Adam Gopnik recommends six books

Longtime New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik‘s most recent book, The Real Work, explores how artists and exalted others reach an unsurpassed level of mastery. He considers the process and what it might mean for those mere mortals who seek inspiration or who would follow in the masters’ footsteps.

The Week used the occasion to quote Gopnik’s recommended six books:

Life of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell (1791)

The Most of Liebling, by A.J. Liebling (1963)

The Early Stories, by John Updike (2003)

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction, by J.D. Salinger (1955)

Swann’s Way, by Marcel Proust (1913)

Voltaire in Love, by Nancy Mitford (1957)

Of Updike, he writes, “Miracles of observation, evocation, and poignant emotion. Though Updike is not a writer of happy subjects—the pains of marriage, the loss of time—he makes readers happy by the sheer perfection of his craft and his deep delight in the sensual surface of the world. He sings, and we harmonize.”

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