THE IDIOT, by Elif Batuman: Because her extended metaphors tickle the best part of my brain.

THE WINDFALL, by Diksha Basu: Because the central character, a middle-aged, overnight, tech millionaire, IS India.

HOME FIRE, by Kamila Shamsie: Because it portrays contemporary immigrant culture across 3 countries but I read it in 2 breathless sittings (THIS! IS! DRAMA!!!)

MAGPIE MURDERS by Anthony Horowitz: Because I miss Agatha Christie, and England.

THEFT BY FINDING by David Sedaris: Because he has always noticed everything.


Because thank you for your lists, every highbrow media type, but all of those books are depressing. Here are five great books I read in 2016 that might make you want to keep living, too.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Because she is the only writer other than J.K. Rowling who doesn’t think young people are stupid.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth Mckenzie. Because her spare, funny, odd writing style will bewitch you. imagine Lukas Moodysson, novelist.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, for running the breadth of 20th century Russian history without boring us for one second.

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein. Because she is dreadful at making plans, but reading this book is exactly like spending time with her.

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. Because it is Thirtysomething. and because her writing feels so effortless you think you can do it too (you can’t).



I find most year-end lists competitive and confusing. How can something be the “best” if you haven’t read every single book that was published?   Read More



My first summer of law school, missing Italy like a phantom limb, Read More


My piece on Steve Ettlinger and Dwight Eschliman’s art/science/food book, Ingredients, in this month’s Mental Floss.