Read The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 by Dave Eggers Matt Groening Art Spiegelman Online


From Dave Eggers: For this year’s edition of The Best American Nonrequired Reading, we wanted to expand the scope of the book to include shorter pieces, and fragments of stories, and transcripts, screenplays, television scripts -- lots of things that we hadn’t included before. Our publisher readily agreed, and so you’ll see that this year’s edition is far more eclectic inFrom Dave Eggers: For this year’s edition of The Best American Nonrequired Reading, we wanted to expand the scope of the book to include shorter pieces, and fragments of stories, and transcripts, screenplays, television scripts -- lots of things that we hadn’t included before. Our publisher readily agreed, and so you’ll see that this year’s edition is far more eclectic in form than previous editions. Along the way to making the book, we also came across a variety of things that didn’t fit neatly anywhere, but which we felt should be included, so we conceived the front section, which is a loose Best American roundup of notable words and sentences from 2005. It is, like this book in general, obviously and completely incomplete, but might be interesting nevertheless....

Title : The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780618570515
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 374 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 Reviews

  • Tim
    2019-02-16 18:06

    As most of you already know, I’d rather pull off my own fingernails that endure anything Dave Eggers had a hand in creating. Obviously, the exception that proves the rule is the Best American Nonrequired Reading series. As the name would imply, the editors pulled from both fiction and non-fiction in an effort to piece together a collection of writing that represents the best of the pervious year. With each of the entries coming from the past year, it’s difficult to find anything that’s not relevant. While there are a few splashes of Eggers’ ego problem — namely the inclusion of such chapters as Best American New Band Names and Best American Things to Know about Chuck Norris — the majority of the book is an excellent collection. For example: Tom Downey’s The Insurgent’s Tale takes you behind the scenes of the Iraqi Jihad; Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea uses the graphic novel format to spotlight the author’s trip across the 38th parallel; and Judy Budnitz’s Nadia entertains with a fictional glimpse into the mail order bride business. If you’re looking for an anthology (or even a short story collection) give the Best American Nonrequired Reading series a try. It’s better than most and is 98% Eggers’ Ego Free.

  • Carly
    2019-01-23 11:46

    As I was reading the last few stories, I actually started to like them....but upon reading that a "one star" is "didn't like it" and "two stars" is "it was ok", I have no choice but to render a 1 star.This book was pathetic. The title: Best American Nonrequired Reading in 2006. If this is the BEST that can come out of any nonrequired reading, boy am I glad I had a LOT of required reading in 2006. Holy crap! I can't believe there are people out there, and then an editor and publishing company, that said, "YES! THESE STORIES ARE THE BEST!" Was 2006 a terrible year? Did NO ONE give good speeches or write stories with PLOTS? With the exception of--at most--4 stories, I found EVERYTHING in this book difficult and pointless to read. There were stories, where, after I read it, I thought to myself, what was the plot? What was the reason? And, being a person who prides themselves in being able to decipher difficult texts, I feel it is the fault of the authors, not me. The only thing that kept me going with this book was knowing that I couldn't write a review of how terrible it was if I didn't finish it.I am glad that I finished it, because they put two of the best stories in here, at the back. One was about a woman who read the Bible, and it lead to her disbelief in God (IRONY!). And another about a man who is so unhappy with his life, he finds a decapitated head and befriends it. With all this, if I had read the Introduction first (which I didn't, I read it around page 280 when I wasn't sure I could continue), I would have been even MORE angry. The introduction by Matt Groening was SPECTACULAR. But, had I read that and figured that it set a course for the rest of the book, I would ahve been SORELY mistaken, and more angered. As is, I can see why it was $1.00 at Half Price Books. With the exception of the Intro and a few stories, this isn't even worth considering as literature. Oh, and I didn't read the 25 pages of the Iraqi constitution. HELL NO.

