The Telegraph has a list of 100 novels everyone should read: I’ve read 36 of them. The Guardian apparently has a list of science fiction and fantasy books to read, which is listed all over the place as it’s become a meme; I got it here and have read 54 of the 150 or so books on the list.

I’d add the ones I haven’t read to my reading list, but I really think I might cry if I did that. I embarked on an ambitious reading project in December 2007, with the end goal of having read whatever American novels I probably would have read had I grown up here (with the caveat that I have an English degree, so this well-read Alternate Universe Joanne would presumably have one too). The list itself is a bit bizarre, since of course I didn’t bother listing books I’d already read, which is a few, so as a comprehensive list of classic and must-read American novels, it’s a tragic failure.

Anyway, here is where the list stands now:

Currently reading: The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.

(PP) = Pulitzer / (NBA) = National Book Award / (R) = Radcliffe 100


  1.     Adams, Henry. The Education of Henry Adams.
  2.     Algren, Nelson. The Man with the Golden Arm (NBA).
  3.     Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina.
  4.     Anderson, Edward. Thieves Like Us.
  5.     Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
  6.     Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.
  7.     Apple, Max. The Propheteers.
  8.     Baldwin, James. Go Tell It On The Mountain (R).
  9.     Ball, Edward. Slaves in the Family.
  10.     Barrett, Andrea. Ship Fever and Other Stories (NBA) or Voyage of the Narwhal.
  11.     Barth, John. Chimera (NBA).
  12.     Barthelme, Donald. City Life.
  13.     Bellow, Saul. Herzog (NBA) or Humboldt’s Gift (PP) or Mr. Sammler’s Planet (NBA) or The Adventures of Augie March (NBA).
  14.     Bierce, Ambrose. The Devil’s Dictionary or The Parenticide Club.
  15.     Blos, Joan. A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal (Newbery).
  16.     Brooks, Geraldine. March (PP).
  17.     Burroughs, William. Naked Lunch.
  18.     Butler, Robert Olen. A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (PP).
  19.     Caldwell, Erskine. Tobacco Road.
  20.     Calvert, Patricia. Sooner.
  21.     Cantor, Jay. Krazy Kat.
  22.     Capote, Truman. Breakfast at Tiffany’s: A Short Novel and Three Stories or Other Voices, Other Rooms or In Cold Blood (R).
  23.     Carver, Raymond. Cathedral.
  24.     Casey, John. Spartina (NBA).
  25.     Chabon, Michael. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay or The Yiddish Policeman’s Union (PP).
  26.     Chandler Harris, Joel. Uncle Remus.
  27.     Chandler, Raymond. The Big Sleep or Farewell, My Lovely or Playback or The High Window or The Lady in the Lake or The Little Sister or The Long Goodbye.
  28.     Cheever, John. The Stories of John Cheever (NBA/PP) or The Wapshot Chronicle (NBA).
  29.     Condon, Richard. Winter Kills or The Manchurian Candidate.
  30.     Coolidge, Susan. What Katy Did at School.
  31.     Coover, Robert. Briar Rose or Spanking the Maid.
  32.     Crane, Stephen. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets or The Red Badge of Courage.
  33.     Crews, Harry. Karate is a Thing of the Spirit.
  34.     Cullin, Mitch. Tideland.
  35.     Cunningham, Michael. The Hours (PP).
  36.     Daugherty, James. Daniel Boone (Newbery).
  37.     DeLillo, Don. White Noise (NBA/R).
  38.     Dexter, Pete. Paris Trout (NBA).
  39.     Dickey, James. Deliverance.
  40.     Didion, Joan. Slouching Towards Bethlehem or The Year of Magical Thinking.
  41.     Doctorow, E. L.. World’s Fair (NBA).
  42.     Dreiser, Theodore. An American Tragedy (R) or Sister Carrie.
  43.     D’Souza, Tony. The Konkans.
  44.     Earley, Tony. Somehow Form A Family: Stories That Are Mostly True or Here We Are In Paradise.
  45.     Elkin, Stanley. The Franchiser.
  46.     Ellis, Bret Easton. Less Than Zero.
  47.     Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man (NBA/R).
  48.     Eugenides, Jeffrey. Middlesex (PP).
  49.     Faulkner, William. The Wild Palms or The Reivers (PP) or Absalom, Absalom! (R) or The Sound and the Fury (R) or As I Lay Dying (R).
  50.     Faulkner, William. The Collected Stories of William Faulkner (NBA).
  51.     Fearing, Kenneth. The Big Clock.
  52.     Fenimore Cooper, James. Leatherstocking Tales or The Last of the Mohicans or The Spy.
  53.     Fleischman, Sid. The Whipping Boy (Newbery).
  54.     Ford, Richard. Independence Day (PP).
  55.     Franzen, Jonathan. The Corrections (NBA).
  56.     Frazier, Charles. Cold Mountain (NBA).
  57.     Gaddis, William. The Recognitions or A Frolic of His Own (NBA) or J R (NBA).
  58.     Gilchrist, Ellen. Victory Over Japan: A Book of Stories (NBA).
  59.     Gipson, Fred. Old Yeller.
  60.     Glass, Julia. Three Junes (NBA).
  61.     goldberg, d.g.k. Queen of the Country.
  62.     Grau, Shirley Ann. The Keepers of the House (PP).
  63.     Gresham, William Lindsay. Nightmare Alley.
  64.     Gurganus, Allan. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All or White People.
  65.     Hannah, Barry. Geronimo Rex.
  66.     Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The House of the Seven Gables or The Marble Faun or The Blithedale Romance or Twice-Told Tales.
  67.     Hazzard, Shirley. The Great Fire (NBA).
  68.     Heinemann, Larry. Paco’s Story (NBA).
  69.     Heller, Joseph. Catch-22 (R).
  70.     Helprin, Mark. Winter’s Tale.
  71.     Hemingway, Ernest. The Short Stories.
  72.     Hijuelos, Oscar. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (PP).
  73.     hooks, bell. Ain’t I a Woman.
  74.     Irving, Washington. A History of New York, by Diedrich Knickerbocker or Salmagundi.
  75.     Jackson, Shirley. The Lottery and Other Stories.
  76.     Jin, Ha. Waiting (NBA).
  77.     Johnson, Charles. Middle Passage (NBA).
