Imagine: You’re in New York City at a large gathering of authors and book industry people. Someone wants you to give away books, twelve of them, to each person there. You get to choose any books you want, knowing that you will be judged on the mercurial and mercenary standards of Book People.
If this scenario sounds familiar, you’re probably Jennifer Egan, author of “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” and chosen “book bag” curator for the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. She wrote about her picks in detail on The Daily Beast Book Beast Page, but here’s the quick run down:
- Emma by Jane Austen
- The Image by Daniel J. Boorstin
- Don Juan by Lord Byron
- Underworld by Don DeLillo
- Middlemarch by George Elliot
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
- The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard
- The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
- Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
- Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
- The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
- Germinal by Émile Zola
If this scenario sounds awesome to you, tell us in the comments which books you would choose and why. Or just feel free to lay judgements on Egan’s and other people’s lists.
UPDATE: Don’t feel pressure to name twelve books. It’s your bag. Put in as many or as few books as you like.
– Michael Moats