  • D'Anne
    2019-01-22 13:11

    I'm not really sure why The Best American Nonrequired Reading series even exists. It seems to be a collection of short stories, comics and essays that didn't make it into their respective Best American collections (there is no poetry here). The 2006 edition of Nonrequired Reading is a very mixed bag - both in terms of content (which is good) and goodness (at least in terms of what really impressed me). There isn't a single short story in here that really blew me away - though I should say all of the fiction here started out strong but ended up fizzling, which was disappointing. There are few things in here that I feel are "must reads." Most of it I could have lived without. However, Julia Sweeney's essay about her relationship with God is wonderful - funny and thoughtful. Cat Bohannon's essay "Shipwreck" about the process by which a human corpse is turned into part of one of those Body Worlds exhibits is fascinating. In "The New Mecca" George Saunders takes you on a not-to-be-missed tour of modern day Dubai. Then there's a great little creative writing lesson by Kurt Vonnegut and a commencement address by David Foster Wallace. Read these pieces for sure. The rest, well, thankfully it's not required.

  • Sara
    2019-02-19 18:07

    Don't bother with carefully combing through Granta, McSweeney's, and those burdensomely weekly issues of the New Yorker -- this anthology will teach you everything you need to know about being a literary hipster until at least 2009. Despite a fabulous pairing of articles on Iraq, an immaculately written feature on post-Katrina New Orleans, and a nourishing Murakami short, the star in this constellation of post-ironic hipness involves what you need to know about Chuck Norris. That's the effect of this book. Much like the internets from which it culls its quirkiest fodder, the whole is oddly less than the sum of its parts.

  • Emily
    2019-02-20 15:52

    My favorite pieces from this collection: + Judy Budnitz - Nadia+ Guy Delisle - Pyongyang: A Journey In North Korea+ Gipi - The Innocents+ Miranda July - Me and You and Everyone We Know+ Rick Moody - Pirate Station+ Haruki Murakami - The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day+ David Rakoff - Love It Or Leave ItOf those that I've read so far, this edition of the Best American Nonrequired Reading series felt the most dated/of its time. I have to admit, I only skimmed the Iraqi Constitution.

  • Betsy Hagestedt
    2019-02-08 12:55

    Some stories in this collection are absolutely amazing, while others are definitely dated.

  • Stacy
    2019-01-29 11:06

    What more can I say about Dave Eggers. His work as a writer and an editor makes me so jealous, yet I can't help but gobble it all up. He's got an amazing ear for what works and his cottage industry of literary journals, magazines, DVDs and writing labs across the country, while perhaps not exactly mainstream, really do deserve the praise (and the book throwing jealousy) all of us in the literary community can heap his way. So, it's no big surprise that I admire the unique and bold qualities of his debut memoir/novel A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. And that I subscribe to the Believer Magazine, which (and this must be a constant bane to the writers trying to get interviews) has no religious affiliation whatsoever. And that I don't subscribe, but have bought my fair share of McSweeney's collections and Wholphin DVDs. I even have a poster. Okay. It's true. Not of Eggers himself, mind you, that would be creepy, like me keeping posters of Kirk Cameron from my high school days (not that I had posters of Kirk Cameron, which, now that I think about it, the way he's gone all Christian Right, really sort of creeps me out, although he's still kinda cute, but I digress). But I have a Believer poster that I got for resubscribing. And yes, it hangs over my work desk.Which is all nonsense in my recommendation to pick up a volume (any year) of The Best American Nonrequired Reading that Dave Eggers edits. There a bunch of these now in all different categories (mystery, sports writing, and the most recent addition: comics), but for my money, the nonrequired reading is the best. You get great short fiction, nonfiction and, specifically from this volume, an amazing transcript of Julia Sweeney's piece (based on her stage play) for (my favorite radio program in the universe) This American Life titled Letting Go of God as well as a commencement speech to Kenyon by David Foster Wallace that really blows the lid on all commencement speeches I've heard. Sorry, Treasure Secretary Rubin and music pioneer Quincy Jones, but Wallace has got you beat. All that and an introduction my Matt Groening. You can't miss.

