J. Peder Zane is a writer and editor who has worked at The New York Times and The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh. He 2014has published four books including a collection of newspaper columns titled “Off the Books: On Literature and Culture” (University of South Carolina Press, 2015) and a work of science written with and detailing the discoveries of Professor Adrian Bejan of Duke University, “Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology and Social Organization” (Doubleday, 2012). He edited and contributed to two books published by W.W. Norton, “The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books” (2007) and “Remarkable Reads: 34 Writers and Their Adventures in Reading” (2004). Peder’s work has won several national awards, including the Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He is a former member of the Board of the National Book Critics Circle. He is a graduate of the Collegiate School, Wesleyan University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.


  1. Dear J Peder Zane,
    Thanks so much for making the “Ten Top Ten” site: it’s an excellent mix of novels and the ranking system (though of course it can never be objective–nor would anyone claim it is) gives a great mix of important books.
    The writers who you made contact with are excellent–many of the leading writers in the world.
    I wonder: Do you think it would be possible to carry out the same project regarding short stories?
    (Not collections, I mean, but individual stories.)
    I’ve compiled a list of short story gems over the years.
    I’m sure you have too.
    Imagine the gems that these (excellent) writers have collected!
    We could really assemble the greatest list of gems in the world!

  2. For example, there’s David Foster Wallace’s list, which has all kinds of gems that I would never have discovered on my own. Here’s Wallace’s list:

    I read all of the stories in his list and Lynda Lloyd’s “Poor Boy” was one of the ones that stood out to me as EXTREMELY good.
    I can guarantee you that I would never have found this story in one million years if not for his recommendation.
    That power of gem collection is what I had in mind regarding the project of doing a “Ten Top Ten” short story version.

    Apart from the list above, Wallace also said in interviews that Donald Barthelme’s short story “The Balloon” is what first inspired him to become a writer (high praise).
    I agree that “The Balloon” is absolutely beautiful.

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