Favorite Novels and Works of Nonfiction

Here is a list of some of my favorite novels, book-length nonfiction works, and short stories. These are books that have stayed with me, haunted me, significantly influenced my thinking. Each one is an outstanding read. The list is by no means comprehensive. It’s a taste-testing. I imagine that you will find some old friends here and a few new things that will fascinate you. I will post separate lists of favorite poems and films at another time. I’m sure that there are works important to me that I’ve left off this list.


Adams, Douglas. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio
Anonymous. The Book of Taliesin
Borges, Jorge Luis. Ficciones.
Boyle, T.C. Stories
Boyle, T.C. Tortilla Curtain
Bradbury, Ray. The Illustrated Man
Brautigan, Richard. Trout Fishing in America
Brautigan, Richard. In Watermelon Sugar
Bronte, Charlotte. Wuthering Heights
Chiang, Ted. Stories of Your Lives and Others.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness.
Dick, Phillip K. The Man in the High Castle
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations
Dostoevsky, Feodor. The Brothers Karamazov
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying
Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary
Franzen, Jonathan. Purity
Franzen, Jonathan. The Corrections
Fridlund, Emily. History of Wolves
Gaiman, Neil. Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
Gaiman, Neil. Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
Goldstein, Rebecca. Strange Attractors
Goldstein, Rebecca. The Mind-Body Problem
Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
Hemingway, Ernest. Collected Short Stories.
Herbert, Frank, Dune
Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha
Jarrell, Randall. The Bat Poet
Joyce, James. Ulysses (This one requires a guide. LOL.)
Levin, Ira. Rosemary’s Baby
Liu, Cixen. Remembrance of Earth’s Past (trilogy)
Martel, Yann. Life of Pi
Matthews, Jason. Red Sparrow
Melville, Herman. Moby Dick
Miller, Jr., Walter. A Canticle for Liebowitz
Niffenegger, Audrey. The Time Traveler’s Wife
Orwell, George. 1984
Preston, Douglas. Blasphemy
Quinn, Daniel. Ishmael: An Adventure of Mind and Spirit
Ravitch, Diane. Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms
Remarque, Eric Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front.
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.
Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina
Tolstoy, Leo. War and Peace (tied with Grapes of Wrath, Johnny Got His Gun, and Moby Dick for best novel ever, in my mind)
Twain, Mark. Huckleberry Finn
Vonnegut, Kurt. Cat’s Cradle.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five.
Winterson, Jeanette. Written on the Body


