Novels That Feature a Character’s Diary or Journal

In Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl, Amy creates a fake diary to cast suspicion about her disappearance on her husband. Although Amy’s diary is only one piece in this novel’s central puzzle, some other works of fiction feature a diary format as their primary structure.

writingHere are some fictional works that incorporate a character’s diary or journal. Please suggest additions to this list in the comments.


  • One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
  • No! I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club by Virginia Ironside
  • The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  • The Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol
  • A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  • Rustication by Charles Palliser
  • The Diaries of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (and sequels) by Jeff Kinney

Phil Klay wins National Book Award for fiction

Phil Klay’s “Redeployment,” a debut collection of searching, satiric and often agonized stories by an Iraq war veteran, has won the National Book Award for fiction.

Klay was chosen Wednesday night over such high-profile finalists as Marilynne Robinson’s “Lila” and Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven.” His book was the first debut release to win in fiction since Julia Glass’ “The Three Junes” in 2002, the first story collection to win since Andrea Barrett’s “Ship Fever” in 1996 and the first fiction win for an Iraq veteran.

via Phil Klay wins National Book Award for fiction | Entertainment | The Seattle Times.

This article also includes news of the other National Book Awards. Best Books of 2014

2014 Best Books of the Year: The Top 100 in Print Format

via Best Books of 2014.

Yes, the Best Books of 2014 lists are beginning already.

The link here features Everything I Never Told You: A Novel by Celeste Ng as top book of the year.

If you click around this page a bit, you’ll find Amazon’s other lists (e.g., best cookbooks, best mysteries & thrillers).

The Classics Club

“Parnassus on Wheels”

Morley, Christopher.  Parnassus on Wheels (1917)

Christopher Morley (May 5, 1890 – March 28, 1957) was an American essayist, poet, novelist, playwright, and journalist. His first published work, Parnassus on Wheels, features Helen McGill, a 39-year-old woman who buys a horse-drawn wagon equipped as a traveling bookstore, and the people to whom she peddles her wares.

There’s not really much to review here, but the book celebrates the pleasures and benefits of reading. Here are some of the best quotations from the text:

“Lord!” he said, “when you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humor and ships at sea by night—there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean.

I think reading a good book makes one modest. Whey you see the marvelous insight into human nature which truly great book shows, it is bound to make you feel small—like looking at the Dipper on a clear night, or seeing the winter sunrise when you go out to collect the morning eggs.

A good book ought to have something simple about it. And, like Eve, it ought to come from somewhere near the third rib: there ought to be a heart beating in it. A story that’s all forehead doesn’t amount to much.

The Classics Club

Classics Club Spin #8

This will be my first time participating in the Classics Club Spin.

Here are the directions for spin #8:

At your blog, by next Monday, November 10, list your choice of any twenty books you’ve left to read from your Classics Club list – in a separate post.

This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books in November & December. (Details follow.) So, try to challenge yourself. For example, you could list five Classics Club books you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favorite author, rereads, ancients — whatever you choose.)

Next Monday, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by January 5, 2015.

I can’t see setting myself up for failure by including here any of my list’s huge books like Atlas Shrugged, The Golden Notebook, or Ulysses. I know I need to save those until I have a large chunk of time to devote to doing them right, and I will not have that kind of time between now and January 5.

So here is my list for the spin:

  1. Adams, Richard. Watership Down
  2. Masters, Edgar Lee. Spoon River Anthology (1915)
  3. Agee, James. A Death in the Family
  4. Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men
  5. Cather, Willa. O Pioneers!
  6. Smith, Dodie. I Capture the Castle (1948)
  7. Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment
  8. Williams, Tennessee. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  9. Fowles, John. The French Lieutenant’s Woman
  10. Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea
  11. Styron, William. Darkness Visible (1990)
  12. Hardy, Thomas. Far From the Madding Crowd
  13. Yates, Richard. Revolutionary Road (1961)
  14. O’Neill, Eugene. The Iceman Cometh
  15. James, Henry. The Beast in the Jungle
  16. Pym, Barbara. Excellent Women
  17. Lewis, Sinclair. Babbit
  18. Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway
  19. Wilson, Sloan. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1955)
  20. Nabokov, Vladimir. Pnin

Update: We Have a Winner!

It’s lucky #13!

I’m the lucky one. I get to read Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates by January 5.

The Joan Didion Documentary by Griffin Dunne and Susanne Rostock — Kickstarter

We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live is the first and only documentary being made about Joan Didion. While her writing is fierce and exposed, Joan herself is an incredibly private person. We have the privilege to know Joan as a subject and also as a member of our family. Our director, Griffin Dunne, has known Joan his entire life. Joining Griffin as co-director is award-winning filmmaker, Susanne Rostock.

We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live traces the arc of Joan’s life through her own writings, and in her own voice. Our film will tell Joan’s story through passages she has chosen and will read aloud from her work, as her friends, family, colleagues and critics share their accounts of her remarkable life and writing.

via The Joan Didion Documentary by Griffin Dunne and Susanne Rostock — Kickstarter.

The Literary United States: A Map of the Best Book for Every State | Brooklyn Magazine

Several of these books number among the usual suspects of lists of this kind, but many remain anything but widely known. Almost all are fiction and most are novels; some were written for children, but just about every genre is represented. All are literary in voice and spirit; every last one will let you understand a time and place in a more profound way than you maybe thought possible.

via The Literary United States: A Map of the Best Book for Every State | Brooklyn Magazine.

What’s your state’s representative book on this list? And do you agree with the selection? Let us know in the comments.

2014 National Book Award Finalists Named

The National Book Foundation has revealed the finalists for the 2014 National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. The fiction shortlist includes 2014 “5 Under 35″ honoree Phil Klay, along with two-time National Book Award finalist and a Pulitzer Prize winner, Marilynne Robinson. Also shortlisted, for nonfiction, is Roz Chast, the first cartoonist to be honored by the National Book Awards in the adult categories.

via 2014 National Book Award Finalists Named.

Australian’s P.O.W. Novel Wins Man Booker Prize –

The Australian novelist Richard Flanagan was awarded the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday for “The Narrow Road to the Deep North,” which tells the harrowing story of an Australian surgeon who is held in a Japanese P.O.W. camp and is forced to work on the Thailand-Burma Railway.

via Australian’s P.O.W. Novel Wins Man Booker Prize –

Literary News and Notes