Another “100 Books” List

On Facebook, from time to time, I see these lists go around with titles like “100 Books Everyone Must Read.” When I go through them, depending on the subject and selections, I’ve usually read between about 20 and 50 of the 100. In the spirit of wondering who creates those lists, I made my own: “100 Works I Would Like for More People to Read.” I thought it appropriate to publish it on Black Friday, as so many people are heading out to do their Christmas shopping today and over the coming weeks.

Some are full-length books, but not all. Some are entertaining and fun, others are definitely not; some are sacred and spiritual, others are quite profane; some are Western canonical, others distinctly global. Some will please you, some will reinforce your ideas about life, most will challenge you, and a few will offend you. I don’t agree with everything in all of these books, but I will say that if you were to read – actually read – these 100 books, stories, essays, and poems with an open mind, your views on life, society, religion, culture and human nature would never be the same.

  1. The four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Holy Bible
  2. The Acts of the Apostles in the Holy Bible
  3. the most expansive major history of the state where you live
  4. Cultural Democracy by James Bau Graves
  5. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
  6. Still Life with Oysters and Lemon by Mark Doty
  7. For the Time Being by Annie Dillard
  8. slave narratives from Library of Congress’s American Memory project
  9. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  10. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  11. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  12. Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks
  13. Class Politics by Stephen Parks
  14. The Elements of Style by Will Strunk and EB White
  15. On Writing Well by William Zinsser
  16. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  17. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  18. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  19. Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  20. The Mind of the South by WJ Cash
  21. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  22. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  23. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  24. “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” by Langston Hughes (essay)
  25. One Big Self: An Investigation by CD Wright
  26. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  27. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  28. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  29. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  30. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  31. Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan
  32. A History of the African American People (Proposed) by Strom Thurmond by Percival Everett and James Kincaid
  33. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare by Henry Miller
  34. Tripmaster Monkey by Maxine Hong Kingston
  35. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
  36. The Politics of Psychopharmacology by Timothy Leary
  37. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  38. The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac
  39. Book of the Unknown by Jonathon Keats
  40. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  41. No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre (one-act play)
  42. Right You Are, If You Think You Are by Luigi Pirandello
  43. A Walk with Love and Death by Hans Koning
  44. Train Whistle Guitar by Albert Murray
  45. The Long Haul by Myles Horton
  46. “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold (poem)
  47.  “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg (poem)
  48. Black Boy by Richard Wright
  49. Forty Acres and a Goat by Will D. Campbell
  50. Blindness by Jose Saramago
  51. “Earthquake in Chile” by Heinrich von Kleist (short story)
  52. The Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon
  53. Miguel Street by VS Naipaul
  54. Revolt of the Cockroach People by Oscar Zeta Acosta
  55. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  56. The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo
  57. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel
  58. The Buddha of Suburbia by Haneif Kureishi
  59. Blue Highways by William Least-Heat Moon
  60. John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead
  61. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  62. . . . And the Earth Did Not Devour Him by Tomás Rivera
  63. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  64. Working by Studs Terkel (interviews)
  65. Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
  66. Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson
  67. “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath (poem)
  68. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  69. “To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick (poem)
  70. “Poetry and Commitment” by Adrienne Rich (essay)
  71. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
  72. “Yellow Light” by Garrett Hongo (poem)
  73. “Poem for the Young White Man who asked me how I, an intelligent well-read person, could believe in the War Between Races” by Lorna Dee Cervantes (poem)
  74. Dispatches by Michael Herr
  75. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
  76. Essays in Idleness by Kenko
  77. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” by Audre Lorde (essay)
  78. “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  79. The Piano Lesson by August Wilson
  80. Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson
  81. Fences by August Wilson
  82. Boy Genius by Yongsoo Park
  83. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
  84. A Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill
  85. The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry edited by Stephen Mitchell
  86. Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith
  87. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  88. Living Poor by Moritz Thomsen
  89. Road Scholar by Andrei Codrescu
  90. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  91. The Rainbow by DH Lawrence
  92. Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky 
  93. Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf, poems by Ryokan
  94. All My Sons by Arthur Miller
  95.  “If We Must Die” by Claude McKay (poem)
  96. The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry
  97. Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney
  98. “Advice” by Rodney Jones (poem)
  99. Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee
  100. Wolf: A False Memoir by Jim Harrison

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