“The Novice: A Story of True Love” Thich Nhat Hanh
“Mrs Dalloway” (annotated) Virginia Woolf
“Gould's Book of Fish” Richard Flanagan
“Baltasar and Blimunda” Jose Saramundo
“Briefing for a Descent Into Hell” Doris Lessing
“Olive Kitteridge” Elizabeth Strout
“Candide” Voltaire — Free copy. Indispensible.
“Babbitt” Sinclair Lewis — Free copy. The American no-nothing commercial class, exactly.
“The Narrow Road to the Deep North” Richard Flanagan
“Submission” Michel Houellebecq
“Soul Mountain” Gao Xingjian
“The Golden Notebook: A Novel” Doris Lessing
“My Antonia” Willa Cather — the haunting life on the plains, the austere and glowing story of first love.
“Underworld” Don DeLillo — the first chapter is about as good as writing gets, ever. Exuberant.
“All the Light We Cannot See” Anthony Doerr
— A blind girl in hiding, her father's radio. Unfiorgettable,
“You Can’t Go Home Again” Thomas Wolfe — I love his lush, hypervigilant writing.
“The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman” — Laurence Stern — surprisingly fresh and droll.
“Jane Eyre” (includes the other Brontë novels) Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Anne Brontë — I was Jane as a child; I was saved by Jane.
“Wise Blood /A Good Man Is Hard to Find /The Violent Bear It Away /Everything that Rises Must Converge /Essays & Letters” Flannery O’Connor — Her polished, bitter, incisive prose, her grit, her redemptive stories.
“The Moonshine War: A Novel” Elmore Leonard
Leonard writes like no other: the tightest, clearest, most vivid stories, and shrewd character studies.
“The Road” Cormac McCarthy
“White Jazz” James Ellroy
One of the most powerful, original prose stylists of the last 50 years. His masterpiece.
“Nothing That Meets the Eye: The Uncollected Stories” Patricia Highsmith
Nuanced, mysterious, and crystal clear prose. Master’s class in short story writing.
“A Girl is a Half-formed Thing” Elmear McBride
“The Goldfinch: A Novel” Donna Tartt