It may seem arrogant to refer to one’s first published book as a Work of Staggering Genius, but in Dave Eggers’s case, the truth is in the pages. The Pulitzer Prize nominated memoir, published in 2000, is easy to get lost in with its conversational narrative that’s at once paranoid and adept, casual yet sincere. And while it is heartbreaking to witness the deterioration of an otherwise unremarkable suburban family, as both Eggers’ parents succumb to cancer within a span of 32 days, the book is also undeniably uplifting and succeeds as an honest (if partly fictionalized) portrayal of the strength of family in the face of adversity. Eggers excels at conveying the weight of the burden laid upon him when, at age 21, he accepts the role of parent to his 8-year-old brother Toph. Though his “new model” parenting methods might not be considered normal by society’s standards, Eggers doesn’t hide from the fact that nothing about his and his brother’s situation is “normal.” Instead, he demands that the universe repay him and Toph for the heartache they’ve endured. Eleven years, six books, a successful publishing imprint and numerous nonprofits later, it seems that Eggers has been repaid in full.
All-TIME 100 Nonfiction Books
Politics and war, science and sports, memoir and biography — there's a great big world of nonfiction books out there just waiting to be read. We picked the 100 best and most influential written in English since 1923, the beginning of TIME ... magazine
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Autobiography / Memoir
Self-Help / Instructional