David Foster Wallace's 10 favorite books

Before his suicide in 2008, David Foster Wallace authored three novels, including 'Infinite Jest' which Time magazine named among the All-Time 100 Greatest Novels (1923-2006). Wallace is praised for his short story collections and philosophical essays, such as 'This  is Water,' given as a memorable commencement address at the Kenyon College graduation in 2005. What did Wallace himself like to read? Prior to his death, he contributed a list of his 10 favorite books to J. Peder Zane's compilation "The Top Ten: Writer's Pick Their Favorite Books." His choices – ranging from spiritual to spine-tingling – might surprise you. 

1. ‘The Screwtape Letters,’ by C.S. Lewis

Lewis’s allegory portrays temptation as a sly tribe of demons whose sole function is to lead their “patients” astray. The plot unfolds through letters from an experienced demon, Screwtape, to a novice demon, Wormwood, advising Wormwood on the art of discouraging a human.  The product of these humorous letters is an insightful commentary on the internal warfare of the human mind.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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