Book Review: Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008

nonrequiredTitle: Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008
Author: various, edited by Dave Eggers
Genre: various
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy that was a gift from Vasilly

I have read several editions of the Best American series – essays and short stories – but this was my first foray into the Nonrequired Reading titles edited by Dave Eggers. This book is an eclectic collection of short stories, essays, magazine articles, selections from graphic novels, and odd things like lists of Facebook groups and registered dog names. And yes, I read every bit of it, and enjoyed most of it. 🙂

Some of my favorite selections from The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008:

Short stories:

~ My Massive Feelings by Laurie Weeks – This short story is in the form of letters/diary entries addressed to Sylvia Plath by an angst-ridden teenage girl. Read it online here.
~ Are You There God? It’s Me. Also, a Bunch of Zombies by Jake Swearingen – This is a young man’s diary during a zombie apocalypse. Read it online here.
~ Darkness by Andrew Sean Greer – This is a story about two women living after a disaster that plunges the world into darkness. You can read the first part of it here – at your own risk, though, because I guarantee you’ll want to either buy the book or the back issue so you can read the rest.


~ Searching for Zion by Emily Raboteau – This essay is an African-American woman’s search for the Promised Land, and a portrayal of black Jews in Israel. Read it online here.
~ Bill Clinton, Public Citizen by George Saunders – This is an article Saunders wrote after traveling with Clinton in his work for AIDs intervention in Africa. I’m not a huge Clinton fan, but this article had me rethinking some things. (I can’t find a link to it online.)
~ Pearls Before Breakfast by Gene Weingarten – This article from the Washington Post is about a stunt the newspaper staged at a main Washington metro station, in which world-renowned classical violinist Joshua Bell played in the station plaza posing as a street musician. The reaction of the people who heard him that day is fascinating, and a little sad. You can read it online here. You can also see video of the performance here.

Thank you, Vasilly, for the gift – I spent many enjoyable hours with this book. 🙂

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12 Responses to Book Review: Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008

  1. Lezlie says:

    I love other books in this series, but have never read one of the “Nonrequired” ones. Maybe I should pick this up. Looks interesting!

    .-= Lezlie´s last blog ..ANGEL TIME =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Lezlie – I liked the fact that it brought articles/stories to my attention that I normally wouldn’t come across.

  2. JoAnn
    Twitter: lakesidemusing

    This looks so interesting! I’m going to print out Pearls Before Breakfast to read later ..thanks for the link.
    .-= JoAnn´s last blog ..Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto =-.

  3. Kathy says:

    Interesting collection of stories! Glad you enjoyed it.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Review: French Milk =-.

  4. J.S. Peyton says:

    “Nonrequired Reading” was the first version of the Best American series I ever read and I’ve been a big, big fan of the whole series ever since. Sadly, there are just so many of them and I can barely keep up! I’m pretty sure I have this one on my TBR shelf, along with this year’s Nonrequired Reading, and the 2009 editions for the short stories, mysteries, essays, science and nature writing, travel writing, and …. good, god! What am I doing here! I need to be reading! Lol

    Glad you liked it. 🙂
    .-= J.S. Peyton´s last blog ..Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories: Post-Read Thoughts =-.

  5. Pingback: The Sunday Salon – December 6, 2009 (the “November reading wrap-up” edition) | BOOKS AND MOVIES

  6. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly

    Awww. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book.
    .-= Vasilly´s last blog ..Poetry Wednesday =-.

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