Reading Lists

Originally this page had only a list of recommended short fiction, but it's expanded now to also include books, plays and poems. Enjoy!

Good Short Fiction

Books and Plays



Good Short Fiction

I often write about good short fiction on this blog and mention where I came across each story. For the most part I've been reading collections checked out from the library, but any story that's in the public domain can probably also be found online.

Leila Aboulela: The Museum
Daniel Abraham: The Cambist and Lord Iron
Chinua Achebe: Civil Peace
Alice Adams: After You've Gone; Roses, Rhododendron
S.Y. Agnon: The Doctor's Divorce
Robert Aickman: The Hospice
Ama Ata Aidoo: A Gift From Somewhere; The Late Bud
Conrad Aiken: Silent Snow, Secret Snow
Louisa May Alcott:
Kate's Choice
David Alexander: Mama's Boy
Margery Allingham: Three Is a Lucky Number
Dorothy Allison: Mama
Steve Almond: Stop
Mia Alvar:
 A Contract Overseas; In the Country; Legends of the White Lady; The Miracle Worker; Shadow Families; The Virgin of Monte Ramon
Julia Alvarez: Amor Divino
Sherwood Anderson: Death in the Woods
Ted Anthony: A User's Guide to Keeping Your Kills Fresh
Max Apple: Bridging; The Oranging of America
Charlotte Armstrong: The Splintered Monday
Juan José Arreola: The Switchman
Louis Auchincloss: The Colonel's Foundation
Paul Auster: Auggie Wren's Christmas Story

J.G. Ballard: The Garden of Time
Toni Cade Bambara: The Lesson
Russell Banks: The Gully
Daniel Wynn Barber: Tiger in the Snow
Robert Barnard: The Oxford Way of Death
Andrea Barrett: The Littoral Zone
F.H. Batacan: Comforter of the Afflicted
Charles Baxter: Fenstad's Mother; Gryphon
Peter S. Beagle: Gordon, the Self-Made Cat; Lila the Werewolf
Saul Bellow: Looking for Mr. Green
Lucia Berlin: Friends; Good and Bad; Here It Is Saturday; Homing; Mama; A Manual for Cleaning Women; Point of View; Silence; Stars and Saints; Unmanageable; Wait a Minute
Ambrose Bierce: The Damned Thing
Algernon Blackwood: The Willows
Lawrence Block: In For a Penny
Heinrich Böll: The Balek Scales
María Luisa Bombal: The Tree
Jorge Luis Borges: Rosendo's Tale
Elizabeth Bowen: Making Arrangements
Blanche McCrary Boyd: The Redneck Way of Knowledge
Ray Bradbury: The Pedestrian
Emma Bull: Joshua Tree
Dino Buzzati: The Colomber
A.S. Byatt: The Changeling; The Dried Witch; Loss of Face; The Next Room; On the Day That E.M. Forster Died; Racine and the Tablecloth; Rose-Coloured Teacups

Pat Cadigan: Nothing Personal
Barbara Callahan: Lavender Lady
Italo Calvino: Big Fish, Little Fish
Karel Čapek: The Clairvoyant
Truman Capote: A Christmas Memory
Alejo Carpentier: Journey Back to the Source
Angela Carter: Ashputtle: Or, the Mother's Ghost
Raymond Carver: What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
Willa Cather: Paul's Case
Patrick Chamoiseau: The Old Man Slave and the Mastiff
Krishan Chandar: The Soldier
John Cheever: The Country Husband; The Housebreaker of Shady Hill; The National Pastime; The Swimmer
Charles W. Chestnutt: Dave's Neckliss; The Wife of His Youth
Kate Chopin: Désirée's Baby
Agatha Christie: The Blood-Stained Pavement; The Blue Geranium; Motive v. Opportunity
Arthur C. Clarke: The Sentinel
Colette: The Other Wife
Richard Edward Connell: A Reputation
Michael Connelly: Mulholland Dive
Joseph Conrad: An Outpost of Progress
Edwin Corle: The Great Manta
Jim Crace: The Prospect from the Silver Hills
Stephen Crane: The Open Boat

