Reading Guide

Context N°12

We asked our academic advisors to name which literary works all students should read. The following list of their responses is run annually to introduce new readers to the aesthetic tradition that CONTEXT supports.

Literary Works All Students Should Read

The Koran
The Mahabarata
The Bible
Blood and Guts in High School, Kathy Acker
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Edward Albee
Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, Jorge Amado
Poetics, Aristotle
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
The Collected Stories, Isaac Babel
Lost in the Funhouse, John Barth
Malone Dies, Samuel Beckett
Molloy, Samuel Beckett
The Unnamable, Samuel Beckett
Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
The Lime Works, Thomas Bernhard
The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio
Labyrinths, Jorge Luis Borges
Mother Courage, Bertold Brecht
The Death of Virgil, Hermann Bröch
Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
Cosmicomics, Italo Calvino
The Plague, Albert Camus
Journey to the End of the Night, Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Don Quixote, Cervantes
The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
Hopscotch, Julio Cortázar
The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane
The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
Because I Was Flesh, Edward Dahlberg
Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe
White Noise, Don DeLillo
Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens
USA Trilogy, John Dos Passos
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. DuBois
Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot
The Waste Land, T. S. Eliot
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
Medea, Euripides
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
Tom Jones, Henry Fielding
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Bouvard and Pécuchet, Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
The Good Soldier, Ford Madox Ford
Terra Nostra, Carlos Fuentes
JR, William Gaddis
The Recognitions, William Gaddis
The Tunnel, William H. Gass
Kaddish, Allen Ginsberg
The Empire City, Paul Goodman
Lanark, Alasdair Gray
Back, Henry Green
Concluding, Henry Green
The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene
Second Skin, John Hawkes
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
The Illiad, Homer
The Odyssey, Homer
Point Counter Point, Aldous Huxley
Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novels, Henry James
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
Ulysses, James Joyce
The Castle, Franz Kafka
The Trial, Franz Kafka
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Women in Love, D. H. Lawrence
The Apes of God, Wyndham Lewis
Under the Volcano, Malcolm Low
The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann
Moby-Dick, Herman Melville
The Confidence-Man, Herman Melville
Paradise Lost, John Milton
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Impossible Object, Nicholas Mosley
Lolita, Vladmir Nabokov
At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O’Brien
Collected Prose, Charles Olson
The Maximus Poems, Charles Olson
The Iceman Cometh, Eugene O’Neill
Metamorphoses, Ovid
Life: A User’s Manual, Georges Perec
The Satyricon, Petronius
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Symposium, Plato
Selected Writing of Edgar Allen Poe
Cantos, Ezra Pound
Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust
Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Manuel Puig
Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon
The Bark Tree, Raymond Queneau
Poems, 1918–1975: The Complete Poems of Charles Reznikoff
After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie, Jean Rhys
Good Morning, Midnight, Jean Rhys
Gargantua and Pantagruel, Rabelais
Jealousy, Alain Robbe-Grillet
Nine Stories, J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre
The Complete Poems, Anne Sexton
Hamlet, William Shakespeare
King Lear, William Shakespeare
Macbeth, William Shakespeare
The Tempest, William Shakespeare
Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko
Oedipus the King, Sophocles
Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things, Gilbert Sorrentino
The Road, Wole Soyinka
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein
The Red and the Black, Stendhal
Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne
Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift
The Playboy of the Western World, J. M. Synge
Walden, Henry David Thoreau
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
The Aeneid, Virgil
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
A Handful of Dust, Evelyn Waugh
Miss Lonelyhearts, Nathaniel West
Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
The Great American Novel, William Carlos Williams
Imaginations, William Carlos Williams
Paterson, William Carlos Williams
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
The Prelude, William Wordsworth
Collected Poems, W. B. Yeats

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