  78.     Johnson, Denis. Tree of Smoke (NBA).
  79.     Jones, Edward P. The Known World (PP).
  80.     Jones, James. From Here to Eternity (NBA).
  81.     Jones, LeRoi (Amiri Baraka). Blues People.
  82.     Kennedy Toole, John. A Confederacy of Dunces (PP).
  83.     Kennedy, William. Ironweed (PP).
  84.     Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (R).
  85.     Knowles, John. A Separate Peace (R).
  86.     Kosinski, Jerzy. Steps (NBA) or The Painted Bird.
  87.     Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies (PP).
  88.     Leonard, Elmore. La Brava (Edgar).
  89.     Lewis, Sinclair. Babbitt (R) or Main Street (R).
  90.     Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars (Newbery).
  91.     Lurie, Alison. Foreign Affairs (PP).
  92.     Mailer, Norman. The Deer Park or Armies of the Night or The Executioner’s Song (PP) or The Naked and the Dead (R).
  93.     Malamud, Bernard. The Fixer (NBA/PP) or The Magic Barrel (NBA).
  94.     Maxwell, William. So Long, See You Tomorrow (NBA).
  95.     McCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses (NBA) or Child of God or The Crossing or The Road (PP).
  96.     McCullers, Carson. Member of the Wedding or The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.
  97.     McDermott, Alice. Charming Billy (NBA/R).
  98.     McMurtry, Larry. Lonesome Dove (PP).
  99.     McPherson, James Alan. Elbow Room (PP).
  100.     McSweeney, Joyelle. Flet.
  101.     Melville, Herman. Billy Budd or Typee.
  102.     Michener, James A. Centennial or Tales of the South Pacific (PP).
  103.     Millar, Margaret. Beast in View (Edgar) or The Iron Gates.
  104.     Miller, Henry. Tropic of Cancer (R).
  105.     Millhauser, Steven. Martin Dressler (PP).
  106.     Momaday, N. Scott. House Made of Dawn (PP).
  107.     Monette, Paul. Borrowed Time.
  108.     Morris, Wright. Plains Song (NBA) or The Field of Vision (NBA).
  109.     Morrison, Toni. Beloved (R) or Song of Solomon (R).
  110.     Nabokov, Vladmir. Lolita (R).
  111.     Oates, Joyce Carol. them (NBA).
  112.     O’Brien, Tim. Going After Cacciato (NBA).
  113.     O’Connor, Edwin. The Edge of Sadness (PP).
  114.     O’Hara, John. Appointment in Samara or Butterfield 8 or Ten North Frederick (NBA).
  115.     Ohle, David. The Pisstown Chaos.
  116.     Olson, Charles. Call Me Ishmael.
  117.     Olson, Tillie. Tell Me a Riddle.
  118.     Percy, Walker. The Moviegoer (NBA).
  119.     Porter, Eleanor H. Pollyanna.
  120.     Porter, Katherine Anne. Flowering Judas and Other Stories or The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter (NBA/PP).
  121.     Powers, J. F. Morte D’Urban (NBA).
  122.     Powers, Richard. The Echo Maker (NBA).
  123.     Pynchon, Thomas. Gravity’s Rainbow (NBA) or The Crying of Lot 49.
  124.     Randall, Alice. The Wind Done Gone or Pushkin and the Queen of Spades.
  125.     Raskin, Ellen. The Westing Game (Newbery).
  126.     Rawls, Wilson. Where the Red Fern Grows.
  127.     Rich, Adrienne. On Lies, Secrets and Silence.
  128.     Richter, Conrad. The Town (PP) or The Waters of Kronos (NBA).
  129.     Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead (PP).
  130.     Rush, Norman. Mating (NBA).
  131.     Russo, Richard. Empire Falls (PP).
  132.     Seredy, Kate. The White Stag (Newbery).
  133.     Settle, Mary Lee. Blood Ties (NBA).
  134.     Shaara, Michael. The Killer Angels (PP).
  135.     Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle (R).
  136.     Singer, Isaac B. A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories (NBA) or The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer.
  137.     Smiley, Jane. A Thousand Acres (PP).
  138.     Smith, Lee. Fancy Strut or Black Mountain Breakdown.
  139.     Smith, Richard Penn. Colonel Crockett’s Exploits and Adventures in Texas.
  140.     Sontag, Susan. In America (NBA).
  141.     Speare, Elizabeth George. The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Newbery).
  142.     Stafford, Jean. The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford (PP).
  143.     Stegner, Wallace. Angle of Repose (PP) or Crossing to Safety or The Spectator Bird (NBA).
  144.     Steinbeck, John. The Winter of Our Discontent.
  145.     Stone, Robert. Dog Soldiers (NBA).
  146.     Styron, William. Sophie’s Choice (NBA/R) or The Confessions of Nat Turner (PP).
  147.     Tartt, Donna. The Little Friend.
  148.     Taylor, Peter. A Summons to Memphis (PP).
  149.     Thurber, James. A Thurber Carnival.
  150.     Tuck, Lily. The News from Paraguay (NBA).
  151.     Twain, Mark. Pudd’nhead Wilson.
  152.     Tyler, Anne. Breathing Lessons (PP) or Accidental Tourist.
  153.     Uris, Leon. Exodus or Trinity.
  154.     Vidal, Gore. The United States: Essays 1952-1992.
  155.     Vollmann, William. Rainbow Stories or Europe Central (NBA).
  156.     Walker, Alice. The Color Purple (NBA).
  157.     Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest.
  158.     Warren, Robert Penn. All the Kings Men (R).
  159.     West, Nathaniel. The Day of the Locust or Miss Lonelyhearts.
  160.     White, Edmund. A Boy’s Own Story.
  161.     Wilder, Thornton. The Eighth Day (NBA).
  162.     Willard, Nancy. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn (Newbery).
  163.     Williams, John Edward. Augustus (NBA).
  164.     Williams, Tennessee. Orpheus Descending.
  165.     Williams, Thomas. The Hair of Harold Roux (NBA).
  166.     Wolfe, Thomas. Look Homeward, Angel (R) or You Can’t Go Home Again.
  167.     Wolfe, Tom. Bonfire of the Vanities (R).
  168.     Woolrich, Cornell. Rear Window.
  169.     Wouk, Herman. The Caine Mutiny (PP) or The Winds of War or War and Remembrance.
  170.     Wright, Richard. Native Son (R).
  171.     X, Malcolm and Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
  172.     Yates, Richard. Revolutionary Road.


