My friend (and fellow writer) Cornelia Dolian challenged me to come up with a list of the 10 most important works of fiction for writers. Well, she claims to be my friend, but anyone who gives out an assignment like this is clearly a sadist.
In order to maintain some semblance of sanity while doing this, I assumed that my target writers were Americans writing in English, and would benefit the most from American fiction. I’ve also only listed books that I’ve actually read.
Within those bounds, I tried to include works that are indicative of the range of American fiction. And it was still really, really hard to get to 10. It would have been hard to get to 50. Also, I don’t care that No. 1 on the list is a memoir. It’s one of the most important stories in American history, so deal with it.
So without further ado, my 10 best works of fiction for writers (OK, and one memoir):
- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass (1845)
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
- Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)
- The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)
- Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, (1937)
- A Good Man Is Hard to Find or Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor (1955, 1965)
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1962)
- The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (1969)
Got your own list? I’d love to see it. And Cornelia’s also asked Twitter, so if you follow her there, you can see all the answers.