Classic Coverage: Anthony Doerr, Barbara Barrie, and Eileen Battersby

A weekly roundup of book recommendations from your favorite authors and tastemakers.

Classic Coverage: Anthony Doerr, Barbara Barrie, and Eileen Battersby

Photo: Anthony Doerr, Courtesy of Todd Meier / Barbara Barrie.

Anthony Doerr

The author of All the Light We Cannot See discusses books that influenced him in The New York Times Sunday Book Review’s “By the Book.”

Microbe Hunters, by Paul de Kruif (1926)

Doerr—who wrote a science book column for The Boston Globe—declares that his all-time favorite science book is “a 1926 microbiology classic that brims with humor and fervor and wonder.” 

Be True to Your School: A Diary of 1964, by Bob Greene (1987)

“I don’t remember much about the book itself, but our 10th-grade English teacher, Mr. Jay, had us read the book, then keep a daily journal. I fell immediately in love with the ritual, the work of transcribing my days into sentences. When summer arrived, I didn’t stop; I haven’t really stopped since. I like to think that maintaining that practice all these years—translating experience into language—has helped me become a more attentive person.”

The Story and Its Writer, edited by Ann Charters (2006)

“A monumental, 1,600-page anthology of 115 short stories. There are so many amazing pieces of fiction in that book—arranged alphabetically from Chinua Achebe to Richard Wright. I discovered Cheever in there, and Barthelme, and Henry James, and a dozen others. That’s probably the one book I have opened at some point during each of the past 20 years.”

Calvin and Hobbes Boxed Set, by Bill Watterson (2012)

“Just looking at it makes me want to open it. Watterson wrote all those strips in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, just a couple of miles from where I grew up, and Calvin’s childhood of snowballs, ‘Transmogrifiers’ and monsters under the bed was my childhood.”


Barbara Barrie

The accomplished actress divulges her bookshelf contents in the New York Post‘s “In My Library.”

The Path to Power, by Robert Caro (1990)

“It’s the first of four biographies Bob Caro’s written about LBJ, and they’re the best biographies I’ve ever read. I’m from Texas, so I’m an LBJ fan . . . This book describes his life growing up in Texas’s hill country, which had no electricity until 1944.”

The Odyssey, by Homer; edited by Robert Fagles (1997)

“It opened my eyes—everything you read has a referral to it. Three months ago, I told my book club about this new version. Everyone groaned, but it was so great—we spent 2 ¹/₂ months discussing it!”


Eileen Battersby

The Irish Times literary correspondent recommends longer classic reads in “Time to read a good long book.”

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (1952)

“A big, unrelenting family saga full of symbolism and featuring one of the nastiest female characters in literature . . . Steinbeck is a powerful, highly moral writer very much from another time; he certainly makes you think about the ways in which people conduct themselves.”

Exodus, by Leon Uris (1958)

“This ‘thumping good’ read, written in cast-iron clunky prose, is about the founding of the modern state of Israel. On publication in 1958 . . . Exodus was the blockbuster that matched in sales those achieved by Gone With the Wind. If you haven’t read it, it does cast an emotive, bombastic spell.”

The Alexandra Quartet, by Lawrence Durrell (1957)

“Born in India, Durrell, an Irishman, spent much of his life as a British government official in the Middle East . . . [His] characters are vapid and depressed, suitably wanton and express themselves with a mock profundity . . . Should you be on the market for languor in a sultry location, seek no further.”


Stay tuned for next week’s roundup!


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