39. Self Help by Lorrie Moore was probably one of the first books I read as an official adult (thanks Glenwood, Illinois, Public Library, sorry about the overdue fines I never paid). Published when I was a mature eighteen year old (no), I read this while slacking off at the animal hospital where I worked after school. I think this was my introduction into smart funny literary books, It also made me a lifelong fan of Lorrie Moore (and I am pretty sure she feels the same way about me). So Liz and I don't get in a big fight, I will leave it to her to write about Moore's masterpiece, Birds of America. You're welcome, Liz.
40. My favorite book of 2003 and certainly on my list of best collections of stories that I've ever read, How to Breath Underwater by Julie Orringer succeeds on every level for me. The stories are smart, unusual in theme (certainly a decade ago), modern, dark, and beautifully written. The introductory story, "Pilgrims" will floor you, and if you are female you most certainly will identify, at least in part to "Note to Sixth Grade Self." I love this collection and have a feeling Orringer will make the Knopf 100 blog again with her novel, The Invisible Bridge which both Liz and I loved.