A list by James Mustich
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James Mustich
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot
Robert Macfarlane
It’s high time for me to add this personal favorite to the site. In its eloquent, restorative pages Macfarlane narrates his paths along the ancient tracks that crisscross the British landscape—and even extend into and across the sea to other islands and continents. He rejoices not only in every stri...show more
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Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel
George Saunders
Saunders's acclaimed novel came out as I was in the home stretch of finishing the writing of 1,000 Books, and it took me longer than it should have to get around to reading it. It’s astonishing. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, “bardo” is the intermediate state between death and rebirth. So it might...show more
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Lost Children Archive
Valeria Luiselli
I included Luiselli’s The Story of My Teeth in 1,000 Books because I was charmed—wowed would be a more exact description—by her formal invention and stylistic élan, both of which are embodied with more gravity in this new and ambitious novel. The subject of children crossing borders—from Mexico to t...show more
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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
Shoshana Zuboff
Everything you need and—believe me, given the author’s brilliant insight into the workings of today’s technology giants—more than you may want to know about the crisis that grips our time. Zuboff’s analysis of the global architecture of data extraction and behavioral modification that Google and Fac...show more
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The Philosopher's Diet: How to Lose Weight & Change the World
Richard Watson
I could stand to lose twenty pounds. This is what Richard Watson has to say about that: “You know that to take off 20 pounds and keep them off you must change your life. It may be the hardest thing you ever do.” Now Mr. Watson is a man whose wisdom I respect; he was a Descartes scholar, an accomplis...show more
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First You Write a Sentence: The Elements of Reading, Writing . . . and Life
Joe Moran
One of the best books about writing I know. Pleasure of reading is its first virtue: Moran writes with élan, his chapters carrying their cargo of advice with a wit that leavens its weight. His own wide reading is evident in the array of examples he exhibits for our instruction and delight, his range...show more
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The Shadow of the Wind
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I’m surprised no one has beat me to the punch in adding this marvelous novel to the site, as it has been often raised as a favorite by audience members at our events. I first picked it up, soon after its translation into English in 2004, when I was down with a fever, and my condition certainly met i...show more
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Constellations: Reflections from Life
Sinéad Gleeson
Sinéad Gleeson’s Constellations was the best new book I read in 2019. In this collection of vividly composed essays drawn from life, we learn a lot about the author—her singular experience of bodily affliction, medical terror, illness, pain, and hospital stays; her attentions to childhood, loss, mot...show more
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Terra Nostra. English
Carlos Fuentes
Monumental work weaving historical and fictional figures of 16th century Spain and the Aztec culture of Mexico, dense, imaginative, mythological, with magical realism elements that explore the Spanish ethos in the graphic depiction of such characters as Philip II and Juana La Loca. Its brilliant swe...show more
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Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World
Maryanne Wolf
I love Maryanne's insights on the need to be critical readers of all forms of information. Especially, digital forms.
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Caught in the Web of Words: James A.H. Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary
Katherine Maud Elisabeth Murray
This is K. M. Elisabeth Murray’s biography of her grandfather, James A. H. Murray, founding editor and guiding light of the Oxford English Dictionary. In its pages, she relates the circuitous route by which the man found his moment, telling, in delicious detail (delicious, at least, to book geeks am...show more
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A Pelican in the Wilderness: Hermits, Solitaries and Recluses
Isabel Colegate
Discovering the ruins of an 18th-century hermitage on the land surrounding her home near Bath, the British novelist Isabel Colegate (The Shooting Party, The Summer of the Royal Visit) undertook its restoration, and embarked as well on this rich, suggestive, rewarding study of the human urge toward s...show more
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The Timeless Way of Building
Christopher Alexander
Many years ago my wife and I spent a week walking through Umbria, from hilltown to hilltown, marveling at many things, not least the distinctive beauty of each town. Reading Christopher Alexander’s provocative theory of architecture, elaborated in this rich and philosophic book, has given me words t...show more
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The Death of Artemio Cruz: A Novel
Carlos Fuentes
Here's the publisher's description: "As the novel opens, Artemio Cruz, the all-powerful newspaper magnate and land baron, lies confined to his bed and, in dreamlike flashes, recalls the pivotal episodes of his life. Carlos Fuentes manipulates the ensuing kaleidoscope of images with dazzling inventiv...show more
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This Business of Living: Diaries 1935-1950
Cesare Pavese
Pete Hamill listed this as one of his twenty favorite books in an email to me in 2009, which he sent after learning I had embarked on the 1,000 Books project. Here's an excerpt from Pavese's diaries: "6th December [1938] Old age—or maturity—falls also on the external world. The clear, freezing wint...show more
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N. C. Wyeth: A Biography
David Michaelis
Pictures can inhabit stories, breathing bright, vivid life into the spirits conjured up by words. No artist of “storied pictures” has been as stunning a magician as Newell Convers Wyeth, who, as David Michaelis writes in this artful and absorbing biography, “swept the cobwebs out of illustrated boo...show more
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1876
Gore Vidal
Here's what I wrote about this entertaining novel in the November 3, 2020 entry for the 1,000 Books Page-A-Day calendar: "If you’re uneasy about the security of our elective processes as you cast your vote today, escape into the corridors of the past, where things were—well, to be honest, just as ...show more
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Hav
Jan Morris
In this beguiling novel, Jan Morris invents her own city and sends us letters from it, detailing its fabled history and curious customs before bringing the story up to date with a report on her invention’s faceless twenty-first-century makeover. Steeped in the culture of a wholly imaginary place, Ha...show more
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The Arrival
Shaun Tan
This stunning volume chronicles—in a wordless pictorial narrative—an immigrant’s parting from his family and journey toward the future in a new land that is simultaneously ominous and hopeful. Told in drawings of varying sizes—sometimes there are twelve panels to a page, sometimes four; there are ma...show more
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Autumn Journal
Louis MacNeice
I learned about this journal in poem form last year, but I didn’t read it until now. I am glad; I appreciate it on a much higher level than I would have a year ago. It was written in the fall of 1938 in the period when England announced it was entering into WWII. It’s an amazing articulation of the ...show more
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