Edwidge Danticat: Claire of the Sea Light; Dosas; Lélé
Lydia Davis: The House Behind
Norbert Davis: Who Said I Was Dead?
Ashley Dawson: Teenage Wasteland
RS Deeren: Enough to Lose
Miriam Allen Deford: Mortmain
Don DeLillo: Videotape
Anita Desai: Games at Twilight
Janet Desaulniers: After Rosa Parks
Isak Dinesen: The Immortal Story
Harriet Doerr: Edie: A Life
Jan J. Dominique: A White House with Pink Curtains in the Downstairs Windows
José Donoso: Paseo
Fyodor Dostoyevsky: The Heavenly Christmas Tree
Carole Nelson Douglas: Coyote Peyote
Arthur Conan Doyle: The Crooked Man; A Scandal in Bohemia; The Speckled Band
Margaret Drabble: Crossing the Alps; A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman; Hassan's Tower; The Merry Widow; A Voyage to Cythera
Andre Dubus II: Killings
Daphne du Maurier: The Blue Lenses; Monte Verità; Split Second
Andy Duncan: A Diorama of the Infernal Regions, or the Devil's Ninth Question
Sara Jeannette Duncan: A Mother in India

Deborah Eisenberg: Cross Off and Move On; The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor; Taj Mahal; Your Duck Is My Duck
Nathan Englander: The Twenty-seventh Man
Louisa Ermelino: Sister-in-Law
Dennis Etchison: It Only Comes Out at Night

William Faulkner: Tomorrow; Wash
Carolyn Ferrell: Proper Library
Janet Fitch: The Method
F. Scott Fitzgerald: Babylon Revisited
Penelope Fitzgerald: At Hiruharama
Charles M. Flandrau: A Dead Issue
Richard Ford: Optimists; Rock Springs
Ben Fountain: Rêve Haitien
Janet Frame: The Advocate; The Bath; Dossy; Insulation; Keel and Kool; Lolly-Legs; One Must Give Up; The Pictures; Prizes; The Reservoir; A Sense of Proportion; The Teacup; The Terrible Screaming; The Triumph of Poetry; Two Sheep; Two Widowers; A Windy Day; Winter Garden; You Are Now Entering the Human Heart
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman:
Dear Annie; Louisa; A Mistaken Charity; A New England Nun; A Poetess; The Revolt of "Mother"

Neil Gaiman: Bitter Grounds; How to Talk to Girls at Parties; October in the Chair; Other People
Ernest J. Gaines: The Sky is Gray
Jane Gardam: Blue Poppies
André Gide: The Return of the Prodigal Son
Michael Gilbert: The Killing of Michael Finnegan
E.S. Goldman: Earthly Justice
Nadine Gordimer: Good Climate, Friendly Inhabitants; Six Feet in the Country
Graham Greene: The Basement Room; The Destructors
João Guimarães Rosa: The Third Bank of the River
David Guterson: The Flower Garden

Dashiell Hammett: The Scorched Face
George Harrar: The 5:22
M. John Harrison: Egnaro
Francis Bret Harte: The Outcasts of Poker Flat
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Birthmark
Fumiko Hayashi: Downtown
Bessie Head: The Lovers
O. Henry: The Furnished Room
Patricia Highsmith: The Heroine
Reginald Hill: Bring Back the Cat!
Peter Høeg: Portrait of the Avant-Garde
Elisabeth Sanxay Holding: The Stranger in the Car
Pawel Huelle: Moving House
Zora Neale Hurston: Sweat
Aldous Huxley: Nuns at Luncheon

Susan Isaacs: Two Over Easy
Kazuo Ishiguro: A Family Supper

Shirley Jackson: Come Dance with Me in Ireland; The Lottery
Milly Jafta: The Home-coming
Henry James: The Middle Years
M.R. James: Casting the Runes
P.D. James: The Girl Who Loved Graveyards; Great Aunt Allie's Flypapers; Mr. Millcroft's Birthday; The Victim
Sarah Orne Jewett: The Flight of Betsey Lane; A White Heron
Matthew Johnson: Public Safety
Elizabeth Jolley: The Last Crop
Edward P. Jones: A Dark Night; The First Day
Thom Jones: Cold Snap
James Joyce: The Dead

Franz Kafka: Before the Law
Garrison Keillor: The Tip-Top Club
John Kessel: Every Angel Is Terrifying
Jamaica Kincaid: The Circling Hand; Girl
Stephen King: The Gingerbread Girl; N.; Willa
Matt Krampitz: Half Sleep
Kathe Koja: Remnants
Lowell B. Komie: The Balloon of William Fuerst

Selma Lagerlöf: The Outlaws
Ring Lardner: Haircut
David Leavitt: Territory
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
Fritz Leiber: Smoke Ghost
Doris Lessing: A Sunrise on the Veld
Torgny Lindgren: The Stump-Grubber
Kelly Link: Light; Magic for Beginners
Bill Loehfelm: Snake Hill
Jack London: To Build a Fire
Lu Hsün: The New Year's Sacrifice

