Another Look was born in 2012, when award-winning author Tobias Wolff, who then headed Stanford’s Creative Writing Program, along with Stanford literary journalist Cynthia Haven, decided that Stanford needed a book club that would be a magnet for book-lovers at Stanford, the Bay Area, and beyond. It would focus on short works that could be read in a few sittings – perfect for Silicon Valley professionals who don’t have the time or stamina for The Gulag Archipelago or Clarissa. It would feature “insider’s tips” on overlooked classics, forgotten masterpieces, or simply books that hadn’t gotten the attention they merit, rather than the popular, broad audience books that monopolize the tables of the chain bookstores – hence the name they settled on, the “Another Look Book Club.”
When Tobias Wolff retired in 2015, he became Another Look’s emeritus director and is a regular panelist for the seasonal events. The distinguished author Robert Pogue Harrison, contributor to the New York Review of Books and host of the popular radio talk show, “Entitled Opinions” (as well as a Stanford professor of Italian literature), assumed the directorship of Another Look.
Over the four years of its existence, Another Look’s success has been beyond anything Wolff had originally envisioned. Another Look has been discussed in The Guardian, and Haven’s interview with Philip Roth for The Ghost Writer was republished in Le Monde, La Repubblica, Die Welt, and elsewhere. It now has nearly 1,200 subscribers on its mailing list and events are often standing-room-only. It regularly gets letters from from book-lovers around the world who are reading the featured books along with their California counterparts. And many of the overlooked classics Another Look has read aren’t so overlooked today.
One of the most frequent questions: what books has Another Look spotlighted in the past? Here’s a list to date:
William Maxwell, So Long See You Tomorrow
Janet Lewis, The Wife of Martin Guerre
Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
J.R. Ackerley, My Father and Myself
Philip Roth, The Ghost Writer
Marguerite Duras, The Lover
Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
Albert Camus, The Stranger
J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country
J.A. Baker, The Peregrine
Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God
Joseph Conrad, The Shadow-Line
Dostoevsky’s The Double
Sándor Márai’s Embers
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