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The Best American Nonrequired Reading Series

Updated on January 28, 2015

The Yearly "Best American" Series -- The Lighter Side

The Best American Nonrequired Reading series is published each year so the official name of these books go something like this: The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011 or The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003. You get the idea.

These compilations bring together fiction from periodicals and magazines that are often overlooked in our "read it now online" world.

These stories are geared toward a younger crowd (15 to 25 year olds), but I'm old and I love them. That may have to do with Dave Eggers, who is the editor of this series. He's a pretty funny writer who knows funny when it jumps off the page at him.

Photo Credit: The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011 (Best American R)

Dave Eggers Edits The Best American Nonrequired Reading Series

Dave Eggers founded the high school writing lab 826 Valencia first in San Francisco for high school students.

These same students choose the selections for The Best American Nonrequired Reading series.

Where do they look for material? Literary magazines, online articles and blogs, and independent publications.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 - Michael Cart, Editor and Dave Eggers, Consultant Editor

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 (The Best American Series)
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 (The Best American Series)

This is the first book in the series of best American nonrequired reading. Here are a few of the authors who were selected for inclusion in this book: a comic strip "Bomb Scare" by Adrian Tomine; "My Fake Job" by Rodney Rothman; Sara Corbett's "The Lost Boys"; and "Higher Education" by Gary Smith.

 

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 - Dave Eggers, Editor and Zadie Smith, Editor

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 (The Best American Series)
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 (The Best American Series)

I've just started reading The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 book. It is great! I've particularly liked Lynda Barry's entry titled "Common Scents."

If you're not familar with her, Barry writes and draws big crude comics and she is so funny. I was lying in bed the other night cackling at her take on how her friend and neighbors' houses smell. Oh my gosh.

 

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004 - Dave Eggers, Editor and Viggo Mortenson, Introduction

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004 (The Best American Series)
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004 (The Best American Series)

Contributors to the third in the Best American Nonrequired Reading series include MIchelle Tea, David Sedaris, David Mamet, and Christopher Buckley. Viggo Mortensen wrote an introduction about losing a backpack full of notes and screenplays.

 

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005 - Dave Eggers, Editor and Beck wrote the Introduction

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005

Contributors include Daniel Alarc´┐Żn, Aimee Bender, Daniel Clowes, Tish Durkin, Al Franken, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anders Nilsen, and Georges Saunders.

 

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 - Dave Eggers, Editor and Matt Groening, Introduction

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 (The Best American Series)
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 (The Best American Series)

In 2006 the book featured sections, including Best American Headlines; Best American Answers to the Question "What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Cannot Prove It?"; Best American First Sentences of Novels of 2005; and Best American New Words and Phrases.

Contributors include George Saunders, Julia Sweeney, Kurt Vonnegut, and Judy Bunitz.

 

Take a Reading Break

For a quick break in your busy day, choose a

story from any of these Best American

Nonrequired Reading books. You'll be glad you did.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007 - Dave Eggers, Editor and Sufjan Stevens wrote the Introduction

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007

Contributors to the 2007 edition include Stephen Elliott who wrote of being a homeless 13-year-old in 'Where I Slept'; Lee Klein wrote in 'All Aboard the Bloated Boat,' where he compares Barry Bonds to Jimi Hendrix; and Conan O'Brien's Stuyvesant High School Commencement Speech.

 

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008 - Dave Eggers, Editor with an Introduction by Judy Blume

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008

This year's book includes the following writers: Stephen King, Laura Van Den Berg, George Saunders, Emily Raboteau, Raffi Khatchadourian, and more.

 

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009 - Dave Eggers, Editor and Marjane Satrapi, Guest Editor

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009

Jonathan Franzen wrote a tribute to the late David Foster Wallace. Sections of note: best kids' letter to Obama, best craigslist ads, and best police blotter items.

Contributors include Rivka Galchen, Denis Johnson, Nick Flynn, Eula Biss, and Susan Breen.

 

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010 - Dave Eggers, Editor with Introduction by David Sedaris

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010 (The Best American Series (R))
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010 (The Best American Series (R))

This volume includes blog entries, comics, magazine articles, and of course short fiction. Some contributions include George Saunders' "Tent City, USA" and Elizabeth Gonzalez's "Half Beat."

 

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011 - Dave Eggers, Editor

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011

The latest book features Daniel Alarcon, Clare Beams, Sloane Crosley, Anthony Doerr, Neil Gaiman, Mohammed Hanif, Mac McClelland, Michael Paterniti, Olivier Schrauwen, Gary Shteyngart, and more writers who represent the best short fiction and nonfiction written in 2010.

 

Dave Eggers - Editor of the Series, Writer

Dave Eggers wrote his wildly popular fictionalized memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, about his parents dying within 5 weeks of each other when he was 21 and in college. It chronicles his subsequent rearing of his 8-year-old brother while working and trying to be a "normal" 20-something year old.

Have You Read Any of Dave Eggers' Books?

Have You Read Any of Dave Eggers' Books?

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Affiliate Disclosure

This author, Peggy Hazelwood, participates in Amazon, eBay, All Posters, and other affiliate advertising programs. When you click an advertising link on this page and make a purchase, I receive a small percent of the sale. Thank you for reading this far!

Have you read any of The Best American Nonrequired Reading books? - If so, which one's your favorite?

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    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 5 years ago

      These look good for a short, casual read! Sadly, I've never read any of them. :-(