Heather Havrilesky

The author of Disaster Preparedness on works of fiction and memoir to read, and re-read.



Heather Havrilesky Memoirist and critic Heather Havrilesky debuted the archly funny "Polly Esther"  -- an alter ego whose illustrated adventures were one of the foundations of  the tongue-in-cheek humor of Suck.com -- in 1996, and has gone on to be a trailblazing and trenchant essayist on television and 21st-century culture for publications such as Salon and her own against-the-grain "advice" website Rabbit Blog.  Her new book Disaster Preparedness is a wistfully comic memoir of a childhood spent in anticipation of emergencies, and an illuminating meditation on a generation's neuroses.  Here, she talks about three of her favorite books.


Books by Heather Havrilesky





The Boys of My Youth

By Jo Ann Beard


"Beard writes about her life with the grace and flair of the very best fiction writers, translating her most conflicted moments and darkest days into emotionally wrenching, deliciously detailed scenes. Her impressionistic style pulls you in and breaks your heart over and over. I could read this book a million times and never get tired of it."




Everybody into the Pool

By Beth Lisick


"A Chelsea Handler for the smart, sly set, Lisick has a great sense of humor about herself and isn't afraid to reveal her worst intentions. Each story, whether it's about being a teenage tanorexic or an alt-weekly hack, tumbles head over heels toward some brand new revelation or insight. This is a deliriously funny, unapologetically dark book that's entertaining and thoughtful from start to finish."




Rabbit Is Rich

By John Updike


"Updike captures the inherent melancholy of American pop culture like no other writer. His prose is so fluid and evocative, and he crawls so completely into Rabbit's skin, that we experience Rabbit's longing and nostalgia as if it's our own. Reading the Rabbit series is like living an alternate life, from young adulthood to death."


April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.