  • Patty Marvel
    2019-02-16 15:16

    I love "The Best American..." series for the same reason I love "various artists" CDs - I get a sampling of this and that with the occasional, previously overlooked gem in the bunch. I'm especially fond of the "Nonrequired" reading because it mixes genres. Imagine "The Best American Short Stories" is a theme CD, such as a movie soundtrack, with tracks by different musicians but from the same field of music, while the "Nonrequired" is more of a mish-mash, like those "Certain Damage" CDs that CMJ put out in the mid- to late-1980s - there would be a hip-hop song followed by a country song followed by a metal song followed by God only knows what to call it. The 2006 "Nonrequired" includes a script from a "Daily Show" skit, some short graphic novels (including one chronicling the lives of two Iraqis subjected to torture), Julia Sweeney's "Letting Go of God?," a series of blog entries called "A Soldier's Thoughts,"* John Hodgman's list of 700 hobo names (yes, I actually read them all and I have thirty favorites), a group effort by scientists and philosophers called "What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Cannot Prove It?" and - I kid you not - the Iraqi constitution as it was printed in the Washington Post.I haven't gotten to that last one yet - actually, I haven't really finished this edition because I use it as my "emergency reading,"# - but I wanted to stop and strongly recommend this book for the reader who likes to be surprised with a little something they would not have sought out otherwise.*I wonder when we'll see a series called "The Best American Blogs."#By "emergency reading," I mean that book, usually a collection of short stories rather than a novel, that you keep in your car or your purse for those moments when you need reading material, such as when you're eating lunch along and don't feel like gazing out the window or you're going to be sitting in a doctor's waiting room for a while and you'd rather not bother with the three month old copy of "Newsweek." It's sort of like having "emergency money" or "emergency underwear."

  • Lord Beardsley
    2019-02-21 12:08

    This was one of the better Non-Required Reading Comps over the years. Although, I think I say that about all of them. Of course there were particular essays I wasn't crazy about, but those were the minority and I only skipped over one because I started falling asleep as I was reading it (Iraqi constitution...I sound ignorant saying this...but I think reading the United States Constitution has the same effect on me). I was also at work at the time...Overall, this was fantastic. I'd recomend all of the previous volumes as well because they're simply fantastic. It's like reading This American problems there.Highlights were the David Rakoff, Michael Lewis, Murakami, and comic strip about North Korea as well as the Julia Sweeney article Letting Go Of God (her essay about finding her inherent atheism) which was she usually is. Many of the topics dealt with Iraq and the war and were fascinating and heart-breaking. It was nice to see so much devoted to that and I think the kids who edited this really did a huge service in chosing to focus on that. Also, may I add that this is really edited by a bunch of high school kids who are people who give me hope for mankind?! Well, yes, they are. The editors of this anthology are the antithesis of that My Sweet Sixteen show on MTV. They're also way smarter than most "grown-ups". Not everything was focused on topical issues involving Iraq, there was an entire selection devoted to fake headlines, blog entries, Daily Show moments, words and phrases, as well as an utterly hilarious treastise on Hoboes. This also includes an essay by the late, great Kurt Vonnegut which he ends by saying: "And if I die-God forbid-I would like to go to heaven to ask somebody in charge up there, "Hey, what was the good news and what was the bad news?'Go read this.

  • Mary Jo
    2019-02-15 11:57

    Although it redeemed itself in the end, I found this to be the least impressive of the 'nonrequired reading' anthologies. First, it starts with @ 50 pages of 'best american' things. Things such as best american epigraph whereina contemporary writer quotes a great writer who died in 2005 & best american things to know about hoboes. The last entry (hoboes) inlcudes 700 hobo names. It is not actually funny or interesting. The entries are organized in alphabetical order by the authors last name. Although I appreciate the simplicity, it doesn't really work in this instance. There is absolutely no flow. Of the first six entries, two are graphic art pieces (cartoons) and one if the Iraqi Constitution - all 30+ pages of it. I liked Me and You and Everyone We Know, a play or movie about a single father. I also liked Wading Toward Home which is about New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. The next few are non-rememberable. Then I get to one by Haruki Murakami, The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day. Similar to his novels in structure and plot but better, you can't get lost in a 15 page story. The next four are unremarkable - another graphic piece, more about Iraq. Boring. I liked Julia Sweeney's Letting Go of God? about her move to atheism and Kurt Vonnegut's Here is a Lesson in Creative Writing. I always like Vonnegut's graphics. The collection ends with David Foster Wallace's Kenypn Commencement Speech. Although I liked some of what he had to see, the main gist I guess, I was not impressed with his style at all. I really need to find some fiction of his to read because I have read two essays now and haven't liked either. It is interesting that he mentions suicide twice (in a commencement speech!), interesting and sad.

