Recently, one of my writing professors gave the class an assignment: Write a list of the 50 books that you find to be the most important to the craft of writing. In other words – what 50 books have you found indispensable? What 50 books do you think changed the course of writing? What 50 books would you spend the rest of your life reading?

Well folks, in no particular order and with no guarantees that it won’t change tomorrow, here is THE LIST . . .

1. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

2. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

3. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

4. The Witches – Roald Dahl

5. A Box of Matches – Nicholson Baker

6. Vox – Nicholson Baker

7. Shopgirl – Steve Martin

8. Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays – Steve Martin

9. Rumo and his Miraculous Adventures – Walter Moers

10. Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

11. Daisy Miller – Henry James

12. A Sicilian Romance – Ann Radcliffe

13. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

14. The Road – Cormac McCarthy

15. Child of God – Cormac McCarthy

16. The Gilded Bat – Edward Gorey

17. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

18. The Trouble with Poetry – Billy Collins

19. Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation – Lynne Truss

20. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

21. The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton

22. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

23. The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka

24. Me Talk Pretty One Day (listen to the audio book, too) – David Sedaris

25. The Twits – Roald Dahl

26. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More – Roald Dahl

27. The Life and Loves of a She Devil – Fay Weldon

28. Angels and Insects: Two Novellas – A.S. Byatt

29. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

30. It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzini

31. Teen Angst? Naaah . . . – Ned Vizzini

32. Watership Down – Richard Adams

33. Adam Bede – George Eliot

34. Carrie – Stephen King

35. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King

36. Exotique – Not quite sure who wrote this. This is the title of the compilation of the magazines from the 50s that I mentioned in an earlier post.

37. The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis

38. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis

39. Boy – Roald Dahl

40. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

41. The Complete Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi

42. Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People – Amy Sedaris

43. The Chronology of Water: A Memoir – Lidia Yuknavitch

44. Two or Three Things I Know for Sure – Dorothy Allison

45. Youth in Revolt – C.D. Payne

46. The Collected Works of Emily Dickinson

47. Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell

48. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

49. Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris

50. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R Tolkien

Now, there are a few things to be said about this list: I do not claim to have read every book in the world and so I do not claim that these are the best ones, I only claim that they have influenced me and my writing the most. I do not prescribe these books as the end all be all of good writing, I merely recommend them and hope they can provide you with the same amount of joy and wonder that they have provided me. This list will also change as I read more and get older, and I don’t know about you, but I think that is a beautiful thing.

What’s your list? And it doesn’t have to be a list of 50, it can be a list of 5, 10, 37, 112, whatever you please!

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