Anonymous. The Chandogya Upanishad.
Ali, Ayaan Hirsi. Infidel
Bekoff, Mark. The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy and Why They Matter
Berry, Wendell. Life Is a Miracle
Black, Edwin. War against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race
Braithwaite, Victoria. Do Fish Feel Pain?
Brooks, Cleanth. The Well-Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry
Bryson, Bill. A Walk in the Woods
Buck, William, trans. The Ramayana
Butler, Smedley. War Is a Racket
Calasso, Roberto. The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony
Castaneda, Carlos. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
Child, Francis James. The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
Cohn, Norman. Europe’s Inner Demons
Cohn, Norman. The Pursuit of the Millennium
Davis, Norman. The Isles
De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex
De Mente, Boye Lafayette. Japan’s Cultural Code Words
De Montaigne, Michel. Essays. Trans. John Florio
Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel
Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Eastman, Charles (Oheyesa). The Soul of the Indian
Ehrman, Bart. Early Christianities
Ehrman, Bart. The New Testament
Einstein, Albert. Ideas and Opinions
Eisnitz, Gail. Slaughterhouse.
Eliade, Mircea. Yoga
Emerson, Ralph. Essays
Empson, William: Seven Types of Ambiguity
Evernden, Neil. The Natural Alien: Humankind and the Environment.
Flanagan, Dennis. Flanagan’s Version
Frazer, James George. The Golden Bough
Fry, Paul H. Theory of Literature
Gospel of Thomas, The
Graves, Robert. The White Goddess
Gleick, James. Isaac Newton
Greenblatt, Stephen. Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics
Guillermoprieto, Alma. Samba: The Making of Brazilian Carnival
Gullberg, Jan. Mathematics from the Birth of Numbers
Hayes, Christine. Introduction to the Bible
Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time
Hoffman, Donald. Visual Intelligence: How We create What We See
Huxley, Aldous. The Doors of Perception
Infeld, Leopold, and Albert Einstein. The Evolution of Physics
Jablonka, Eva. Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life
Jaynes, Julian. The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
Jensen, Derrick. Strangely Like War: The Global Assault on Forests
Jensen, Derrick. Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control
Jonas, Hans. The Gnostic Religions
Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild
Lakoff, George. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind
Landmark Herodotus, The. Ed. Strassler, Robert
Lewis-Williams, David, and David Pearce. Inside the Neolithic Mind.
Mackay, Charlles. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
Maslow, Ian. Russia
McKenna, Terence. Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution
Monbiot, George. Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding
Nagel, Thomas. The View from Nowhere
Neihardt, John. Black Elk Speaks
Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Norman, Donald. The Psychology of Everyday Things
Orwell, George. Politics and the English Language and Other Essays
Plato. Phaedrus
Pollan, Michael. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
Pollan, Michael. The Botany of Desire
Rachels, James. Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism
Radford, Andrew. Syntactic Theory and the Structure of English
Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice
Regan, Tom. The Case for Animal Rights
Reel, Monte. A Brotherhood of Spies: The U-2 and the CIA’s Secret War
Roughgarden, Joan. Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People
Roy, Jennifer. Yellow Star
Russell, Bertrand. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell. Ed. Egner, Robert E., and Lester E. Denonn
Ryan, Christopher, and Cacilda Jetha. Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
Sartre, Jean-Paul. Being and Nothingness
Schlosser, Eric. Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
Schwitzgebel, Eric. Perplexities of Consciousness
Silver, Brian L. The Ascent of Science
Simon, Herbert. The Sciences of the Artificial
Steiner, George. Language and Silence
Straussman, Rick. DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experience
Thompson, Stith. The Folktale
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden
Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Wright, Lawrence. Remembering Satan: A Tragic Case of Recovered Memory
Wright, Lawrence. The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
Wright, Lawrence. Saints and Sinners
Wright, Ronald. Stolen Continents: The Americas through Indian Eyes Since 1492
Yamakage, Motohisa. The Essence of Shinto


Asimov, Isaac. “The Last Question”
Atwood, Margaret. “Bread”
Benet, Stephen Vincent. “By the Waters of Babylon”
Bierce, Ambrose. “Chickamauga”
Bierce, Ambrose. “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”
Borges, Jorge Luis, “The Library of Babel”
Bostrom, Nick. “The Dragon Tyrant”
Bradbury Ray. “The Veldt”
Bradbury, Ray. “The End of the World”
Bradbury,. Ray. “There Will Come Soft Rains”
Chiang, Ted. “Stories of Our Lives”
Chopin, Kate. “Story of an Hour”
Crane, Stephen. “A Mystery of Heroism”
Du Maurier, Daphne. “The Birds”
Faulkner, William. “The Bear”
Gallico, Paul. “The Snowgoose”
Goldstein, Rebecca. “The Legacy of Raizel Kaidish”
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Rappaccini’s Daughter”
Hathorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown”
Hemingway, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants”
Hemingway, Ernest. “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”
Hemingway, Ernest. “The Long Wait”
Liu, Ken. “An Advanced Readers’ Picture Book of Comparative Cognition”
Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery”
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”
O’Conner, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”
Olsen, Tillie. “Tell Me a Riddle”
Roth, Phillip. “The Conversion of the Jews”
Thurber, James. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
Tolstoy, Leo. “The Life and Death of Ivan Illych”
Updike, John. “A & P”
Updike, John. “The Music School”
Vonnegut, Kurt. “Who Am I This Time?”
Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use”

About Bob Shepherd

interests: curriculum design, educational technology, learning, linguistics, hermeneutics, rhetoric, philosophy (Continental philosophy, Existentialism, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, ethics), classical and jazz guitar, poetry, the short story, archaeology and cultural anthropology, history of religion, prehistory, veganism, sustainability, Anglo-Saxon literature and language, systems for emergent quality control, heuristics for innovation
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