Good Minds Suggest—Geoff Dyer's Favorite Books About Obsessions

February, 2012

Geoff Dyer English author and journalist Geoff Dyer tells Goodreads, "It is difficult to imagine how anyone could write a book about something he or she was not obsessed by." His own freewheeling obsessions are reflected in a diverse body of work. Dyer idolizes D.H. Lawrence in Out of Sheer Rage, riffs on the lives of jazz musicians in But Beautiful, and meditates on art and oblivion in Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. Although singular in his subjects, Dyer is expansive in style, employing fiction, memoir, travel writing, literary criticism, and other techniques—often at the same time. His new book, Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room, chronicles his decades-long idée fixe: watching and analyzing Andrei Tarkovsky's influential science fiction film, Stalker. Dyer admits that some writers "are more obviously obsessive than others," and now you can feed your own compulsions with his top picks by his fellow possessed.

U and I by Nicholson Baker
"The paradigmatic book by the paradigmatic obsessive, this is the true story of Baker's entirely justified adoration of John Updike. Recent author portraits serve as an effective health warning about the dangers of giving free rein to your obsessions."


The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem
"Whereas Baker strikes one as a serial monogamist in the realm of obsession, Lethem manages to keep a whole bunch of them going all the time. This new collection of essays is like a catalog of his multifarious hobbyhorses at full gallop."


Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West
"Even West was baffled as to why she had been moved 'in 1936 to devote five years of my life, at great financial sacrifice and to the utter exhaustion of my mind and body, to take an inventory of a country down to its last vest-button, in a form insane from any ordinary artistic or commercial point of view.' The country was the then-Yugoslavia; the inventory clocks in at over a thousand consistently brilliant pages."


Old Masters by Thomas Bernhard
"Starts off a study of someone studying Tintoretto's Portrait of a White-Bearded Man in a museum in Vienna. Becomes—as usual in Bernhard—an expedition through the dank and airless tunnels of obsession and compulsion themselves."


Middlemarch by George Eliot
"Obviously it's about a lot of other things as well, but the portrait of Casaubon and his attempts to discover The Key to All Mythologies serves as a casebook study and parable of the life-denying perils of frustrated obsession."



8 likes · like


Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Imajica, by Clive Barker


message 2: by Peterv (new)

Peterv The Golden Egg/The Vanishing by Tim Krabbe


message 3: by Hnmestel (new)

Hnmestel Bibliomania by Nicholas Basbanes - of course!


message 4: by Tim (new)

Tim Colwell Pale Fire, Nabokov.


message 5: by Ai-lin (new)

Ai-lin Tan Endless Love, Scott Spencer


message 6: by Tia (new)

Tia Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov.


back to top

Good Minds Suggest
Goodreads Voice