Spring Classes Start—Reading Ahead!

Friends and readers have often been interested in what I’m teaching in my classes at George Mason University—and specifically the texts I’ve selected for my lit classes. Frequently, I’ve found myself crowd-sourcing possibilities for these classes—putting out my course subjects/themes on Facebook and inviting suggestions, broadening my own reading choices/horizons in the process!

Since some folks have asked, here are the texts from my three classes this semester.


(and incidentally, our first class discussion was about defining “recent” and “American”)

  • Best American Short Stories 2016, edited Junot Diaz (2016)
  • Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz (2007)
  • American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang (2006)
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan (2010)
  • Zone One, Colson Whitehead (2010)
  • Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn (2012)
  • Fates & Furies, Lauren Groff (2015)
  • Underground Airlines, Ben H. Winters (2016)
  • The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (2016)


(main texts; many other selections, including Tom Wolfe, Joseph Mitchell, and short bits from The New Yorker‘s “Talk of the Town” section, for example)

  • Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction, Lee Gutkind, editor
  • Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction, Lex Williford and Michael Martone, editors


In this case, there’s too much to list—much of it reviews and essays I’ve linked to online—so instead of trying to hit highpoints here, here’s a link to a website I set up specifically for the course, including the full syllabus.

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