Monday, March 12, 2007

Completely Necessary List of Books to be a Literate Member of Society

I was asked by a friend to compile a list of the books that were important for him to read in order to be a Literate and Contributing member of modern culture.
This is my first attempt -- The main criteria for this list was to cover the books that are referenced either directly or in allusion in the literary community. For obvious reasons, that turned out to include all the "staple" books that are required reading for middle school and high school students.
NOTE: This is not a listing of "great books," or even "good books," and not a list of my favorite books, which would be MUCH different. This list is designed to guide young readers in their desire to cover the [quote, unquote] literary basics.

In alphabetical order by the first non-“the” in the book title.
  • 1984--George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair)
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer--Mark Twain
  • A Farewell to Arms--Ernest Hemingway
  • A Lesson Before Dying--Ernest J. Gaines
  • A Separate Peace--John Knowles
  • A Tale of Two Cities--Charles Dickens
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland--Lewis Carroll
  • All the King’s Men--Robert Penn Warren
  • The Ambassadors--Henry James
  • An American Tragedy--Theodore Dreiser
  • Animal Farm--George Orwell
  • As I Lay Dying--William Faulkner
  • Atlas Shrugged--Ayn Rand
  • The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass
  • Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman--Ernest J. Gaines
  • The Awakening--Kate Chopin
  • Beloved--Toni Morrison
  • Bless Me, Ultima--Anaya Rudolfo
  • Brave New World--Aldous Huxley
  • The Bride Price--Buchi Emecheta
  • Brideshead Revisited--Evelyn Waugh
  • The Brothers Karamazov--Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Call of the Wild--Jack London
  • Candide--Voltaire
  • The Catcher in the Rye--J. D. Salinger
  • Cat’s Cradle--Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  • Catch-22--Joseph Heller
  • The Chosen--Chaim Potok
  • The Clan of the Cave Bear--Jean Auel
  • The Color Purple-- Alice Walker
  • The Count of Monte Cristo--Alexander Dumas
  • Crime and Punishment--Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Deliverance--James Dickey
  • Democracy--Joan Didion
  • The Divine Comedy--Dante
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?--Philip K. Dick
  • Doctor Zhivago--Boris Pasternak
  • Don Quixote--Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde--Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Ellen Foster--Kaye Gibbons
  • Empire of the Sun--J. G. Ballard
  • The End of the Affair--Graham Greene
  • Ender’s Game--Orson Scott Card
  • Ethan Frome--Edith Wharton
  • Faust--Goethe
  • Flowers for Algernon--Daniel Keyes
  • The Fountainhead--Ayn Rand
  • Frankenstein--Mary Shelley
  • The Giver--Lois Lowry
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain--James Baldwin
  • Gone with the Wind--Margaret Mitchell
  • The Grapes of Wrath--John Steinbeck
  • Great Expectations--Charles Dickens
  • The Great Gatsby--F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Grendel--John Gardner
  • Gulliver’s Travels--Jonathon Swift
  • Heart of Darkness--Joseph Conrad
  • The Hobbit--J. R. R. Tolkien
  • House Made of Dawn--N. Scott Momaday
  • In Country--Bobbie Ann Mason
  • The Invisible Man--H. G. Wells
  • Invisible Man--Ralph Ellison
  • Ivanhoe--Sir Walter Scott
  • Jane Eyre--Charlotte Bronte
  • The Jungle--Upton Sinclair
  • Kindred--Octavia Butler
  • The Kitchen God’s Wife--Amy Tan
  • The Last of the Mohicans--James Fenimore Cooper
  • The Left Hand of Darkness--Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Les Miserables--Victor Hugo
  • Less Than Zero--Bret Easton Ellis
  • Like Water for Chocolate--Laura Esquivel
  • Lord of the Flies--William Golding
  • Love Medicine--Louise Erdrich
  • Moby Dick--Herman Melville
  • Moll Flanders--Daniel Defoe
  • The Naked and the Dead--Norman Mailer
  • Of Mice and Men--John Steinbeck
  • The Old Gringo--Carlos Fuentes
  • The Old Man and the Sea--Ernest Hemingway
  • On the Road--Jack Kerouac
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest--Ken Kesey
  • Out of Africa--Isak Dinesen
  • Pride and Prejudice--Jane Austen
  • The Prince--Niccolo Machiavelli
  • The Red Badge of Courage--Stephen Crane
  • The Remains of the Day--Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Return of the Native--Thomas Hardy
  • Robinson Crusoe--Daniel Defoe
  • Roots: The Story of an American Family--Alex Haley
  • The Scarlet Letter--Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Screwtape Letters--C. S. Lewis
  • Shogun: A Novel of Japan--James du Maresq Clavell
  • Slaughterhouse Five--Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  • The Slave Dancer--Paula Fox
  • Something Wicked this Way Comes--Ray Bradbury
  • Song of Solomon--Toni Morrison
  • The Sound and the Fury--William Faulkner
  • The Stranger--Albert Camus
  • Summer of My German Soldier--Bette Greene
  • The Sun Also Rises--Ernest Hemingway
  • The Sweet Hereafter--Russell Banks
  • Ten Little Indians--Agatha Christie
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles--Thomas Hardy
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God--Zora Neale Hurston
  • Things Fall Apart--Chinua Achebe
  • The Time Machine--H. G. Wells
  • To Kill a Mockingbird--Harper Lee
  • To the Lighthouse--Virginia Woolf
  • Treason--Orson Scott Card
  • Treasure Island--Robert Louis Stevenson
  • V.--Thomas Pynchon
  • War and Peace--Leo Tolstoy
  • The Waste Land--T. S. Eliot
  • Watership Down--Richard Adams
  • The World According to Garp--John Irving
  • Wuthering Heights--Emily Bronte

I was going to keep this list down to 100 books, but there are probably closer to 120. I would be interested to see submissions from readers, because I know I left off some that were important (i.e.: everybody's read them). Scan through and see if your favorites are on the list.

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