An Aspen Winter Words Reading List for 2020-21
Aspen Words is taking its annual Winter Words author series virtual this season, in accordance with public health advisories. And while the novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our lives and Aspen’s in-person cultural events calendar, the tradition of pre-season reading and literary discovery is alive and well.
If you want to cram, build a personal syllabus, pitch your book club or rope a friend into reading with you, these are the titles to tackle for Winter Words 2020-21.
ISABEL WILKERSON & ELIZABETH ALEXANDER
The one they’re talking about: Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” among the most acclaimed nonfiction books of the year and a centerpiece of the national conversation.
Extra credit: Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns,” her Pulitzer Prize-winning 2010 chronicle of the Great Migration.
A deeper dive: Alexander’s memoir 2015 “The Light of the World” is among the great works about grief.
CURTIS SITTENFELD & CHARLOTTE CLYMER
The one they’re talking about: Sittenfeld’s novel “Rodham,” an imagining of Hillary Clinton’s life if she hadn’t married Bill.
Extra credit: “Prep,” Sittenfeld’s breakout debut, about life at an elite prep school.
A deeper dive: “You Think It, I’ll Say It,” Sittenfeld’s 2018 collection of short stories, which includes one of the best works of fiction about social media (“The Prairie Wife”).
AYAD AKHTAR & RON CHARLES
The one they’re talking about: Akhtar’s novel “Homeland Elegies” about an immigrant family in Trump era America.
Extra credit: “American Dervish,” Akhtar’s blockbuster debut about a Pakistani-American boy a coming of age in the Midwest.
A deeper dive: Watch the Akhtar-scripted film “The War Within” and Ron Charles’ unhinged, silly and yet informative Internet videos about books at totallyhipvideobookreview.com
BILLY COLLINS & PÁDRAIG Ó TUAMA
The one they’re talking about: Collins’ latest poetry collection “Whale Day,” published in September.
Extra credit: Collins’ “Sailing Alone Around the Room,” the definitive collection from 2001 by the two-time U.S. Poet Laureate.
A deeper dive: “Everyday moments, caught in time,” a TEDTalk in which Collins introduces short animated films based on his poems.
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