My motto in life.
My motto in life.

I’m an English Lit grad student. I want to be a college professor if and when I ever decide to grow up. Basically, this means I get to read awesome books and write things for a living, which makes me extremely happy. What I’ve discovered, ever since coming to the Dark Side and becoming an English student, is that the reading I do for fun and/or for classes (usually they’re one and the same) actually help me with my creative writing. Like a true academic, I have thus taken to referring to my reading as “research,” whether or not it has a direct bearing on whatever I happen to be writing at the time. The different styles and approaches of the works I read give me fresh ideas for future writing projects. Frequently I come across phrases or descriptions that strike me as interesting, and they influence areas of my story. In other words, when I’m working on writing projects, I make a point of reading as many books as I can – no rhyme or reason to the selection thereof (unless I’m doing REAL research), just books I’m interested in. And I’m often surprised at the cool stuff that shows up in my own stories as a result. A few months ago, I put together a list of books I need to read that I will pick up while I’m working on projects. And believe me, some pretty awesome writing is happening as a result πŸ˜€ So, I’m going to share my list with y’all. Any works anyone would recommend that I add?


Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe (Finished)
Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie (Finished)
The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka (Dreadfully dull, but I’m going to read it anyway)
1984 – George Orwell (Finished)
The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
White Noise – Don Delillo
The Art of War – Sun Tzu
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Beyond Good and Evil – Nietzsche
Foucault’s Pendulum –Umberto Eco
The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett (In Progress)
The Gambler – Dostoevsky
The Idiot – Dostoevsky
Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John le CarrΓ©
The Tale of Genji – Lady Murasaki
The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller (In Progress)
Dr. Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
100 Years of Solitude – Marquez
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
Lady Chatterly’s Lover – Anthony Trollope
The Beautiful and Damned – F Scott Fitzgerald
The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne
War of the Worlds – HG Wells (Read this 13 years ago – need to read again)
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (put me to sleep on the last attempt, so I’m going to try it again)
The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
Middlemarch – George Eliot
The Man Who was Thursday – GK Chesterton (In Progress)
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
Beloved – Toni Morrison
2001: a Space Odyssey – Arthur Clark
Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Allan Quatermain – H Rider Haggard
Blythedale Romance – Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner (Also have to read for an American Modernism class)
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
The Awakening – Kate Chopin
The Man in the Iron Mask – Alexandre Dumas (read 13 years ago – time for another go through)
The Prisoner of Zenda – Anthony Hope
Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Vanity Fair – William Thackeray

5 thoughts on “Pleasure Reading as “Research”

  1. If you think of something as “dreadfully dull”, I don’t recommend reading it.
    Being forced through Mann’e “Loyal Subject” in school gave me a lasting dislike of the writer. On the other hand, Maugham’s “Cakes and Ale”, picked up with no great expectations when there was nothing else to read made me laugh out loud. Few books have left a greater impression on me.
    Literature needs to be enjoyed to be appreciated – and loved.

  2. A Tale of Two Cites–Charles Dickens; The Picture of Dorian Gray– Oscar Wilde; Les Miserables–Victor Hugo-Just to name a few. I am rereading The Picture of Dorian Gray now. My favorite is A Tale of Two Cities, everyone should read that one. πŸ™‚ Best of luck in your studies!!

    1. Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my all-time favorite novels – I’ve read it 5 or 6 times. Oscar Wilde is brilliant. I love the other two suggestions as well, although it has been a few years since I read Tale of Two Cities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s