Katharine Webers third novel, The Little Women, has just been published. She teaches fiction writing at Yale, and here chooses six books I plan to reread every few years for the rest of my life.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (Vintage, $13). Nabokovs brilliant novel is a savage satire of complacent American values. An astonishing doom-dark narrative of obsession, written in exquisite and inventive language, Lolita is an endlessly rewarding masterpiece.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner, $13). Another skewering of American values, this really is a perfect novel. Its a portrait of the Jazz Age that reads like a parable of contemporary issues. Read it now and discover that Jimmy Gatz is alive and well and shopping for shirts at Paul Stuart.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (Lb Books, $6). Sure, you read it when you were an angst-y teenager. Now read it again as an angst-y grown-up. Its still great, and still important. Holden Caulfields despair will strike you just as deeply, but in a different, darker place.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Little, Brown, $7). The world needs more lawyers like Atticus Finch. This novel takes on the biggest and most divisive issue in American life in the 20th centuryrace relationsand makes it personal. If this were your first novel, you might also stop right there, as did Miss Lee.
The Diary of Anne Frank (Doubleday, $75). Anne Frank was a genuinely gifted writer who had every intention of publishing her diary and had already begun to revise it by the time the police raided the secret annex. Had she survived the war, I have no doubt that today she would be a 74-year-old celebrated novelist. Instead of reaching for that dog-eared paperback, get the new Revised Critical Edition from Doubleday, which contains much previously censored material.