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

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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  1,900 ratings  ·  157 reviews
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 in ...more
Paperback, 374 pages
Published October 11th 2006 by Mariner Books
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Tim
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 relev
...more
Carly
Dec 02, 2008 Carly rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: NO ONE
Shelves: 2008
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, th
...more
D'Anne
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 ...more
Sara
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 ...more
Michael Miller
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 Mecc
...more
Lora
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... ...more
Tiny Pants
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 ...more
Patty Marvel
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 ...more
Sarah
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
...more
Mike Pacheco
As with any anthology, this had its hits and misses. But overall I
liked it a lot. Be prepared to tackle a theme, though. There are a lot
of essays and stories about the Middle East in here.

I had originally picked this up because I've been circling the same
few authors lately and wanted to branch out. Sounds great, except I
picked a collection with at least three pieces I've already read. The
Kurt Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace and George Saunders essays in this
collection have appeared in other colle
...more
Katie
I buy my sister an edition of this anthology every Christmas - it's a great snapshot of the year. There's a wonderful variety of pieces here, which means that everyone will find something they love and something they feel "meh" about. I wasn't very impressed with any of the short stories in this edition, but some of the essays were phenomenal, particularly "Shipwreck," written by Cat Bohannon after she tours a warehouse where bodies are prepared for Body Worlds exhibits. Other gems were "Love It ...more
Patrick McCoy
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 ...more
Frank
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
...more
Lord Beardsley
Sep 07, 2007 Lord Beardsley rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone looking to diversify their reading subject matter
Shelves: read2007
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 o
...more
Jonathan Templeton
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. ...more
Stacy
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 h ...more
Mary Jo
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.
...more
Nicole
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 o
...more
Jess
Nov 30, 2009 Jess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
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 th
...more
Garrett Zecker
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 Mig
...more
Thing Two
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 favori
...more
Mary
Apr 25, 2008 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone who can read
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 ar ...more
Theresa
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"
...more
Susannah
I purchased this mostly to have a hard copy of David Foster Wallace's sublime commencement speech at Kenyon College, but was pleasantly surprised to find some really good stories. Any collection that includes George Saunders AND Kurt Vonnegut is all right by me.
Katie
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 k ...more
Tamra
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 als ...more
Daniel
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-so ...more
Petra
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"), i ...more
Laura
Dec 17, 2007 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
the names of great hoboes as well as

"But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear talked about much in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. That is b
...more
Joy
Oct 24, 2007 Joy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone looking for short stories
I read the 2002 issue of this series which was edited by renown YA literati, Michael Cart. I really enjoyed the 2002 issue. It even exposed me to a few new authors. I had forgotten about the series until I found myself desperate for something to read in the airport. It was a seredipitious moment to find that this series is still alive and well.

I would recommend "The Best American NonRequired Reading" to anyone who is looking for something a little offbeat or an opportunity to reaquaint yourself
...more
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Dave Eggers is the author of seven previous books, including his most recent, The Circle, a captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism that soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco th
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Best American Nonrequired Reading (1 - 10 of 14 books)
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