Favorite Books


My short-list canon of classics includes the following:

Homer, the Fitzgerald translation of The Odyssey and the Reck translation of The Iliad.

The Dialogues of Plato

Dante's Inferno

Shakespeare

Cervantes, Don Quixote

Swift, Gulliver's Travels

Boswell's Life of Johnson

Goethe, Faust, parts I and II

Proust, Remembrance of Things Past

Ibsen, plays

Tolstoy, some of the short fiction

Kafka, Metamorphosis

Joyce, Ulysses

Borges, Ficciones, and El Aleph

I also recommend the following, in no particular order:

Virgil, The Aeneid

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and Troilus and Cressida

Sir Thomas Browne, works

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

John Milton, especially Lycidas and Samson Agonistes

Moliere, works

Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions

David Hume, works

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Jane Austen, Persuasion

Pushkin, Eugene Onegin

Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

John Stuart Mill, Autobiography

Charles Dickens, Bleak House

Turgenev, On the Eve

Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge, others

Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, Victory, others

Henry James, The Golden Bowl, some of the short fiction

August Strindberg, plays

Franz Kafka, assorted works

Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks

Hermann Broch, The Death of Virgil

Virginia Woolf, assorted works

Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

William Faulkner, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom, others

Raymond Chandler, works

Pramoedya Toer, This Earth of Mankind

For contemporary fiction, I recommend the following assortment:

again in no particular order:

Haruki Murakami, Hard-Boiled Wonderland, Wild Sheep Chase

Michel Tournier, Friday, The Four Wise Men

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Age of Cholera, Notice of a Kidnapping, Living In Order to Tell It

Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead, Executioner's Song, Oswald's Tale, and his book on the astronauts

Anne Tyler, Breathing Lessons

Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Robert Bolano, The Savage Detectives

Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye, The Handmaid's Tale

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor

John Fowles, The Magus (although the ending falls apart)

Anthony Burgess, Autobiography

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Alasdair Gray, Lanark

Peter Hoeg, Smilla's Sense of Snow

Patrick Suskind, The Perfume

Georges Perec, Life: A User's Manual

Italo Calvino, The Baron in the Trees, Invisible Cities

Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children

V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River, A Turn in the South, Among the Believers

Keri Hulme, The Bone People

Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy

Naguib Mahfouz, assorted works

Johannes Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace

Mario Vargas Llosa, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, War of the End of the World

Ian McEwan, Black Dogs, Atonement

John Le Carre

Charles Palliser, The Quincunx

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

Ha Jin, Waiting

Juan Rolfo, Pedro Paramo  

In science fiction I like best:

Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men, Starmaker

Stanislaw Lem, Solaris

William Gibson, Neuromancer

Greg Bear, Eon

Dan Simmons, Hyperion set

Ursula LeGuinn, The Lathe of Heaven

Orson Scott Card, the Ender Trilogy

Frank Herbert, Dune Trilogy

/fir fantasy, my favorites are Tolkein, Lord of the Rings and Theodore White, Once and Future King>

In poetry I like best:

Emily Dickinson

John Keats

Wordsworth

Hoelderlin

Rilke

Blake

Tennyson

Neruda

Wallace Stevens