DIY Literature School

Steph Ivy Whiteside
Sep 1, 2015 · 4 min read

Confession: I love books. Okay, that’s not exactly a secret if you’ve met me, but it’s related to my secret shame.

I’m woefully under-read when it comes to classic literature.

You see, I’m the product of the American public school system which is not necessarily the greatest in the world. We read a handful of books in high school and I read even fewer, since I entered my rebellious years about halfway through and proceeded to do as little as possible while still getting good grades. It turns out I’m really good at faking it. (Insert journalism joke here.)

Photo via Flickr: Martin

But I’ve always wanted to be one of those mythical well-read people. The kind who, I’m assuming, went to a private school or at least a competitive public school, who took literature classes in college, and who were familiar with the literary canon.

At some point I confessed this secret to my dear friend Nancy who confessed that she had similar feelings. And because we are … well, us we quickly developed a plan. Within a few hours we’d combined four different classic literature lists, eliminated the duplicates, removed books we had both read, and come up with 102 books and a five year plan.

In the event anyone would like to play along at home, I’m sharing the list of books. We’re reading in chronological order and estimate that this will take five years, reading an average of 165 pages per week. Yes, we did the math. Yes, really.

We’ll also both be writing about the subject, so if you’re interested in my thoughts, feelings, and rants about classic literature, stay tuned to this channel for the occasional update.

A few caveats on the list. We’re considering this a survey, so we’re limitig the list to one book per author. In the case of large, multi-volume books, we picked one volume to read. You may also notice omissions of some noteable books considered classics, including The Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby, and 1984, among others. We removed books we have both read, which took some of the best-know titles off the list. We also added some books that aren’t generally considered classics but help add some diversity to the great swaths of Old White Male Authors.

So, here we go!

  1. Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote
  2. Milton, John. Paradise Lost
  3. Bunyan, John. Pilgrim’s Progress
  4. Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe
  5. Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein
  6. Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights
  7. Thackeray, William Makepeace. Vanity Fair
  8. Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield
  9. Melville, Herman. Moby Dick
  10. Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina
  11. Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov
  12. Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  13. Hardy, Thomas. Jude the Obscure
  14. Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness
  15. Kipling, Rudyard. Kim
  16. James, Henry. The Wings of the Dove
  17. London, Jack. The Call of the Wild
  18. Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth
  19. Lawrence, D.H. Sons and Lovers
  20. Maugham, W. Somerset. Of Human Bondage
  21. Lewis, Sinclair. Main Street
  22. Proust, Marcel. The Captive
  23. Forster, E. M. A Passage to India
  24. Dreiser, Theodore. An American Tragedy
  25. Kafka, Franz. The Trial
  26. Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises
  27. Cather, Willa. Death Comes for the Archbishop
  28. Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury
  29. Hughes, Richard. A High Wind in Jamaica
  30. Buck, Pearl S. The Good Earth
  31. Lovecraft, H. P. At the Mountains of Madness
  32. Caldwell, Erskine. Tobacco Road
  33. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. Tender is the Night
  34. Graves, Robert. I, Claudius
  35. Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind
  36. Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  37. Dinesen, Isak. Out of Africa
  38. DuMaurier, Daphne. Rebecca
  39. Joyce, James. Finnegans Wake
  40. McCullers, Carson. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  41. Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead
  42. Waugh, Eveyln. Brideshead Revisited
  43. Bowles, Paul. The Sheltering Sky
  44. Sallinger, J. D. Catcher in the Rye
  45. O’Connor, Flannery. Wise Blood
  46. Steinbeck, John. East of Eden
  47. Baldwin, James. Go Tell It On The Mountain
  48. Kerouac, Jack. On the Road
  49. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart
  50. Bellow, Saul. Henderson the Rain King
  51. Burroughs, William S. Naked Lunch
  52. Jackson, Shirley. The Haunting of Hill House
  53. Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird
  54. Heinlein, Robert. Stranger in a Strange Land
  55. Bradbury, Ray. Something Wicked This Way Comes
  56. Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange
  57. Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar
  58. Haley, Alex. Autobiography of Malcolm X
  59. Herbert, Frank. Dune
  60. Sarton, May. Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing
  61. Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood
  62. Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea
  63. Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. One Hundred Years of Solitude
  64. Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  65. Fowles, John. The French Lieutenant’s Woman
  66. Laurence, Margaret. The Fire-Dwellers
  67. Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five
  68. Adams, Richard. Watership Down
  69. Brown, Rita Mae. Rubyfruit Jungle
  70. Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki. Farewell to Manzanar
  71. Pynchon, Thomas. Gravity’s Rainbow
  72. Le Carre, John. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  73. Jhabvala, Ruth Prawer. Heat and Dust
  74. Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon
  75. King, Stephen. The Stand
  76. Adams, Douglas. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  77. Mailer, Norman. The Executioner’s Song
  78. Ba, Mariama. So Long A Letter
  79. Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits
  80. Walker, Alice. The Color Purple
  81. Hulme, Keri. The Bone People
  82. McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian
  83. Winterson, Jeannette. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
  84. Ishiguro, Kazuo. An Artist of the Floating World
  85. Flagg, Fannie. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
  86. Oates, Joyce Carol. You Must Remember This
  87. Carey, Peter. Oscar And Lucinda
  88. Rushdie, Salman. The Satanic Verses
  89. Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club
  90. Byatt, A.S. Possession: A Romance
  91. Robbins, Tom. Skinny Legs and All
  92. Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina
  93. Barker, Pat. Regeneration
  94. Ondaatje, Michael. The English Patient
  95. Castillo, Ana. So Far From God
  96. Feinberg, Leslie. Stone Butch Blues.
  97. Murakami, Haruki. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
  98. Alexi, Sherman. Reservation Blues
  99. Roth, Philip. American Pastoral
  100. Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things
  101. Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible
  102. Dubus, Andre. House of Sand and Fog

Steph Ivy Whiteside

Written by

News. Knitting. Cats. Shenanigans. Works @AJplus. Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

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