John Macdonald: Nor Iron Bars
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis: Midnight Mass
Katherine Mansfield: At the Bay; The Daughters of the Late Colonel; The Garden Party; Life of Ma Parker; Miss Brill
Dambudzo Marechera: Thought Tracks in the Snow
Ngaio Marsh: Death on the Air
George R. R. Martin: Guardians; Sandkings
Bobbie Ann Mason: New-Wave Format; Shiloh; Wish
Anne Mazer: Forgotten
Gordon McAlpine: The Happiest Place
Colum McCann: Everything in This Country Must
Carson McCullers: Breath From the Sky; Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland
Dennis McFarland: Nothing to Ask For
Seanan McGuire: Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage
John McNulty: Cluney McFarrar's Hardtack
Prosper Mérimée: Mateo Falcone
David Mitchell: Judith Castle
Lorrie Moore: Willing; You're Ugly, Too
Toshio Mori: Business at Eleven
Mary Morris:
 The Lifeguard
Patt Morrison: Morocco Junction 90210
Charles Mungoshi: The Brother
Alice Munro: Dance of the Happy Shades; Day of the Butterfly; GravelLichen; Pride; A Wilderness Station
Sabina Murray: Broken Glass

R.K. Narayan: Forty-Five a Month
Njabulo S. Ndebele: The Prophetess
Helen Nielsen: Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree; A Piece of Ground
Elizabeth Nunez: Lucille

Joyce Carol Oates: The White Cat
Edna O'Brien: The Connor Girls; The Creature; The Doll; A Scandalous Woman; Tough Men
Tim O'Brien: Going After Cacciato
Flannery O'Connor: The Comforts of Home; Everything That Rises Must Converge; A Good Man is Hard to Find;
Greenleaf; The Lame Shall Enter First; Revelation; A View of the Woods
Frank O'Connor: The Drunkard; Legal Aid
Sean O'Faolain: Teresa
Mary O'Hara: My Friend Flicka
Seumas O'Kelly: Nan Hogan's House
Reggie Oliver: Puss-Cat
Tillie Olsen: I Stand Here Ironing
Anna Maria Ortese:
 A Pair of Glasses
Sembène Ousmane: Her Three Days
Cynthia Ozick: Puttermesser: Her Work History, Her Ancestry, Her Afterlife

Grace Paley: An Interest in Life
Dorothy Parker:
Arrangement in Black and White; Big Blonde; The Bolt Behind the Blue; Lolita; Too Bad; The Wonderful Old Gentleman
Alan Paton: A Drink in the Passage
Harvey Pekar: The Harvey Pekar Name Story
Jayne Anne Phillips: Souvenir
Luigi Pirandello: War
James Plunkett: Weep for Our Pride
Edgar Allan Poe: The Black Cat; The Cask of Amontillado; The Tell-Tale Heart
J.F. Powers: Prince of Darkness
Pramoedya Ananta Toer: Inem
V.S. Pritchett: The Ladder
Francine Prose: Talking Dog
Annie Proulx: Family Man; Them Old Cowboy Songs; Tits-Up in a Ditch
James Purdy:
 Mrs. Benson

Valentin Rasputin: French Lessons
Robert Reed: Like Minds
Rob Roberge: Diverters
Joanna Russ: The Little Dirty Girl

Rodney Saint-Éloi: The Blue Hill
Saki (H.H. Munro): Sredni Vashtar; The Toys of Peace
William Sansom: The Long Sheet
George Saunders: Puppy
Dorothy Sayers: The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba; The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey
John Sayles: The Halfway Diner
Susan Fromberg Schaeffer: The Priest Next Door
Budd Schulberg: Your Arkansas Traveler
Irwin Shaw: The Girls in Their Summer Dresses; The Triumph of Justice
Michael Shea: The Autopsy
Lienna Silver: Fish
Mona Simpson: Approximations
Isaac Bashevis Singer: The Lecture
Vandana Singh: Ruminations in an Alien Tongue
Antonio Skármeta: The Composition
Martin J. Smith: Dark Matter
Patricia Smith: When They Are Done With Us
Zadie Smith: The Embassy of Cambodia; Hanwell Snr
Jean Stafford: In the Zoo
Wallace Stegner: The Blue-Winged Teal
James Stephens: Schoolfellows
Susan Straight: The Golden Gopher
Theodore Sturgeon: The Silken-Swift
Graham Swift: Learning to Swim

