A Life in Books: Richard Ford

"Independence Day," the second book in Ford's Frank Bascombe trilogy, won the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/ Faulker Award. His picks:

1. "Essays" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. A plain-spoken, cunning tour of inconsistency, yearning and faith.

2. "The Moviegoer" by Walker Percy. A seriocomic masterpiece that exploits the human connection between bliss and bale.

3. "Inferno" by Dante. Serious things here. But often very funny too, and useful: it lets you know what really happens if you're bad.

4. "Collected Stories" by John Cheever. A feast of great wit and dire, closeorder human observation that perfects the short-story form.

5. "The Snopes Trilogy" by William Faulkner. America's best writer of the last century at his funny-nastiest and most accessible.

A BOOK TO WHICH YOU ALWAYS RETURN: "Collected Stories" by Eudora Welty. Proves you can do remarkable things if you just stay home and do them.

A CLASSIC YOU REVISITED WITH DISAPPOINTMENT: "Ulysses" by James Joyce. Way too long, and unduly obscure. Should have stuck to short stories.