Tracy Kidder


Three works of genuine mastery.




From his early bestseller The Soul of a New Machine, a groundbreaking chronicle of the birth of the computer, Tracy Kidder has brought both broad cultural perspective and intense human interest to his studies of the rapidly changing contexts of modern life. His newest book, Strength in What Remains, traces one man's journey from war-torn Burundi to the U.S., and back again, with characteristic concentration and compassion. What are his three favorite books?


Books by Tracy Kidder




The Thing Itself

By Richard Todd


"Wit is a word that a number of contemporary artists inaccurately apply to their own work. For an example of the real thing, I suggest The Thing Itself, a haunting and often very funny meditation on authenticity. The author, Richard Todd, taught me how to write a book, but I don't think this fact has colored my admiration for the one that he has written. If anything, I ought to feel reluctant to praise it, since I wouldn't want him to give up editing. "





The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

By Ernest Hemingway


"At some point during my first year at college, I discovered Hemingway, and began ardently trying to imitate him. I don't re-read his novels now, for fear of finding they have aged as gracelessly as I have. I do re-read his short stories, though, with pleasure and admiration, and also with nostalgia. Even today, I believe, aspiring writers could find much worse places to begin."





Moby Dick

By Herman Melville


"My favorite novel, which resembles no other novel I've ever read. A very funny and haunting book. But, I believe, no one under forty ought to attempt it."

April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

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.