Updated 10-10-12 list

Hello hello

After many great recommendations and some good conversation, I’ve made a number of changes to the list. Feel free to peruse and comment as you see fit. On-deck simply means that these are alternatives that I may consider substituting it at any given point. As a reader, I normally finish everything that I start reading (except for academic stuff … perhaps unfortunately). I’ve often slowed down my reading if I get stuck reading a really long book, like War and Peace. So, this year, I’m going to stop reading if at some point I’m not feeling a novel or book. This is basically sacrilege for me, but I can’t see myself finishing if I get stuck in the middle of Moby Dick. Anyways, I’ve created the on-deck category in case of emergencies like failing interest levels. That being said, the first five works in each category are non-negotiable, I’m going to read these books. So, if you see one that is a disaster waiting to happen, let me know.


  1. We the Animals – Justin Torres
  2. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  3. A River Runs Through It – Norman Maclean
  4. I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
  5. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
  6. Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
  7. The Time Machine– H.G. Wells
  8. Trains Dreams – Denis Johnson
  9. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  10. The Stranger – Albert Camus

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

American literature

  1. Moby Dick­ – Herman Melville
  2. Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  3. Canada – Richard Ford
  4. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
  5. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  6. Freedom – Jonathan Franzen (This one is on the fence between non-negotiable and negotiable. It’s been sitting on my shelf for a long time, begging me to read it)
  7. The Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides
  8. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
  9. Cane – Jean Toomer
  10. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Underworld – Don DeLillo (It was really painful to pull this one out because I really like his work, but this novel is huge)
As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper (This one is tempting because as much as I hated John Richardson’s Wacousta, the general level of ridiculousness and contradiction made it fun to read. I’m guessing that Cooper’s work would be similar).

Collections of short fiction

  1. The Love of a Good Woman – Alice Munro
  2. Women with Men – Richard Ford
  3. Drown – Junot Diaz
  4. Jesus’s Son – Denis Johnson
  5. From the Fifteenth District – Mavis Gallant
  6. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love – Raymond Carver
  7. Everything that Rises Must Converge – Flannery O’Connor
  8. Forty Stories – Donald Barthelme
  9. No one belongs here more than you – Miranda July (had to add this one after hearing a version of one of her stories on the New Yorker’s podcast)
  10. The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien

At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom – Amy Hemple
Pastoralia – George Saunders
The Night in Question – Tobias Wolff
Last Night  – James Salter

Pulitzer/Booker prize winners 

  1. A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan
  2. Beloved – Toni Morrison
  3. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – Michael Chabon
  4. Life and Times of Michael K – J.M. Coetzee
  5. The Famished Road – Ben Okri
  6. The Confessions of Nat Turner – William Styron
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  8. The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai
  9. The Bone People – Keri Hulme
  10. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

Indigenous literature

  1. Motorcycles and Sweet Grass – Drew Hayden Taylor
  2. Ten Little Indians – Sherman Alexie
  3. Ravensong – Lee Maracle
  4. The Incovenient Indian – Thomas King
  5. The Stone Canoe – Peter Sanger, Elizabeth Paul
  6. Write It On Your Heart – Harry Robinson
  7. Ceremony – Leslie Marmon Silko
  8. Angel Wing Splash Pattern – Richard Van Camp
  9. Baby No-Eyes – Patricia Grace
  10. Carpentaria – Alexis Wright

The Round House – Louise Erdrich

Science Fiction

  1.  Dune  – Frank Herbert
  2. Day of the Triffids – John Windham
  3. The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury
  4. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein
  5. The Gone-Away World – Nick Harkaway
  6. The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
  7. Consider Phlebas – Iain M. Banks
  8. Red Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson
  9. Neuromancer – William Gibson
  10. Foundation – Isaac Asimov


Saltfish Girl – Larissa Lai
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
Solaris – Stanislav Lem

Crime/Detective Fiction

  1. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. Get Shorty – Elmore Leonard
  3. Beach Strip – John Lawrence Reynolds
  4. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
  5. Fatal Grace – Louise Penny
  6. L.A. Confidential – James Ellroy
  7. Sidetracked – Henning Mankell
  8. The Hunter – Richard Stark
  9. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John le Carre
  10. The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

The Trial – Franz Kafka
The MoonstoneWilkie Collins

Poetry collections

  1. Cartography and Walking – Adam Dickinson
  2. Black – George Elliotte Clarke
  3. Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person – Eirin Moure
  4. Night Fields  – Don McKay
  5. New and Selected Poems– Mary Oliver
  6. Yesno – Dennis Lee
  7. The Martyrology Books 1 & 2 – bpNichol
  8. Land to Light On – Dionne Brand
  9. Towards the Last Spike – E.J. Pratt
  10. Steveston – Daphne Marlatt

Residence on Earth – Pablo Neruda
Spring and All – William Carlos Williams
Omeros – Derek Walcott
Things of This World – Richard Wilbur
Harmonium – Wallace Stevens

Environmentally Friendly Books

I have a funny feeling work stuff is sneaking into this category and I hadn’t meant it to. Oh well, what can you do.

  1. Discordant Harmonies  – Daniel Botkin
  2. Ecological Imperialism – Alfred Crosby
  3. The Practice of the Wild – Gary Snyder
  4. The Golden Spruce – John Valliant
  5. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard
  6. Arctic Dreams – Barry Lopez
  7. Birdscapes – Jeremy Mynott
  8. Silent Spring – Rachel Carson
  9. Out of Eden – Alan Burdick
  10. Eating Dirt – Charlotte Gill

Botany of Desire – Michael Pollan
The Great Lakes – Wayne Grady
Trauma Farm – Brian Brett
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson
Bird, Sky, Song – Trevor Herriot
The Death of Nature – Carolyn Merchant
Sand County Almanac – Aldo Leopold

Young Adult Literature

  1. Perks of Being Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
  2. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
  3. The True Meaning of Smekday – Adam Rex
  4. Wednesday Wars – Gary Schmidt
  5. Jim the Boy – Tony Earley
  6. Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer
  7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
  8. The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
  9. The Giver – Lois Lowry
  10. The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman

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