Literary Picks from the New Yorker

Selections from the New Yorker’s archives are free this summer, which got me into an obsessive bout of clicking and downloading. I’d recently seen a compendium of good lists of what to read, and then as I read through, I realized the lists’ personal essay and memoir selections were a bit sparse. So here are some good ones I found… heavy on the McPhee, of course, and only back until 2007.


Elicitation,” John McPhee on interviewing.

Are You Listening? Conversations with my Deaf Mother,” Andre Aciman.

Cheap Words: Amazon is Good for Customers. But is it Good for Books?” George Packer.


Why? The Fictions of Life and Death,” James Wood.

Thanksgiving in Mongolia: Adventures and Heartbreak at the Edge of the Earth,” Ariel Levy.

Butter,” Akhil Sharma.

Family Meal,” Gabrielle Hamilton.

Bread and Women,” Adam Gopnik.

Now We are Five,” David Sedaris.

My Dear God: A Young Writer’s Prayers,” Flannery O’Connor.

What’s Wrong with Me? I Had an Autoimmune Disease. Then the Disease Had Me,” Meghan O’Rourke.

The Prodigal Daughter: Writing, History, Mourning,” Jill Lepore.

From the Diaries of Pussy-Cake,” Gary Shteyngart.

Draft No. 4,” John McPhee.

Becoming Them: Our Parents, Ourselves,” James Wood.

Structure,” John McPhee.


Some Notes on Attunement: A Voyage around Joni Mitchell.”

Shaken,” Victor Zapana

Over the Wall,” Roger Angell

A Psychotronic Childhood,” Colson Whitehead.


Mapping Home,” Aleksander Hemon

Dear Life,” Alice Munro.

The Aquarium,” Aleksander Hemon.


A Widow’s Story,” Joyce Carol Oates.

The Patch,” John McPhee.

The Dime Store Floor: What Did Childhood Smell Like?” David Owen.


Checkpoints,” John McPhee


Family Matters,” Henry Louis Gates.

The Bishop’s Daughter,” Honor Moore.


My Life List,” John McPhee.

Forbidden Fare,” Orhan Pamuk

How I Spent the War,” Günter Grass

The Past Conditional,” Julian Barnes.

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