Curtis Sittenfeld: TOP TEN BOOKS

CurtisSittenfeld_Josephine Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld is a master of creating sharp-witted female protagonists in stories that reflect a Jane Austen-like cunning in using sly comedy as a vehicle for social observation. The author of seven novels, including her bestselling debut, Prep, as well as her Laura Bush-inspired American Wife, a contemporary Pride and Prejudice update, Eligible, and her Hillary Clinton-meets-Sliding Doors “what if” novel, Rodham. Of her latest novel, Romantic Comedy, she says, “People say, ‘Write the book you want to read’, but I think I was actually writing the world I wanted to exist in.” 

Below are Curtis Sittenfeld’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


A Lucky Man

Jamel Brinkley
This is my newest favorite book. This story collection’s protagonists are men and boys in New York experiencing pain and longing as they go about their daily lives. It’s amazingly insightful and emotionally nuanced.
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If You Follow Me

Malena Watrous
A recent college graduate moves to Japan to teach English and struggles with a) her feelings and b) local rules about disposing of garbage. This novel is very smart and very funny.
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Lily King
In 1930s New Guinea, three anthropologists conduct research and lead messy personal lives. “Euphoria,” is an impeccably researched book in which the research perfectly serves the plot.
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Anywhere But Here

Mona Simpson
Simpson describes a complex mother-daughter relationship with brilliant complexity and unflinching honesty. She also does a remarkable job capturing a sense of place, whether the setting is Wisconsin or Los Angeles.
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The Palace Thief

Ethan Canin
Canin was my graduate school advisor, but well before that, I was an admirer of his work. This book of four long stories is wise and calm, beautifully plotted and patiently told.
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Ian McEwan
Everything Atonement does, it does incredibly well, including depicting characters of varying ages and temperaments and showing the intensity of early romantic love and connection and the very different intensity of haunting regret.
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How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

Mohsin Hamid
Hamid performs intricate, impossible tricks with time and place in this novel, and he’s so artful that it all feels not just plausible but effortless. Plus, the not-conventionally-requited love story is completely swoony.
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Old School

Tobias Wolff
“Old School,” is my favorite fictional depiction of boarding school (yes, including “Prep,” my own novel). These episodic, story-like chapters set at a boys’ school in the early 1960s are knowing and hilarious and poignant.
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Make Your Home Among Strangers

Jennine Capo Crucet
A first-generation college student navigates the challenges and privileges of an elite Northeastern university, while back home in Miami, her family and boyfriend do and don’t move on without her. Crucet has so much to say about class and relationships and politics, and she says it by writing terrific, deeply satisfying scenes featuring complicated and realistic characters.
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The Progress of Love

Alice Munro
Munro is a touchstone for me, and she’s been my favorite writer for more than 25 years. This is the first book I read by her, when I was a junior in high school. Right away, I found in her work something that was recognizable to me—and, at the same time, I found some fictional alchemy that even now remains beautiful and inspiringly elusive.
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