  • Patrick McCoy
    2019-02-07 18:12

    I recently picked up the most recent edition of The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006, and as usual it has some great pieces. This year’s introduction was written by Matt Groening. This year they have added some lists to the volume the one that worked for me include include: Best American Headlines" (from The Onion); "Best American Daily Show Exchange on the Anniversary of Watergate" (from Jon Stewart discussion with Stephen Colbert); "Best American First Sentences of Novels of 2005"; “Best New American Band Names”; "Best American New Words and Phrases." The ones that didn’t work for me are: “Best American Things To Know About Chuck Norris” and “Best American Things To Know About Hobos”-at best sophomoric in-jokes among the high school staff. I’ve previously read two of the pieces before and enjoyed them: Haruki Murakami’s excellent short story, “The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves every Day”, that appeared in The New Yorker, and “The New Mecca”, a story about the wonders of Dubai, by George Saunders that originally appeared in GQ. My favorite story, about an American studying Russian in Moscow who stumbles upon a suicide bomber, was “False Cognate” by Jeff Parker. I also enjoyed journalistic pieces by Michael Lewis, “Wading Toward Home”-about returning to his childhood home of New Orleans after Katrina, and Tom Downey’s “The Insurgent’s Tale, about a former Jihad fighter. I was inspired by a section of the script from Me, You, and Everyone We Know to watch the film (I’ll post about it later). As usual there were several other interesting pieces including comics. No big revelations, but some interesting material nonetheless.

  • Mike Pacheco
    2019-01-31 14:46

    As with any anthology, this had its hits and misses. But overall Iliked it a lot. Be prepared to tackle a theme, though. There are a lotof essays and stories about the Middle East in here.I had originally picked this up because I've been circling the samefew authors lately and wanted to branch out. Sounds great, except Ipicked a collection with at least three pieces I've already read. TheKurt Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace and George Saunders essays in thiscollection have appeared in other collections of those writers' works. They were very, very good and I highly recommend them in this collection or in their own. But it was interesting to read them again as isolated essays. When I read a collection of one author, the stories tend to blend together. And with someone like DFW, it's easy to fall into a fugue and lose track of the individual sentiments. Anyway, here are some of the standouts.The surprise hit for me was Sam Shaw's short story "Peg." There was aclear "What?!" moment where things took a turn for the surreal. Ithought it was very funny and bizarre, and the underlying relationshipstory had a neat way of coming back at the end. This is exactly thetype of find I was hoping to stumble upon reading a collection likethis.I also like the Julia Sweeney piece "Letting Go of God?" It was athoughtful look at her crisis of faith and eventual separation fromCatholicism. It didn't have the I'm-right-you're-wrong feeling that turns up in a lot of religious themed writing.

  • Frank
    2019-02-09 17:58

    I like anthologies...and these "nonrequired" ones particularly. The star of this volume for me is the Joe Sacco illustrated piece, although the other two "comics" were very good as well, primarily because I was thrilled at its existence (I have read all his large volumes of work, I think).John Hodgman's comedic piece on Hobos was another, impressive in it's ability to make 3 pages of made-up Hobo names entertaining and worth reading. I couldn't muster up the energy to read the Iraqi constitution I'm afraid. The Rolling Stone interview with a multi-time Jihadi was quite intriguing though. It ended with it's big guns. Kurt Vonnegut's piece on creative writing was enjoyable, but his entreaties to dance and sing, etc. seem a little hollower after having read a 400 page book on what a miserable bastard he generally was. Likewise is David Foster Wallace's "Kenyon Commencement Speech" in which he says a liberal arts education is good for keeping ourselves from blowing our heads off, a few years before he blew his head off. Not that he doesn't write and argue well, and not that his SEVERE depression might not have been kept a little in check by it, but the kindness and understanding he is really espousing never seemed to me to be a major thrust of any of my secular education, liberal or otherwise.

