Recommended Reading List

Many of my workshop students ask for my book recommendations. I always give them this list as a place to start.

Short Stories

  • A&P, by John Updike
  • A Good Man Is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor
  • The State We’re In, by Anne Beattie (collection)
  • Why I Live at the P.O., by Eudora Welty
  • Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang (collection)
  • Say You’re One of Them, by Uwem Akpan (collection)
  • Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri (collection)
  • Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson (collection)
  • People Like That Are the Only People Here, by Lorrie Moore
  • The News from Spain, by Joan Wickersham (collection)

Narrative Nonfiction

  • Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay
  • Little Chapel on the River, by Gwendolyn Bounds
  • A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson
  • Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  • The Art of Eating, by M.F.K. Fisher
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris (or anything by David Sedaris)
  • The Thurber Carnival, by James Thurber



  • All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by Dave Wroblewski
  • The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  • The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler (or anything by Anne Tyler)


  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene
  • Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  • Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Writing Reference

  • Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
  • On Writing, by Stephen King
  • Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg
  • The Getaway Car, by Ann Patchett
  • Reading Like a Writer, by Francine Prose
  • The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron

What would you add to the list?

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Henry David Thoreau

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