My favorite NYRB Classics (so far)

Day Three of NYRB Classics Reading Week

As I mentioned earlier this week, my introduction to NYRB Classics was thanks to their great cover art. If it wasn’t for those covers I probably never would have come across these great books. These four titles are good enough reads that it really doesn’t matter what your reading interests are. They are all worth a read.

Stoner by John Williams.  Easily my favorite NYRB Classic and one of my favorite books of all time. Money quote from my own review:
It is true that I love a book with an academic setting, but I am not sure I have ever been pulled into that milieu in such an emotional way. There is one scene in the book where Stoner fairly and firmly confronts a student and a colleague during oral exams that had me so wound up that my heart was literally racing.
The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing. This one took me one or two attempts before I got into the swing of it. But once I did, I loved it. A really interesting whodunit, where you already know whodunit right from the start. This is suspense novel that is good even for those of us who don’t usually read that kind of thing. My review is here. Money quote from my review is actually Raymond Chandler:
I’m still a bit puzzled as to why no one has come forward to make me look like thirty cents. But except for an occasional tour-de-force like The Big Clock, no one has.
A Way of Life Like Any Other by Darcy O’Brien. This was a total sleeper for me. In general not a big fan of Hollywood related stories but this one is really witty and smart. And told from the point of view of a kid trying to cope with his once famous parents. From my review:
The [family] dysfunction [described in the novel] reminded me a bit of a more benign version of Augusten Burroughs’ memoirs. Except that O’Brien’s novel is much more a piece of literature than Burroughs’ David Sedaris-like regurgitation of his childhood. Plus O’Brien isn’t gay, which I only mention now because his attempts at wooing females and his quest to get laid are pretty comic.
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. Many of you have read this one, and it certainly is one of the better known NYRB Classics titles out there. And if you haven’t read this book and are looking for a wonderful, uplifting story, this is it. Much better than movie in my humble opinion. My review here.

10 thoughts on “My favorite NYRB Classics (so far)

  1. Ti November 9, 2010 / 10:55 am

    I'm so glad you posted this. I was thinking about buying some of these books for a co-worker friend and wasn't sure about some of them. He enjoys cover art as much as I do but I wanted to get him a good read too.


  2. Paperback Reader November 9, 2010 / 3:12 pm

    I recommend Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker; I reviewed it last year.


  3. Mystica November 9, 2010 / 3:57 pm

    I havent read any of the four you have mentioned so I am going to track them down. Thanks for the post.


  4. Vintage Reading November 9, 2010 / 5:50 pm

    Not read Enchanted April, but I did love the film. Adore Miranda Richardson. Wasn't Cher in it or am I thinking of another film?


  5. fleurfisher November 9, 2010 / 6:28 pm

    Well that's another three books for the wishlist. It's going to grow this week. And I only left off The Enchanted April because I already have it as a VMC.


  6. Frances November 9, 2010 / 9:27 pm

    You are out-doing yourself this week, Thomas. And reminding me of how much I still want to read Stoner.


  7. Mrs. B. November 9, 2010 / 10:21 pm

    I really want to read Stoner now after reading William Rycroft's review and now yours. I must have missed that one when you first wrote it. And oh yes, The Enchanted April is most definitely enchanting!


  8. William Rycroft November 10, 2010 / 12:06 pm

    Not surprised to see Stoner at the top of your list Thomas, but I'm ashamed to admit that the three other titles (and their authors) are new to me. Must remedy that. Great to see your enthusiasm with this project too.


  9. jane November 14, 2010 / 5:59 am

    Fantastic post – am especially drawn to read Stoner, but the Enchanted April appeals too. I am a complete NYRB newbie and reading all the reviews this week I feel rather like a child in a sweetshop with only a sticky fifty pence piece in her grubby little hand – what to buy?! Oh, and that Raymond Chandler quote is fantastic as well!


  10. Thomas at My Porch November 15, 2010 / 4:22 am

    Ti: Well these are all good to choose from.

    Claire: I don't know that one, I will have to look into it.

    Mystica: Glad you liked it.

    Vintage Reading: The book is so lovely you should love it. Cher was not in that one, but I know what you are talking about.

    Fleurfisher: Glad you are finding things you like.

    Frances: I can't imagine you not liking Stoner. Alghough I begin to worry I might be overhyping it.

    Mrs B: Stoner is definitely worth your time.

    William: I've become a bit of a Stoner evangelist these days.

    Jane: I think Enchanted April is probably easier to find in other editions or in the libarary so making Stoner your first NYRB would be the right thing to do…


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