Living up to its name, The Best American Nonrequired Reading is greatly satisfying

Started in 1915, the Best American series is a showcase for fiction and nonfiction. In each volume the best pieces of fiction and nonfiction are selected by an editor who is considered one of the best in his or her field. For 2004 David Eggers has chosen some of the best contemporary fiction, nonfiction and even comics for the series. Taken from a wide variety of publications such as the Atlantic Monthly, Bomb, the New York Times and even GQ, the collection of works appeals to every reader.

The collection for the latest edition includes a hilarious introduction by Viggo Mortensen who is a known film actor and published artist/poet. In part of the introduction Mortensen acknowledges that, “we are free to read or not read.” Although he makes some rather humorous suggestions about how to go about reading this book, it should be read.

Featuring some of the best authors, highlight pieces include David Sedaris’ “Full House” taken from Esquire and Robert Kelly’s “How They Took My Body Apart and Made Another Me.” Ranging from comical stories to even a ten page comic about a sailor, entitled “Poor Sailor,” by John Haskell, the Best American series is one not to be missed.

If you’ve ever been bored with a full length novel, try short stories. They will re-excite you about reading.

Joanna Davila can be contacted at