A Post-Graduate DIY MFA Reading List

Several years ago I quit my job and started writing a novel. Since then, I’ve spent a good chunk of every weekday reading, writing and thinking about that story. To stay focused, I put together a reading list and wrote brief reviews of those books.

Though it took twice as long as I thought it would – and I ended up reading twice as many books – my first novel is now complete. The reading list was so integral to my development as an author that I wanted to do it all over again. Below is the list I’ll tackle as I start writing the next book … a sort of post-graduate do-it-yourself MFA reading list:

  1. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
  2. The Recognitions by William Gaddis
  3. The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis
  4. Swimming in the Volcano by Bob Shacochis
  5. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
  6. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
  7. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño
  8. The Shadow of the Shadow by Paco Ignacio Taibo II
  9. Returning as Shadows by Paco Ignacio Taibo II
  10. Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  11. The Sinaloa Story by Barry Gifford
  12. The Barbarian Nurseries by Héctor Tobar
  13. At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcon
  14. The City and the City by China Miéville
  15. Truth Like the Sun by Jim Lynch
  16. Querencia by Stephen Bodio
  17. Provinces of Night by William Gay
  18. Damascus Gate by Robert Stone
  19. In The Shadow of Young Girls in Flower by Marcel Proust
  20. Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
  21. Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta
  22. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
  23. The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya
  24. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  25. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  26. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  27. Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru
  28. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
  29. C by Tom McCarthy
  30. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  31. The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
  32. Personae by Sergio de la Pava
  33. The Deadly Percheron by John Franklin Bardin
  34. A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews
  35. The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West
  36. The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing
  37. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
  38. Nightmare Alley by William Lindsey Gresham
  39. A Scanner Darkly by Phillip K. Dick
  40. Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
  41. The Body Artist by Don DeLillo
  42. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
  43. Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
  44. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  45. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  46. Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
  47. Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
  48. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  49. Room by Emma Donoghue
  50. Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
  51. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  52. The Mexico City Reader by Rubén Gallo