Feature

Garry Trudeau's 6 favorite books

The creator of Doonesbury, the immensely popular political comic strip, shares his favorite reads — from Jane Austen to Dr. Seuss

Tribe by Sebastian Junger (Twelve, $22).

The latest from perhaps our best observer of war. Curious as to why vets who had no combat exposure were suffering PTSD at rates comparable with those who did, Junger developed an intriguing argument: Humans are wired for community, and the shattering of the powerful bonds of military kinship can prove devastating.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (Harper Perennial, $16).

I developed a serious grad-schoolboy crush on Dillard when this 1974 book came out. Technically, this "pilgrim" was just a housewife taking notes in her backyard, but the Pulitzer judges that year saw something else: an astonishing talent and the best noticer of the natural world since Thoreau, only with a sense of humor.

Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss (Random House, $10).

It comes with a warning label ("Don't go fast!"), but it's no use; you won't be able to resist trying to impress your 3-year-old by speeding through this short book without stumbling. You'll fail, but you and your young listener will be laughing too hard at the pictures to notice the indignity.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Dover, $5).

OK, so I've never actually read this Austen classic. But the person I sleep with reads it repeatedly ("my default book"), so I've heard most of it. With Austen, every character — no matter how minor — is so fully and originally imagined, each could command his or her own novel.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (William Morrow, $24).

Some artists — Paul Simon and Stephen Sondheim come to mind — can explain their creative process. The rest of us haven't a clue how we do what we do. McCloud explains the universal appeal of comics in terms so compelling that even a practitioner comes away with renewed respect for his profession.

Bad Love by Randy Newman (SKG, $6 on iTunes).

Yes, it's an album, not a book, but Randy Newman's masterpiece is also as good a collection of short stories as you'll ever hear. Pay particular attention to "Shame," a litany of cocky but sad lamentations by an aging New Orleans skirt chaser whose case is undermined by his mocking background singers. From our country's best satirist, in any medium.

— Garry Trudeau is the creator of Doonesbury, the popular political comic strip that has racked up four Pulitzer Prizes since its 1970 debut. His latest book is Yuge!, a compilation of 30 years of Doonesbury cartoons that satirize Donald Trump.

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