Authors Reveal: What I Read When I Have Two Minutes of Peace
We asked some of the most celebrated authors in America what they read in the doctor's office or in the line for carpool—any time they have a short, unexpected window of free time.
"The Oxford English Dictionary
, though each of its 20 volumes is heavy, so I sometimes photocopy a page or two to read for fun."
— Oliver Sacks
, author of Hallucinations
"John Cheever's collected stories
. You can jump in and out and still feel invested in a world gone by, chew the stories like gum, savor each line and know that you've got a whole lot more to go. What's not to like? Except that I'm rarely in the position of having only a few moments of uninterrupted peace—at least since the children have grown up. But even when they were little, I'd just step right over them, book in hand, and go crank the stereo."
— T.C. Boyle
, author of San Miguel
"At the moment, it's Louise Glück's Poems 1962-2012
. A good poem is like a strong elixir or, better yet, an aperitif."
— A. M. Homes
, author of May We Be Forgiven
by Nikolai Gogol.
I go back to it because I can't figure out the source of its magic. But I also can't deny that magic—it's present in every paragraph. The story has a great heart. It's saying something deep about what we need to do (be kind) and why it's so hard (people are strange and off-putting). It's crazy and self-contradictory and naughty and reckless. It refused to be reduced. It has this God's-eye feeling—this feeling of a Creator looking down on the flawed world He's created, with pity but also ferocity."
— George Saunders
, author of Tenth of December
"The Bible, New Testament
. I can flip to almost any page, although, of course, Revelation makes me a TINY bit tense."
— Anne Lamott
, author of Help, Thanks, Wow
"Any of Tobias Wolff's short stories
. Whenever I want to remind myself why I love fiction, or how much can be done in a few pages, I turn to my Collected Stories of Tobias Wolff
, and I have never been let down by it."
— John Boyne
, author of The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket
"Currently, it is a collection of short stories by Linda McCullough Moore, This Road Will Take Us Closer to the Moon
. I am savoring this little collection like a precious box of dark chocolates. She writes with gorgeous dry humor and insight. Here's a first line: 'I feel like I'm dying, but I'm not exactly breaking new ground here.'"
— Jacqueline Sheehan
, author of Picture This
Next: The best books for long trips