  1.     Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio.
  2.     Baum, L. Frank. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (R).
  3.     Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward.
  4.     Burroughs, Edgar Rice. The Land That Time Forgot.
  5.     Cain, James M. The Postman Always Rings Twice.
  6.     Cather, Willa. O Pioneers!
  7.     Cheney Neville, Emily. It’s Like This, Cat.
  8.     Chopin, Kate. The Awakening.
  9.     Curwood, James Oliver. God’s Country – And the Woman.
  10.     Estes, Eleanor. Ginger Pye (Newbery).
  11.     Fitzgerald, F. Scott. This Side of Paradise.
  12.     Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.
  13.     Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon (R).
  14.     Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises.
  15.     Jackson, Shirley. We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
  16.     James, Henry. Daisy Miller.
  17.     James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw.
  18.     Jewett, Sarah Orne. Country of the Pointed Firs.
  19.     Kerouac, Jack. On The Road (R) (abandoned this at the three-quarter mark).
  20.     Konigsburg, E. L. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
  21.     Lawson, Robert. Rabbit Hill.
  22.     Leonard, Elmore. Pagan Babies.
  23.     Lofting, Hugh. The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle (Newbery).
  24.     London, Jack. The Call of the Wild.
  25.     Longstreet, Augustus Baldwin. Georgia Scenes.
  26.     MacLachlan, Patricia. edward’s eyes.
  27.     MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall.
  28.     McCoy, Horace. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
  29.     O’Brien, Robert C. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.
  30.     O’Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor.
  31.     Paterson, Katherine. Bridge to Terebithia.
  32.     Paterson, Katherine. Jacob Have I Loved.
  33.     Proulx, E. Annie. Bad Dirt.
  34.     Rand, Ayn. Anthem.
  35.     Roth, Philip. The Great American Novel.
  36.     Roth, Philip. The Plot Against America.
  37.     Sachar, Louis. Holes.
  38.     Salinger, J. D. Nine Stories.
  39.     Shields, Carol. Collected Stories.
  40.     Stein, Gertrude. Tender Buttons.
  41.     Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men.
  42.     Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.
  43.     Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
  44.     Twain, Mark. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.
  45.     Twain, Mark. The Innocents Abroad.
  46.     Twain, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
  47.     Updike, John. Terrorist.
  48.     Welty, Eudora. Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.
  49.     Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome (R).

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2 thoughts on “Book Lists

  1. That is a cool list but I noticed that William Burroughs is listed for William Faulkner’s work.

    Easy typo to make. Hard work to confuse.

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