Sloane Crosley: TOP TEN BOOKS


Courtesy of Caitlin Mitchell

The author of the shrewd and generous memoir, Grief is for People, as well as the novels Cult Classic and The Clasp, and three collections of essays, I Was Told There’d Be Cake (a finalist for the 2008 Thurber Prize for American Humor), How Did You Get This Number, and Look Alive Out There, Sloane Crosley began her career helping other authors find an audience as a publicist for Vintage Books. “I have the same relationship with writing that I have with New York, which is that I’m just ever so slightly outside,” she has said. “I’m invited to the party, but I don’t feel totally comfortable. But you have to be slightly uncomfortable to be able to walk down the street and notice things.”

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


Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Joan Didion
I don’t remember the first time I read Goodbye to All That, but I do know that a little part of me thinks of it whenever I turn on the air conditioner. Didion is a big picture writer and a vital writer (On Self-Respect is required reading for any woman, Sentimental Journeys for any person). She’s a national treasure, but for me it’s the image of her taking a messy bite of a peach on the sidewalk that feels like the Didion I know.
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You’ve Got To Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories that Held Them in Awe

Edited by Rob Hansen and Jim Shepard
This anthology is like one of those fateful 20-something nights where you met a boyfriend, a best friend and got a lead on a job. It introduced me to Jim Shepard and Donald Batheleme. I often think of Amy Tan’s introduction of Molly Giles’ story, Pie Dance. Tan writes that upon hearing Giles read the story, she felt she didn’t yet have what it took to be a writer but she “also knew — as deeply as you can know something about yourself — that it would be worth a lifetime to try.” That’s one of the most genuine things I’ve ever heard a writer say about another writer.
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In Cold Blood

Truman Capote
By now, most everyone knows how revolutionary this book was, paving the way for a new genre of writing. But again, it’s the details that get to me (specifically of Nancy Clutter’s diary). It’s one of the most gruesomely human books I have ever read. Its contributions to literature are immeasurable; the world is better because it was written.
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Madame Bovary

Gustave Flaubert
I mean, Jesus Christ, it’s Madame Bovary. This is a novel that I adored when I read it. It was beautiful, scandalous, tortured and sympathetic. Then, while I was researching Guy de Maupassant for my first novel, The Clasp, I wound up reading a good deal about Flaubert as well. It’s impossible not to— the latter was the former’s mentor. So I have found myself revisiting Emma Bovary in recent years.
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The Once and Future King

T.H. White
As popular as this novel is among the Arthurian Legend fanatics and 13-year-old boys, I have always found it and its author very untrendy to love. Then Helen McDonald’s stunning H is For Hawk came along last year and blew up my spot. Still, I’m happy to share the love — and to know much more about T.H. White now.
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Is There No Place on Earth For Me?

Susan Sheehan
A mesmerizing look into mental illness. Susan Sheehan is unsentimental but empathetic and this is an incredibly suspenseful book about one woman’s life. I also read authors like Kay Jameson and Oliver Sachs after reading this book.
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Jean Stein
The ultimate oral history and still the most objectively cool book I’ve ever read. It’s perfectly structured and the most important book about America in the 1960s. And, beyond that, how a person gets destroyed. There’s a poem in it that Patti Smith wrote about Edie Sedgwick the day she died and I often think of it.
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Beyond the Far Side

Gary Larson
When I was 9 years old, I went to a book fair behind a church in rural New Hampshire. I was allowed to pick out two books. I really wanted the Gary Larson cartoons (the stuff that guy does with woodland creatures!).
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Far from the Madding Crowd

Thomas Hardy
… But I knew I should pick out a book book as well, so I grabbed the Thomas Hardy to balance it out. I remember trying to read it, highlighting all the words I didn’t understand. I gave it another crack a decade or so later and found it engrossing. Like a soap opera with sheep. Turns out there were woodland creatures in that one too.
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Birds of America

Lorrie Moore
I don’t know if there’s a stronger influence on my writing, both fiction and nonfiction, than Lorrie Moore. For a certain demographic of female writer, that’s a common sentiment. This sounds ludicrous, but just thinking of the table of contents makes me happy.
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