If I had to write a tag cloud for the last ten years of my professional life, books would be about that size. Working in publishing has maybe been my most defining characteristic as an adult--or, at least, the greatest-common-denominator one, because just about everyone can and will talk to me about what they're reading and what to read next. It's part of my job to recommend books and help people find the books they want--certainly that is one of the best perks of what we do at Amazon--but I love getting recommendations as much as giving them. Sometimes I love them even more, because it's a great gift when you get tipped off to something you might otherwise have missed. So what I offer you here is a shortlist of books released in the last decade that were handed to me (plus a pick of mine from months past). Now I'm handing them off to you, with one request: if you've read any of these, tell me what else you'd think I'd like. I've got a whole new decade to fill up. I expect the next 10 years to be full of pre-2010 books, if the last 10--chock full of 90s books--are any indication. --Anne
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman: This is a great moment-in-time book for the Aughts. It will remind you, perhaps, of the things you used to talk about with your friends before they went off and got married and bought houses. (Stuff like the movie Memento and what new CDs you want to burn and how great The X-Files used to be.) I'm not sure how well it stands the test of time, but just flipping through it I was laughing my face off. (See also: Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield, which I still crush.)
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: Pulling this off the shelf I found a boarding pass for a flight from Washington, D.C. to Seattle--my on-the-way-home book from Book Expo. This is exactly the kind of book you can (and want) to get lost in: it's aching, but it's also full of humor and vision, and it had a wonderful narrative structure I didn't expect. I also think that it weren't for Fun Home, there'd be no Stitches.
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff: The premise of this book sounds preposterous--a huge lake monster dwelling in an upstate New York town as old as the hills dies all of a sudden--but it's an event that gives way to a richly imagined and entertaining history of a town, a family, and a young woman who discovers she's ready to come home. It reminded me a little of John Irving.
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen: I read this book at what I believe to be the true peak of Franzen-mania, pre-Oprah, and I read it with the expectation of hating it well beyond page 101 (which most reviewers said would be the point at which I'd love it). They ended up being right. I've read two novels in the last ten years that live convincingly in those twisted, strange places that develop in families--this is one of them, The Northern Clemency is the other.
Billy Collins Live by Billy Collins: This is an audiobook, a wonderfully produced recording of Billy Collins reading at Symphony Space in New York City. It introduced me to him and it changed my life. I play this for everyone who comes to my house, and I start with his reading of the poem "Litany." One listen will quickly turn into (according to my iTunes play count)... 118.
In the Woods and The Likeness by Tana French: Now is the time to read these smart, bracing, eerie mysteries set in Dublin and thereabouts (which are not part of a series but linked by characters), because Tana French's third book is coming this summer. You don't need to have read these to read the new one, but you should.
The Maytrees by Annie Dillard: This novel is the best and all-too-rare kind of love story, where you see glimpses of new love grow into deep bonds of trust and friendship that withstand, and even embrace, the unexpected change in tides. It's set in Provincetown, which adds another dimension I loved: gorgeous, unexpected moments on the beach. (See also: Home by Marilynne Robinson)