Kristen Johnston

The actress and author on reading pleasures old and new.



Best known for her role as alien-among-us Sally Solomon on the hit 1990s sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun, Kirsten Johnston brings an outsized personality and brash sense of humor to award-winning work on the stage and screen. Her new memoir, Guts, chronicles her upbringing in an affluent Wisconsin suburb, her early success as an actor in New York's Atlantic Theater Company, and her struggles with addiction. Here she shares three fiction favorites from her shelves.


Purchase Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster


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By Emma Donoghue


"This novel is kind of indescribable. It is just an exceptional idea and is brilliantly executed. What an imagination author Emma Donoghue has. I dare you not to fall in love with Jack."






Don't Get Too Comfortable

By David Rakoff


"A collection of funny short stories written with the perfect combination of curiosity, exhaustion, and self-deprecation. David has a beautiful mind."







The Stand

By Stephen King


"Look, I had to -- he's been my favorite writer since I was 14, and I've re-read this book a hundred times. I think what I love most about King isn't his macabre leanings; it's how he creates flawed characters you ROOT for. Not only that, but re-reading this book after September 11 gave me a whole new appreciation of its possibility."

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

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.