Tracy Kidder

Three works of genuine mastery.

From his early bestseller The Soul of a New Machine, a groundbreaking chronicle of the birth of the computer, Tracy Kidder has brought both broad cultural perspective and intense human interest to his studies of the rapidly changing contexts of modern life. His newest book, Strength in What Remains, traces one man’s journey from war-torn Burundi to the U.S., and back again, with characteristic concentration and compassion. What are his three favorite books?

Books by Tracy Kidder

The Thing Itself

By Richard Todd

“Wit is a word that a number of contemporary artists inaccurately apply to their own work. For an example of the real thing, I suggest The Thing Itself, a haunting and often very funny meditation on authenticity. The author, Richard Todd, taught me how to write a book, but I don’t think this fact has colored my admiration for the one that he has written. If anything, I ought to feel reluctant to praise it, since I wouldn’t want him to give up editing. “

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

By Ernest Hemingway

“At some point during my first year at college, I discovered Hemingway, and began ardently trying to imitate him. I don’t re-read his novels now, for fear of finding they have aged as gracelessly as I have. I do re-read his short stories, though, with pleasure and admiration, and also with nostalgia. Even today, I believe, aspiring writers could find much worse places to begin.”

Moby Dick

By Herman Melville

“My favorite novel, which resembles no other novel I’ve ever read. A very funny and haunting book. But, I believe, no one under forty ought to attempt it.”