Katie Roiphe

The author of In Praise of Messy Lives picks three favorites.



Katie Roiphe's essays for publications such as Harper's, Slate, Vogue, and The New York Times have taken on some of the most controversial issues of the day, from the definition of sexual assault to the onus placed on single mothers. Her new book, In Praise of Messy Lives, collects some of her most arresting writing and calls for an embrace of the complexity of a rapidly changing cultural landscape. This week, the writer points us to a trio of reads that echo her theme, works of fiction and nonfiction that deal with distinctly untidy emotions.


Books by Katie Roiphe



Light Years

By James Salter


"One thing I love about this gorgeous novel is the originality of its subject: the unhappiness latent in happiness. It's a wholly original, lushly described portrait of a marriage, in which happiness is entwined with restlessness, satisfaction with longing; it's a private world evoked so thoroughly and intimately it's more vivid than your own. I thought about lines in it for weeks after I read it. I lent my copy to someone else only with great trepidation and an actual sense of loss."



Are You My Mother?

By Alison Bechdel


"This wildly original, hugely charismatic memoir veers from Dr. Suess to D. W. Winnicott to Virginia Woolf without sacrificing lightness or grace. It's an investigation of the morality and difficulty of writing, combined with a deep, affecting, funny look at family and what it does to you. It's both hugely entertaining and the kind of book that changes the way you think about the world a little."



The Silent Woman

By Janet Malcolm


"This elegant and penetrating investigation of Sylvia Plath mythologizing has inspired and astonished me for years. In Malcolm's exploration of Plath, the biographers become characters, and the true subject is the construction of the story, how biographies are made. It is a wonderfully written, fiercely smart, literary mystery story which speaks to the creation of private mythologies and the flawed conception of truth we all live with."

April 16: ""Blue pottery vases and bowls for flowers are most attractive, and certain blue books...will repeat and emphasize color."

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.