somehow only works to serve the subject: almost every brilliant sentence evaporates immediately, leaving you with image and emotion and you don't know how they got there.
  2. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
    I loved In Cold Blood so much that I read Breakfast at Tiffany's. Took longer to get into but it's extremely short so not a problem. Here, he did have indelible lines of writing along with characters. Amazing to consider: between these two books, Capote wrote both one of the most masculine American classics and one of the most feminine.
  3. Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
    This is my current favorite short story collection by my current favorite short story writer. Humor and perceptive tangents on every corner of these emotional and modern stories. I quote them to myself in my mind all the time.
  4. Do the Movies Have a Future? by David Denby
    I felt less alone reading this book, a call to arms for movies to be relevant on two levels: commercially as well as creatively. Television does it regularly now, but movies rarely. The #1 box office movie of 1979? Kramer Vs. Kramer. This book traces how we got from then to now.
  5. U and I by Nicholson Baker
    This entire book from 1985 is a first person, non-fiction meditation on the author's obsession with his hero, the writer he knew he could never be as good as: John Updike. How often have we gotten an account like this- rendered honestly by a first rate writer himself?
  6. Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? by Dave Eggers
    A quick, vivid, crackling, philosophical novel in dialogue by Dave Eggers. Came and went in a half second this year, but I loved it.
  7. Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich
    Maybe the best collection yet from maybe the best comedic prose writer working right now.
  8. On Beauty and Being Just by Elaine Scarry
    A very brief philosophical meditation on the meaning and power of beauty.
  9. The Circle by Dave Eggers
    A lot of great ideas and great nature writing co-exist in this big idea novel about Silicon Valley and the future it is building.
  10. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
    Bold ideas expressed in crystal clear prose, giving them nowhere to hide.