5 lists of 10

by Daniel Johnson


Offered without explanation: some recommendations from Assignment’s Managing Editor, just in time for holiday shopping season.

My ten favorite books I’ve read this year, in no particular order:

1. The North Water by Ian McGuire

2. The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

3. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

4. Twenty Grand and Other Tales of Love and Money by Rebecca Curtis

5. The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt

6. Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash

7. I Am the Brother of XX by Fleur Jaeggy

8. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

9. History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

10. Autumn by Ali Smith


Ten anthologies/collected works I always find myself recommending to non-writer friends, or new writing students:

1. New American Stories ed. Ben Marcus

2. Best of Young American Novelists 3 by Granta

3. A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin

4. A Grace Paley Reader: Stories, Essays, and Poetry ed. Kevin Bowen and Nora Paley

5. Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story ed. Lorin Stein

6. 40 Short Stories: A Portable Anthology ed. Beverly Lawn

7. The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington

8. Park City: New and Selected Stories by Ann Beattie

9. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

10. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor (if only for that wonderful cover art by Charlotte Strick)


Ten articles by writers or about writing I’ve recently printed out and filed away so I can read them even after the machines take over:

1. “My Holy Land Vacation: Touring Israel with 450 Zionists” by Tom Bissell; Harper’s  

2. “My Writing Education: A Timeline” by George Saunders; The New Yorker

3. “The Kekulé Problem: Where Did Language Come From?” by Cormac McCarthy; Nautilus

4. “The Black Journalist and the Racial Mountain” by Ta Nehisi Coates; The Atlantic

5. “The Seventy-Four Best Lines in The Devil’s Dictionary” by Anthony Madrid; The Paris Review Daily

6. “They Could Be Heroes: Today’s Biggest Novelists Are Throwbacks to a Simpler Time” by Sam Sacks; New Republic

7. “Contest of Words” by Ben Lerner; Harper’s

8. “Let’s Take Down the Patriarchy With Storytelling” by Lauren Duca; Teen Vogue

9. “The Complete Sentence” by Jeff Dolven; The Paris Review Daily

10. “John Ashbery’s Whisper Out of Time” by Ben Lerner; The New Yorker


Ten literary(ish) Twitter feeds well worth your follow—some for industry news & insight, most for laughs:

1. @MobyDickatSea – quotes from Moby Dick that always seem quite poignant as responses to the political dumpster fire of the day

2. @Mcsweeneys – Official McSweeney’s Twitter Account

3. @rgay – Roxane Gay

4. @laurenduca – Lauren Duca

5. @NYTMinusContext – “All Tweets Verbatim From New York Times content,” posted without context.

6. @nyercartoons – “Daily Cartoons from The New Yorker

7. @NicholsonBaker8 – Nicholson Baker

8. @jamiattenberg – Jami Attenberg

9. @pronounced_ing – Celeste Ng

10. @JoyceCarolOates – Joyce Carol Oates (when she’s not trolling the internet with news of Cormac McCarthy’s fake death)


Ten books on my shelf that I intend to read before year’s end, in no particular order:

1. The Sellout by Paul Beatty

2. The Changeling by Victor LaValle

3. Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country & Other Stories by Chavisa Woods

4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

5.  A Life of Adventure and Delight by Akhil Sharma

6. Compass by Mathias Enard

7. Problems by Jade Sharma

8. How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas

9. Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides

10. Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

Daniel Johnson is a graduate of The Mountainview MFA in Fiction and NonfictionHe is currently an Editorial Assistant at Bedford/St. Martin's Press.