"Where I Like To Read" is a series of short author interviews and blog posts in which writers share their literary tastes and their favorite places to curl up with a good book.
Where do you like to read, and what is the last book you read there?
In this chair in my living room that is the most expensive piece of furniture I will ever own. I don't even know if the chair is comfortable so much as I'm constantly aware of how much it costs, and that makes me want to spend a lot of time in it. The most recent book I read there was D.T. Max's biography of David Foster Wallace, which is a great book. It's like an un-David Foster Wallace book because it's written in very straightforward, workmanlike prose.
We have this habit of romanticizing the lives of writers. I remember when I was a kid, I was like, "I want to be Kurt Vonnegut." I knew consciously that Kurt Vonnegut had attempted to kill himself, and he was not a happy person, and this was very difficult for him, and [being a writer] was not a source of unambiguous pleasure. Still, I was like, I want to have Kurt Vonnegut's life. So what I thought was great about the biography was I read it and felt very grateful to him for writing and for working hard while he was alive, but not for one hot second did I ever want to be David Foster Wallace. Until then, I did. It's not that easy to be me, but it seems really hard to be David Foster Wallace.
What is the one book that you'd recommend to everyone?
I am still bowled over by this great Young Adult novel by David Levithan called "Every Day," which is about a character with no gender or body who wakes up every day in the body of a different person. It's a really impressive execution of a really great premise.
What classic do you think should be required reading for all high school students?
Gatsby. You can't not like "The Great Gatsby." It's got the best sentences in, like, ever.
What is the worst book you've ever read?
That's hard. I've read a lot of bad books. I used to review books for a living, and when you're a reviewer you read tons of terrible books. The classic I liked the least of the ones I've read was probably "Ethan Frome". I like Edith Wharton, I just didn't like "Ethan Frome". I thought it was a lot of work towards just the one thing. It took a long time to get to just one plot event. It's assigned in high schools instead of Wharton's better books because it's shorter.
I just read "Fahrenheit", and I thought it was a good and interesting book, but I was thinking, the reason that this is assigned in high schools is primarily because it's 157 pages long. I should write a novella! I should write "Heart of Darkness"!
What are you working on right now?
I'm starting to write out character sketches, but if I say anything about it I'll probably be lying, because it'll change later.
What's inspiring your work right now?
The idea of "the authentic self," and how everyone is always talking about "being yourself," and how when you're yourself you get friends or you get boyfriends, and until you're yourself you don't. It's a crazy idea, because who's self would you otherwise be being? That relationship between constructed identities and identities that feel authentic to you is really fascinating to me. I think about it a lot.
Will it be a Young Adult book?
Yeah. I'm not interested in writing for adults. I like them as people! I don't like the way they publish books in that world. Nothing ever gets a chance. I like our world because the good books, the best books, hang around. With "The Fault in our Stars," way more than 50 percent of readers are adults.