Litstack Rec | Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays & Yes, Chef

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Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, by Zadie Smith This collection came about by accident, Zadie Smith tells us in the foreword, but the voice and curiosity that drives it makes this a seamless and satisfying read. My hope, as a reader of essays, is to learn something, whether the topic […]

Litstack Recs | The Custom of the Country & Shakespeare in Kabul

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The Custom of the Country, by Edith Wharton I knew from the start that things would go badly for Ralph Marvell. He’s a writer who spends more time thinking about writing than actually doing it: ‘You ought to write’; they had one and all said it to him from the […]

Litstack Recs | The Good Soldier & D (A Tale of Two Worlds)

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The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford If this novel had been published under the title the author wanted, The Saddest Story, contemporary readers might have had a difficult time locating a copy. Fortunately, Ford Madox Ford agreed to his publisher’s suggestion of The Good Soldier, and with that, the […]

Litstack Recs | The Clothing of Books & Remote Control

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The Clothing of Books, by Jhumpa Lahiri “How do you clothe a book?” is the how this small, but powerful volume begins. For a writer whose stories are as personal and complex as Jhumpa Lahiri’s, a cover’s design presents a different set of questions. The Clothing of Books began as […]

Litstack Recs | The Places In-Between & Borne

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The Places In-Between, by Rory Stewart In 2002, Rory Stewart made a walk across Afghanistan from Herat to Kabul. A scholar of Afghan history and language, he aimed in those grave first years after 9/11, to learn “what [Afghanistan] was like now.”  Part memoir, part political and cultural history, Stewart […]

Litstack Recs |Out of Place: A Memoir & Unless

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Out of Place: A Memoir, by Edward Said Edward Said, the prolific author, political activist, pianist,  and music critic, rose to academic stardom in 1978 with the publication of Orientalism, a seminal critique of the appropriations and misrepresentations that founded the Western study of the East. Said, who died in […]

Litstack Recs | Orphans: Essays & When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

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Orphans: Essays, by Charles D’Ambrosio Hold a copy of Orphans in your hand, and its singularity is apparent. With its small format and the slender ribbon bookmark, the book can easily be tucked into a pocket, kept close to be read anywhere. Published in 2005, Orphans has since become a […]

Litstack Recs | Passage to Ararat & LaRose

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Passage to Ararat, by Michael J. Arlen During the Armenian genocide, 1.2 million Armenians were systematically murdered between 1915 and 1922 by Ottoman Turkish forces, and in Michael J. Arlen’s elegiac memoir, Passage to Ararat, winner of the National Book Award in 1975, Arlen writes to understand his own family’s […]

Litstack Recs | These Charming People: Stories & The Stargazer’s Sister

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These Charming People, stories by Michael Arlen In the period just after World War One, what was known as the fast set became a fascination for some English writers. The Bright Young Things of the 1920s—decadent young people whose disillusionment with the Great War caused old ideas about society and […]

Litstack Recs | Blue Nights & Ormeshadow

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Blue Nights, by Joan Didion Blue Nights is a counterpart to Didion’s 2005 memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, which tracks the aftermath of her husband John Gregory Dunne’s unexpected death in 2003. At the time of Dunne’s death, their daughter, Quintana Roo, was hospitalized, in a coma from a […]