Bookseller One Grand Books has asked celebrities to name the ten titles they’d take to a desert island, and they’ve shared the results with Vulture. Below is Juliet, Naked director Jesse Peretz’s list.
I read this novel, about a man’s seemingly blessed life unravelling as his child self-destructs, in the first few months after my daughter was born. Feeling my love for her as I read about another parent losing his daughter made it all the more intense.
I had been thinking of this book of essays since I saw the Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro last year, and dipped back into it recently — I hadn’t read it since high school. Back then, it hit me hard. I realized there was a counter-narrative to all the history I had been taught, and I learned that lesson through Baldwin’s beautiful anger.
McEwan’s razor-sharp descriptions of human emotion always hit me hard, and I find this to be the most haunting and heartbreaking of his books. A father looks up in the grocery store and realizes his four-year-old missing; the search for her destroys his marriage and his life. I’m a huge fan of McEwan’s — my first feature was based on his short story “First Love, Last Rites” — but this is the one that stays with me.
I’m fascinated by the premise of Lessing’s horror story, where the threat to survival is not external but literally inside the body and home of the protagonist. The moral quandary of raising a dangerous child is not one many of us will ever confront, but the painful struggle of this family is impossible to look away from.
A meticulous and raw portrait of mourning and grief that takes us through the year after the death of Didion’s husband, as well the accident, illness, and eventual death of her daughter soon afterward. I cried so many times reading this.
A totally joyful history of punk rock told in an unflinching, self-incriminating, and ultimately punk-rock way. It embraced all that punk is — even the stupid stuff. It filled me with a lot of exciting nostalgia for things I didn’t even experience.
I read this 28 years ago, when I first moved to New York City. I’d wanted to live here since I was five years old and the book confirmed every dream I had about what life could be like if you surrounded yourself with the right people. I laughed out loud reading this more than almost anything else I can remember.