Feature

Elizabeth Strout's 6 favorite books

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author recommends books by Virginia Woolf, Kurt Vonnegut, and more

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai (New Directions, $14).

This book just blew me away because of its voice. It's an account, written in three notebooks, of a man in Japan whose sense of alienation is so profound that he attempts suicide. Others might consider the book relentlessly grim, but I love it because that voice is so strong and so pure.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Mariner, $14).

I have re-read this book every few years from the time I was in my 20s, and I am always so interested how different it seems each time. Clarissa Dalloway — deciding to get the flowers herself, as the book opens — seemed in my youth to be a lovely woman. As I grew older, I saw more and more the sadness that beats in her heart. And Septimus Smith and his wife provide such a wonderful, and tragic, juxtaposition to her life of luxury.

Another Country by James Baldwin (Vintage, $16).

Many years ago, when I first read Baldwin's 1962 novel about a doomed Greenwich Village jazz drummer, I thought, "Wow, I can't believe it. The narrator is so fierce and strong, and the book pulsates with such honesty. The language — !"

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (Scribner, $18).

I have loved Hemingway's Spanish Civil War epic since I was 17, and each time I come back to it, it always surprises me. I'm also interested in the fact that many of his sentences are actually much longer than we tend to remember. They go many places in this book.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro (Vintage, $16).

Munro brings such great authority to the page that I will follow her anywhere. And she takes me many places; I am never disappointed. In the title story, for example, she moves the point of view with such ease all around a small Canadian prairie town.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (Dial, $16).

I came to this book later in life. I think it is, among other things, the loveliest, most delicate account of post-traumatic stress I've ever read — like the water that simply runs from the eyes of Billy Pilgrim.

Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer-winning author of Olive Kitteridge. Like that 2008 work, her new book, Anything Is Possible, is a collection of interconnected stories, these set in the hometown of the title character of 2016's My Name Is Lucy Barton.

Recommended

Bowing to Beijing
Tom Cruise.
Briefing

Bowing to Beijing

The daily gossip: July 30, 2021
House of Gucci.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: July 30, 2021

Watch Lady Gaga and Adam Driver in splashy 1st trailer for House of Gucci
Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani.
coming soon

Watch Lady Gaga and Adam Driver in splashy 1st trailer for House of Gucci

Disney issues scathing response to Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow lawsuit
Scarlett Johansson.
scorched earth approach

Disney issues scathing response to Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow lawsuit

Most Popular

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?
Tom Brady, Joe Biden
Quotables

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?

Former Michigan Sen. Carl Levin dies at 87
Former Sen. Carl Levin.
rest in peace

Former Michigan Sen. Carl Levin dies at 87

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee arrested at voter rights protest
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is arrested on Thursday at a voter rights protest.
good trouble

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee arrested at voter rights protest