Reading List


I had the good fortune this week of delivering a talk at the Muhlenberg College Board of Associates Meeting on the topic of Great Books.  I spoke with the audience for about 20-25 minutes about what I consider to be great books and why they matter. The main argument I made about the importance of books is that they connect us as people.  I am an unreserved humanist; I believe that human beings have the power to improve themselves, that education is crucial to develop of an informed  society, and that books allow readers to experience the worlds of others.

The audience was one of professionals from many fields but very few English Literature majors; however, their interest in reading and books was heartening for me.  They wanted to hear suggestions about what books I would recommend.

In my classes, I sometimes do something I call — Chuck’s recommended readings.  I ask the students to write the title and author and then tell them that what they do with that information is entirely up to them.  Since several of the attendees of this talk asked for further suggestions, I decided to put together a list, very abbreviated I admit, of books I would recommend.  Some of them I consider among the best and most important books ever written, and some I simply found to be wonderful and entertaining.

Now, the list:

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings
Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

Brown, Larry. Fay.

Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote.

Delaney, Frank. Ireland.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods.

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier of the Great War.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Pacific and Other Stories.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Homer. The Iliad.

. . . . . . . The Odyssey.

King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stand.

Lee, Harper.  To Kill A Mockingbird.

Poe, Edgar Allan.  Complete Works.

Rice, Anne. Interview With the Vampire.

Rowling, J. K. The entire Harry Potter series.

Shakespeare, William. The Collected Works.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.

I am certain there are many books I have forgotten to mention.  This is neither intended to be all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be authoritarian.  I hope that someone may find a book or books from this list, read them, and enjoy them.

Happy reading!bookshelvesmagic

33 thoughts on “Reading List

  1. So many books on the list I haven’t got around to reading yet – and so many that have been on my TBR list for years. Perhaps it’s time I got round to some of them. Thanks for the reminder, Charles. Great list (although I might give Harry Potter a miss).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A dear friend told me when we first met that the first thing he notices when he enters someone’s home for the first time is what is on the book shelves. I grinned from the inside out. A kindred spirit! I’ve read more than a few from that list and I would hate to have to come up with one of my own sure that I would forget important ones. What matters most is to keep reading.
    I just started Faust and found two more books arrived while I was out…
    How is your TBR pile and what are you currently enjoying?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on A Teacher's Reflections and commented:
    Language and literacy and reading, and reading aloud; this is the most important thing I teach in my preschool class, and my fellow blogger, a college English professor, has it nailed. In his own words regarding books, “they connect us as people”. I’ll bet he reads aloud to his students! It doesn’t matter if it’s preschool or college; growing readers and learning begins with good books. This is not only a testament to reading, but a list of his favorite books. Please read this terrific blog. I wish I had been a fly on the wall at his speech!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful list! Several are new to me, but I’ll be checking them out. I work at a library and read quite a variety of books. If I were to make my own favorites list, I would probably include a few children’s books, since there are so many I love, such as Miss Rumphius, or The War That Saved My Life.


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