Lists are all the rage on social media like Facebook: how do you stack up against your friends or your peer group or complete strangers? About two years ago I started my own peculiar lists of books, with the idea to determine how much you and I might be alike, in our reading habits and history. I like to think that I have an eclectic taste in books; I also have a lot of gaps in the list of so-called “canon”–books that I’ve never read. For example, I’ve never read Wuthering Heights, or Gone With the Wind, or Huckleberry Finn. I’ve always gone my own way, and read what I wanted to read, rather than what I should have read. Have you read even a quarter of the books on this list? We might be soulmates.
Books
1. Post Office – Charles Bukowski
2. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
5. The Foundation Trilogy – Isaac Asimov
6. Lord Foul’s Bane – Stephen R. Donaldson’
7. Blue Movie – Terry Southern
8. Shoeless Joe – W.P. Kinsella
9. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
10. Nostromo – Joseph Conrad
11. The Man in the High Tower – Philip K. Dick
12. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
13. Lanark – Alasdair Gray
14. Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis
15. Confessions of an English Opium Eater – Thomas de Quincey
16. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
17. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
18. This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall – Gordon Korman
19. The New ATom’s Bombshell – Robert Browne
20. any Encyclopedia Brown books – Donald J. Sobol
21. A Spell for Chameleon – Piers Anthony
22. The Breast – Phillip Roth
23. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid – Michael Ondaatje
24. The Possessed – Fiodr Dostoevskii
25. Never Cry Wolf – Farley Mowat
26. Watchmen – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
27. Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth – Chris Ware
28. The Dead Zone – Stephen King
29. Myra Breckinridge – Gore Vidal
30. The Stranger – Albert Camus
31. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
32. The Tin Drum – Gunter Grass
33. Shikasta – Doris Lessing
34. The Razor’s Edge – W. Somerset Maugham
35. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
36. The Swing in the Garden – Hugh Hood
37. 1984 – George Orwell
38. We – Evgenii Zamiatin
39. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
40. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
41. The Iron Dream – Norman Spinrad
42. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
43. Solomon Gursky Was Here – Mordecai Richler
44. Survivor – Chuck Palahniuk
45. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
46. Moby-Dick – Herman Melville
47. Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh
48. The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
49. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
50. 40 Stories – Donald Barthelme
51. A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters
52. Darkness at Noon – Arthur Koestler
53. The Mosquito Coast – Paul Theroux
54. The Pornographer’s Poem – Michael Turner
55. The White Hotel – D.M. Thomas
56. Confessions of a Mask – Yukio Mishima
57. The Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell
58. The Basketball Diaries – Jim Carroll
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
60. Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
61. Cancer Ward – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
62. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoi
63. The Abortion – Richard Brautigan
64. Exercises in Style – Raymond Queneau
65. Nazi Literature in the Americas – Roberto Bolano
66. Scott Pilgrim – Bryan Lee O’Malley
67. Important Artifacts and Personal Property… – Leanne Shapton
68. Harmony – Project Itoh
69. Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome
70. The White Bone – Barbara Gowdy
71. Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
72. You Know Me Al – Ring Lardner
73. Such a Long Journey – Rohinton Mistry
74. The Pussycat Transplant – Ted Mark
75. Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book – Shel Silverstein
76. Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crockett Johnson
77. Birdland – Gilberto Hernandez
78. *
* You’ll notice that the list ends prematurely at 77 titles, when I had intended to get to 100. I don’t know if I can get back into the mindset of coming up with this list, without referring to notes.
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