  • Tiny Pants
    2019-02-16 14:47

    The 2006 edition took me about seven months to complete. Why the delay? I had to skip some pieces, because they were too gross -- particularly the first one, which is a short story from the p.o.v. of someone working on one of those stupid Bodies exhibitions which I can't seem to avoid no matter what I do. Ew! In addition to all the gross-out pieces, nearly half appear to be about the war. Now, I understand that it's timely and all, but seriously Eggers, the Iraqi constitution!?! Not what people read this for.Why do I continue to read this series, since I complain about it every year? (And have 2007 sitting on my shelf awaiting reading?) Not sure. The first one, when Eggers was still "guest editor," was GREAT. From front to back, it was fantastic. Then they let him be series editor, and it all went to hell, especially in '04-'05, when he let all his high school reading group kids pick the pieces, and let's just say they all of course like things high school-aged kids would be into (and generally not in a good way). At this point, it has turned into one of those things where I own every one of these, and feel strangely compelled to just keep adding to the collection, even if at this point my enjoyment in reading them is dangerously low.

  • Jesse
    2019-01-22 11:08

    3.5 stars, actually.I'm a fan of the Nonrequired Reading series and how the volumes are compiled. Were I a teacher, I'd swipe the idea for my class: encourage students to read and select pieces that speak to them, and then share the best writing with their peers in a book that reflects not only a year in reading, but a year in their lives.As these volumes are compiled by students, they tend to follow a pattern: there's a piece about the war written by a soldier, an article about what the war is like from the "enemy's" perspective, a story about a mail-order bride, and a commencement speech. You can spot themes across years, but the students, on the whole, pick fascinating pieces for the anthology each year, and 2006 is no exception.There is the filler: a overly long list of new band names, page after page of first lines of novels published in 2005, a list of headlines from The Onion, and the Iraqi constitution. Yes, it is a historic document, but did the students actually read the entire Iraqi constitution or simply pick it for its "importance" to our time? I read the first 2 pages and moved on.Separate the wheat from the chaff and it's another solid installment of Nonrequired Reading.2005 still ranks as my favorite year for the series.

  • Sarah
    2019-01-30 19:04

    This is a fantastic collection of writings from 2006. Edited by Dave Eggers, and introduced by Matt Groening, it brings together a quirky bunch of essays, short stories, graphic stories, constitutions, lists, and magazine pieces into a cohesive whole. Reading it now, in 2013, it startles me with its tone. Remember when Bush was president? Remember when we were enmeshed in a never-ending war in Iraq, and it seemed as if our government had taken the reins only to drive us all into through gates of hell? Some of the stories bring these memories back. Not that it was that long ago, but really, it's so easy to forget how crazy 2006 really was. Not all of the stories have to do with Iraq, but there are a few wonderful pieces on it, including the Iraqi Constitution, which is a beautiful, idealistic dream of a lawful, peaceful society.Other pieces are non-war related, like Julia Sweeney's piece on losing God, or Vonnegut's essay on writing a good story. I really enjoyed the GQ story on Dubai. Interesting to contrast it with Dubai today, where the bubble has somewhat popped. And of course, there's a fabulous list of Hobo names by John Hodgman. No collection would be complete without that!

  • Natasha
    2019-02-20 17:50

    This was really a mixed bag. Most of these stories I have to admit seemed to meander along and have no real point, or maybe a forced point. There were a few gems, though: the Best American Excerpt from a Military Blog, Michael Lewis's Wading Toward Home, Julia Sweeney's Letting Go of God?, and David Foster Wallace's Keyon Commencement Speech.Miranda July's script was good but I felt the way they did the excerpt really could have been done better. Vonnegut is always an A in my gradebook, but I read that story years ago so I was sad it wasn't something new to discover (but this is the 2006 collection so what did I expect?) Judy Budnitz, Tom Dowey, Rick Moody, Haruki Murakami, Joe Sacco, and Sam Shaw's stories get Honourable Mentions from me. And Matt Groening's intro was great.All in all, it was alright. At first I gave this 2 stars because "it was okay" seems to be an apt description, but upon going through and noting the ones that I enjoyed, I think 2 stars would dismiss the effect a few of my favourite stories had on me. So 3 stars it is.This is my second Best American collection, and I think I gave both of them 3 stars. I probably won't be going out of my way to read more, but if one were to fall in my hands again, I'd probably go ahead and give it another shot.

