MA reading list

I’m studying for a Masters Degree in Writing.

My reading list is based on the Observer’s ‘100 Greatest Novels of All Time’. Obviously, developing as a writer is dependent on wide and deep reading − not just the kind of thing you’d like to write, but a vast cross-section of what literary history has judged to be good.The university is encouraging us to get back to the sources as well as reading the immediately contemporary.

This list is the kind of broad foundation any novelist should have. We are being encouraged to read according to our interests, and then beyond them.

Studying the MA means I now have to prioritise reading, which is what I am so excited about. I’m looking forward to discovering new writers, re-reading old favourites and having long days dedicated just to reading. I can’t wait to get started.

  • The Odyssey Homer
  • Gargantua and Pantagruel Francois Rabelais
  • Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes
  • Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan
  • Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
  • Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift
  • Tom Jones Henry Fielding
  • Clarissa Samuel Richardson
  • Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne
  • Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
  • Emma Jane Austen
  • Frankenstein Mary Shelley
  • Confessions of an English Opium Eater Thomas de Quincey
  • The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
  • Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
  • Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
  • The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Moby-Dick Herman Melville
  • Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
  • Little Women Louisa M. Alcott
  • The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope
  •  Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
  • The Innocents Abroad Mark Twain
  • Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
  • The Diary of a Nobody George Grossmith
  • Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
  • In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust
  • The Rainbow D. H. Lawrence
  • The Good Soldier Ford Madox Ford
  • Ulysses James Joyce
  • Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf
  • A Passage to India E. M. Forster
  • The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Trial Franz Kafka
  • The Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemingway
  • Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Celine
  • As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
  • Brave New World Aldous Huxley
  • Scoop Evelyn Waugh
  • USA John Dos Passos
  • Tropic of Cancer Henry Miller 
  • The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler
  • The Pursuit of Love Nancy Mitford
  • The Plague Albert Camus
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
  • Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
  • Wise Blood Flannery O’Connor
  • Charlotte’s Web E. B. White
  • Lucky Jim Kingsley Amis
  • Lord of the Flies William Golding
  • The Quiet American Graham Greene
  • Live and Let Die Ian Fleming
  • Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
  • Inside Mr Enderby / Enderby Outside Anthony Burgess
  • Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark
  • To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
  • Catch-22 Joseph Heller
  • Herzog Saul Bellow
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy John Le Carre
  • Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
  • The Bottle Factory Outing Beryl Bainbridge
  • The Executioner’s Song Norman Mailer
  • If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller Italo Calvino
  • Waiting for the Barbarians J.M. Coetzee
  • Housekeeping Marilynne Robinson
  • Lanark Alasdair Gray
  • The New York Trilogy Paul Auster
  • The BFG Roald Dahl
  • Slaughterhouse 5 Kurt Vonnegut 
  • If this is a Man Primo Levi
  • Money Martin Amis
  • An Artist of the Floating World Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Oscar and Lucinda Peter Carey
  • The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Milan Kundera.
  • Haroun and the Sea af Stories Salman Rushdie
  • LA Confidential James Ellroy
  • Wise Children Angela Carter
  • The Name of the Rose Umberto Eco
  • Northern Lights Philip Pullman
  • American Pastoral Philip Roth
  • Austerlitz W. G. Sebald
  • Road Dogs (or any other title) Elmore Leonard



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