Katai Tayama: One Soldier
Peter Taylor: The Old Forest
Melanie Rae Thon: Little White Sister
James Thurber: Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife
Karin Tidbeck: Miss Nyberg and I; Rebecka; Some Letters for Ove Lindström
Christopher Tilghman: In a Father's Place
Hannah Tinti: Home Sweet Home 
James Tiptree Jr.: The Psychologist Who Wouldn't Do Awful Things to Rats
Colm Tóibín: Donal Webster
Rose Tremain:
Eudora Welty: Death of a Traveling Salesman; Why I Live at the P.O.; A Worn Path
Donald E. Westlake: Love in the Lean Years
Edith Wharton: Autre Temps...; Mrs. Manstey's ViewThe Other Two; The Pomegranate Seed
Raoul Whitfield: Mistral
Oscar Wilde: The Devoted Friend
Joy Williams: Health; Train
Gahan Wilson:
 The Sea Was Wet as Wet Could Be
P.G. Wodehouse: The Aunt and the Sluggard; The Autograph Hunters; Bertie Changes His Mind; The Guardian; Jackson's Extra; Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest
Virginia Woolf:
Kew Gardens; Memoirs of a Novelist; The Mysterious Case of Miss V.; Solid Objects
Constance Fenimore Woolson:
 Miss Grief

Richard Yates: Liars in Love


Books and Plays

In 2011 I started reading volumes of short stories (see above). I have a backlog now of short stories I want to write about, as I've come across some great anthologies.

As for books that I've read or re-read that aren't short story anthologies…

Classics Club
Here's my reading list for the Classics Club challenge (an explanation of the challenge can be found at the link).

2019 Recommended Books
2018 Recommended Books
2014-2017 Recommended Books

2013: Recommended Books
Women's Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present (ed. Lisa Grunwald & Stephen J. Adler)
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson
A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella L. Bird
Animal Farm by George Orwell

2012: Recommended Books
Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott
The Book of Jewish Values: A Day-to-Day Guide to Ethical Living by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson
The Politics of Experience by R.D. Laing
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars ed. Andrew Carroll

2011: Recommended Books
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Camilla by Madeleine L'Engle
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Middlemarch by George Eliot
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales from Neurosurgery by Frank Vertosick Jr.


Recommended Poetry

I'm using this on-going list as a way to keep track of poems I'd like to revisit and be reminded of.

Yehuda Amichai: I Wasn’t One of the Six Million: And What Is My Life Span? Open Closed Open; Like Our Bodies' Imprint
W.H. Auden: Musée des Beaux Arts

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Amy's Cruelty; A DenialThe Lady's "Yes"; Question and AnswerSonnets I, V, VI, VIII, X, XIV, XVI, XVIII, XXII, XXIV, XXVI, XXIX, XXXII, XXXIX, XLI; Weariness
Wendell Berry: The Peace of Wild Things
Elizabeth Bishop: At the Fishhouses; One Art; Seascape
Gwendolyn Brooks: kitchenette building

Lewis Carroll: Epilogue to Through the Looking Glass; The Jabberwocky
Raymond Carver: Bonnard's Nudes; The Scratch
e.e. cummings: somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond

Emily Dickinson: I died for beauty, but was scarce; I'm Nobody! Who are you?; Success is counted sweetest; Tell all the Truth but tell it slant; There's a certain Slant of light; To fight aloud is very brave
John Donne: The Good-Morrow

T.S. Eliot: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Robert Frost: Fragmentary Blue; Reluctance

Jack Hayes: Raintown poems

Dick Jones: Under Blue Anchor

Julia Kasdorf: First Gestures
John Keats: This Living Hand
Galway Kinnell: Blackberry Eating; Saint Francis and the Sow

Li-Young Lee: From Blossoms
Carmen Leone: Falling

Gabriela Mistral: Serene Words
Marianne Moore: Poetry
Lisel Mueller: Romantics

Mary Oliver: Walking to Oak-Head Pond, and Thinking of the Ponds I Will Visit in the Next Days and Weeks; When Death Comes
Wilfred Owen: Dulce et Decorum est

Dorothy Parker: Resumé
Marge Piercy: To be of use
Jack Prelutsky: Bleezer's Ice Cream

Adrienne Rich: For the Dead; From a Survivor; The Trees; What Kind of Times Are These
Rainer Maria Rilke: The Panther
E.A. Robinson: Richard Cory
Theodore Roethke: In a Dark Time

May Sarton: A Light Left On
Joan Siegel: Travel Directions
Anne Spencer: Translation
William Stafford: The Gift; Scars; You Reading This, Be Ready
Wallace Stevens: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Mark Strand: Keeping Things Whole
Wislawa Szymborska: A Word on Statistics (translator: Joanna Trzeciak)

John Tagliabue: The Bare Arms of Trees
Dylan Thomas: Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Walt Whitman: A Noiseless Patient Spider
Richard Wilbur: Love Calls Us to the Things of This World; The Writer
C.K. Williams: The Dance
William Carlos Williams: Danse Russe
Robley Wilson: I Wish in the City of Your Heart

William Butler Yeats: When You Are Old