  • Jonathan Templeton
    2019-02-03 18:46

    I stumbled upon these collections a few years ago, and loved them. They are edit by Dave Eggers - not my favorite author - and constit of short storiees, magazine articles, blog entries, and a myriad of other not so accesable sources collected by high school students at 826 Valencia (If you knwo Eggers, you know what this is). I normally love almost everything in them, and savour the variety, but ths year - 2006 - left me very dissapointed. It was mostly political essays, and mostly about Iraq. I understand that this is an important topic, but it was way too much for me. I get enough of this in the regular media, and don't want my "nonrequired" reading to hit me over the head with it either. There was one facinating essay entitled "Letting Go of God" by Julia Sweeny which I found facinating, otehr than that - bluck. I do reccomend any of the previous years, though - I believe if began in 2004. Those were fresh and well rounded, before Eggers ego and personal politics overpowered - well Eggers ego always overpowers :)

  • Jess
    2019-02-07 11:08

    I was surprised at how intriguing and captivating this anthology was. I recently finished my first Dave Eggers' book, Zeitoun, a few weeks ago; I found it eye-opening and provocative for its message but also for its bias.This anthology certainly reflects the time period; in 2006, there was quite a bit of media attention surrounding national security measures, perceptions of Arabs/Muslims/the Middle East, and a great deal of consternation about belief and religion. I think this volume captured the political and social issues of 2006 while also presenting them in a variety of formats, including essays, short stories, and snippets from graphic novels.I was delighted to see more of Joe Sacco's work in here, and I discovered David Rakoff to be as funny and entertaining as David Sedaris. Along with a few others, I will be looking into more of these authors' works. This volume was a great introduction to some new authors and artists—just what I needed!

  • Nicole
    2019-01-29 12:58

    I generally like the series, but I felt this was the weakest collection so far. It had the most thematic continuity, and I think the quality of the works included suffered as a result.It's cool that they are including more media, but come on...the screenwriting selection was "Me, You, and Everyone We Know"? Was it included in spite of or because of the fact that most of the readers had probably already seen and discussed the movie at length? How about something a little more off the radar?Some of the stories were cheesily sentimental, others tedious and predictable in a different way.The Katrina essay was excellent, and I really liked the unabashed gushing about Dubai in "The New Mecca." The "Lesson in Creative Writing" was pleasant though a little self-aware, especially considering its precious placement at the "almost end" of the book. All in all, I'd say it's a good read, but if you've never read any other "Nonrequireds," start someplace else.

  • Michael Miller
    2019-02-20 17:10

    Eclectic and uneven. Some of the pieces (it includes essays and short stories) were riveting, some funny, some downright tedious. I highly recommend the excerpts from Zachary Scott-Singley's military blog, the best things to know about hoboes (a farcical tale of the Great Depression), Michael Lewis' Wading Toward Home (life in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina), Are Iraqis Optimistic (a painfully naive fake news story the US tried to plant in Iraqi newspapers), George Sanders' The New Mecca (Dubai), and Kurt Vonnegut's Lesson in Creative Writing.On the other hand, I couldn't make it through the Iraqi Constitution (yes the entire mind-numbing text of their new constitution). And Naguib Mahfouz's Room No. 12 proved to me why I don't usually read fiction, especially short stories.

  • Mary
    2019-02-16 13:58

    I found 2 essays to be BRILLIANT and the rest were fantastic. One brilliant essay was about women in politics & written by Simon Baron-Cohen. Question asked by the Edge Foundation was "What is your dangerous idea" and he proposed that politicians legislate and act with EMPATHY rather than COMBAT. Then he put the pieces together to say that men generally react with combat (we're mostly talking figuratively, here) and women with empathy. The world has been run by men and therefore decisions are made from a combative point of view, hence the wars and other big messes. We're a LOOOONG way off from having leaders make decisions based on empathy, but man (no pun intended), wouldn't that be NICE?The other brilliant essay was about Barry Bonds and super tomatoes.

  • Garrett Zecker
    2019-01-26 12:16

    As always a wonderful compendium of great writing that gets absolutely no recognition. I will probably post notes of the texts that I enjoyed the most, but notably: Bohannon's "Shipwreck," Budnitz's "Nadia," Delisle's "Pyongyang...," Vonnegut's "Here is a lesson in Creative Writing," and Wallace's "Kenyon Commencement Speech." Go out and read these books. Dave Eggers is a genius at everything, but most notably his ability to create an editorial team (probably his throwback to McSweeney's and Might?) that is amazing at what they do - compiling works that will change your life and your outlook on the ordinary works in print and make them shine by arranging them in such a way that you can't put down any of the articles, let alone the entire collection.

