Authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature.
The National Book Award finalist Min Jin Lee on how the story of Joseph, and the idea that goodness can come from suffering, influences her work
The comedian and writer John Hodgman explains what Stephen King’s 1981 horror novel taught him about risking mistakes in storytelling—and fatherhood.
The author Carmen Maria Machado, a finalist for this year’s National Book Award in Fiction, discusses the brilliance of an eerie passage from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.
The Little Fires Everywhere novelist Celeste Ng explains how the surprising structure of the classic children’s book informs her work.
The Sour Heart author discusses Roberto Bolaño’s “Dance Card,” humanizing minor characters through irreverence, and homing in on history’s footnotes.
The novelist Scott Spencer on the English author’s short story “The Gardener” and what it reveals about transforming shame into art
The novelist Victor LaValle on how dark material hits hardest when it’s balanced out with wonder
A New York Times editor on the coffee-stained list she’s kept for almost three decades
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Elizabeth Strout discusses Louise Glück’s poem “Nostos” and the powerful way literature can harbor recollection.
Hannah Tinti, the author of The Good Thief, explains what she learned about patience and risk from the T.S. Eliot poem "East Coker."
The award-winning author discusses the poetry of Wendell Berry, and the importance of abandoning yourself to mystery.
The memoirist Melissa Febos discusses how an Annie Dillard essay, “Living Like Weasels,” helped refocus her life after overcoming addiction.
Dissecting a line from the author’s story “The Embassy of Cambodia,” Jonathan Lee questions his own myopia as a novelist.
The Lincoln in the Bardo author dissects the Russian writer’s masterful meditations on beauty and sorrow in the short story “Gooseberries,” and explains the importance of questioning your stance while writing.
The veteran author John Rechy discusses the powerful enigma of William Faulkner and the beauty of the unsolved narrative.
Ottessa Moshfegh, the author of the novel Eileen, opens up about coping with depression, how writing saved her life, and finding solace in an overlooked song.
The author Emily Ruskovich discusses the uncanny restraint of Alice Munro and the art of starting a short story.
What the violent suffering in Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot taught the author Laurie Sheck about finding inspiration in torment and illness
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon discusses what he learned about empathy from Borges’s “The Aleph.”
Franz Kafka’s work taught the writer Jonathan Lethem about how to incorporate chaos into narratives.
The novelist Nell Zink discusses the psalm that inspired her, and what she learned about the solitary artistic process from her Catholic upbringing.