Books: Joshua Ferris

My Five Most Important Books
1. "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble"
by William Steig. My father read this to me until I was too old, around senior year of college.

2. "Pale Fire" by Vladimir Nabokov. Asks: is it such a crime for a lonely bachelor to install two Ping-Pong tables in his basement?

3. "No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith" by Fawn Brodie. A scrupulously nonjudgmental bio of the founder of Mormonism, no less exciting than the story of the great Gatsby.

4. "White Noise" by Don DeLillo. While not his most enduring, complex or seductive, this is his most tender, romantic and funny.

5. "The Essays and Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson." So much more than a high-school chore. Emerson is the first and final American word on everything from nature to power to fate.

A book to which you always return: "The Good Soldier" by Ford Madox Ford. The narrator is out to lunch while his wife schemes.

A book you hope parents read to their children: "On Death and Dying" by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Start them young.