  • Thing Two
    2019-01-24 12:13

    The Best American Nonrequired Reading is a yearly anthology of fiction and nonfiction selected by high school students in California and Michigan. The volume is edited by Dave Eggers.The collection for 2006 includes lists like "The Best American Fake Headlines" from The Onion, and "The Best New Words and Phrases". It includes the proposed Iraqi constitution, and a blog from a soldier stationed there. And, it includes a collection of short stories from well-known writers, and newcomers. My favorite short story in this collection, "The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day" by Haruki Marukami can be found online, now.('m looking to pick up a copy of the 2010 collection, next. Great read!

  • Theresa
    2019-02-17 16:03

    I've always liked the "Non-Required Reading" collections. For me, they serve as sort of a yearbook for the independent reader. This is a pretty great sampling of what people were thinking about at the time. There are things here that I read when they were originally published, and others that I had missed and was pleased to discover.Of course, not everything in the collection is amazing. There were a few things that I didn't love, and I found the beginning section ("Best American New Band Names" "Best American Facts About Chuck Norris" etc) to be a little ridiculous and not very indicative of what 2006 brought to the reading world. But come on. Where else can you find the entire Iraqi Constitution AND magic realism short fiction?

  • Tamra
    2019-01-29 19:09

    As usual with this annual anthology (ahhh, alliteration!!) there's a mixed bag - something to enjoy and something to make me scratch my head and wonder why it was chosen. The good: Matt Groening's introduction, the excerpt from Pyongyang (a terrific graphic novel from a French Canadian cartoonist who spent time working in that city), essays about Hurricane Katrina and Dubai, a very moving look at the blog of a soldier in Iraq, and speeches from Kurt Vonnegut and David Foster Wallace. There's also a generous sprinkling of humor, and some short stories (which, I confess, were not my favorites) along with things like the Iraqi Constitution and some scenes from a movie script.

  • Daniel
    2019-02-12 16:49

    The Katrina essay is the high point of this collection. It's an account of New Orleanian manners, eccentricity, and neighborhood life. The way the crazy locals, the old classmates, and the regular guys come together after the storm resembles a bizarre family reunion...And as the author would have you believe, that's the been the way of all New Orleans for a long time. The descriptions of one neighborhood's experience adds a layer to the Katrina story that didn't make the Fox News scrollbar-of-sordidness.Tied for second are the Iraqi Constitution and the hobo story, two fenceposts of rewritten history.Pyongyang is also pretty cool.

  • Cat.
    2019-02-12 14:03

    What a lovely, disparate collection of writing. Some of it isn't exactly well-written, but every part was thought-provoking and fun to read, even the horrific parts about what was going on in Iraq 8 years ago. I especially liked Kurt Vonnegut's essay on writing: "First Rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college." Guilty as charged, Kurt. David Foster Wallace's commencement speech was nicely done...and VERY CREEPY in light of subsequent events. Just a really fun collection that celebrates writing. I'm sold on this series.

  • Katie
    2019-01-29 19:01

    Worth reading if only for two brilliant, hilarious essays: the intro by Matt Groening (creator of the Simpsons) and "Here Is a Lesson in Creative Writing" by the late Kurt Vonnegut. A favorite passage from the latter: "FIRST RULE: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college. And I realize that some of you may be having trouble deciding whether I am kidding or not. So from now on I will tell you when I'm kidding. For instance, join the National Guard or the Marines and teach democracy. I'm kidding." Much thanks to my friend Laura for giving me this book to pass the time in hospital waiting rooms.

  • Petra
    2019-02-17 18:59

    This was a fun one. fast reading. skipped over some stories (though I don't think many- maybe one or two), but some were fantastic. The George Saunders piece on Dubai is amazing. There were some bullshitty Dave Eggers bits- like list of hobo names that is 700 names and 9 pages long, and a list of "Best American New Band Names". The short stores that Eggers chooses to include are great, but when he feels the need to edit all words in the English language ("Best American New Works and Phrases"), its less than great. Somebody should teach Eggers a new trick.