My Quest to Enjoy Reading Again

by Rachel Baker on September 25, 2014

Yesterday, I wrote about my reading slump. I think part of my problem is my reading has become stagnant. For a few months, I’ve felt like there’s nothing new that isn’t exactly written to “the formula” for the genre I’m reading. Then I think about all books that have or are becoming movies; and I’m almost disgusted. People – those are called scripts, not books. And many of these books are written almost as if there’s a movie in mind. It seems a large portion become best sellers as soon as movie rights have been purchased.

My disenchantment with books and reading is palpable – I feel the desire to boycott Amazon – not really because of the crap between them and the publishers, but because the ranking system at Amazon is part of the problem with people thinking a book is a bestseller when all the author did was follow the most basic of formulas. But then I figure, why should I boycott Amazon for being really good at what they do – which is to (sometimes) sell books.

I think I went over the edge when everyone figured out Robert Galbraith was actually J.K. Rowling; and all of a sudden the Robert Galbraith books were best sellers and EVERYONE was talking about them. uh…seriously? They didn’t appear to be best sellers until there was name recognition.

So, I’ve made a decision. I am going to read every book Stephen King has recommended in his On Writing book and on his social media page for 2013. Below is the list, and I’ve read a good bit of them, but I’m going to read them again. I will read these books for pleasure, not to review them. I may write about what I got from the book, but I’m not going to review them in the traditional sense. I just want to read, and let the beauty of the book come naturally. Because, I think after seven years of reviewing books, I’ve forgotten how to just enjoy a book.

Without Further Ado, here are the books by years that Stephen King read. These lists of 200 books total were found in his book On Writing, and at Aerogramme Writers’ Studio


1. Peter Abrahams, A Perfect Crime
2. Peter Abrahams, Lights Out
3. Peter Abrahams, Pressure Drop
4. Peter Abrahams,Revolution #9
5. James Agee, A Death in the Family
6. Kirsten Bakis, Lives of the Monster Dogs
7. Pat Barker, Regeneration
8. Pat Barker, The Eye in the Door
9. Pat Barker, The Ghost Road
10. Richard Bausch, In the Night Season
11. Peter Blauner, The Intruder
12. Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky
13. T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Tortilla Curtain
14. Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods
15. Christopher Buckley, Thank You for Smoking
16. Raymond Carver, Where I’m Calling From
17. Michael Chabon, Werewolves in Their Youth
18. Windsor Chorlton, Latitude Zero
19. Michael Connelly, The Poet
20. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Free eBook – Gutenberg / Kindle)
21. K.C. Constantine, Family Values
22. Don DeLillo, Underworld
23. Nelson DeMille, Cathedral
24. Nelson DeMille, The Gold Coast
25. Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (Free eBook – Gutenberg / Kindle)
26. Stephen Dobyns, Common Carnage
27. Stephen Dobyns, The Church of Dead Girls
28. Roddy Doyle, The Woman Who Walked into Doors
29. Stanely Elkin, The Dick Gibson Show
30. William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
31. Alex Garland, The Beach
32. Elizabeth George, Deception on His Mind
33. Tess Gerritsen, Gravity
34. William Golding, Lord of the Flies
35. Muriel Gray, Furnace
36. Graham Greene, A Gun for Sale (aka This Gun for Hire)
37. Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana
38. David Halberstam, The Fifties
39. Pete Hamill, Why Sinatra Matters
40. Thomas Harris, Hannibal
41. Kent Haruf, Plainsong
42. Peter Hoeg, Smilla’s Sense of Snow
43. Stephen Hunter, Dirty White Boys
44. David Ignatius, A Firing Offense
45. John Irving, A Widow for One Year
46. Graham Joyce, The Tooth Fairy
47. Alan Judd, The Devil’s Own Work
48. Roger Kahn, Good Enough to Dream
49. Mary Karr, The Liars’ Club
50. Jack Ketchum, Right to Life
51. Tabitha King, Survivor
52. Tabitha King, The Sky in the Water
53. Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
54. Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air
55. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
56. Bernard Lefkowitz, Our Guys
57. Bentley Little, The Ignored
58. Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
59. W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence (Free eBook – Gutenberg)
60. Cormac McCarthy, Cities of the Plain
61. Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing
62. Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes
63. Alice McDermott, Charming Billy
64. Jack McDevitt, Ancient Shores
65. Ian McEwan, Enduring Love
66. Ian McEwan, The Cement Garden
67. Larry McMurtry, Dead Man’s Walk
68. Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Zeke and Ned
69. Walter M. Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz
70. Joyce Carol Oates, Zombie
71. Tim O’Brien, In the Lake of the Woods
72. Stewart O’Nan, The Speed Queen
73. Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
74. Richard North Patterson, No Safe Place
75. Richard Price, Freedomland
76. Annie Proulx, Close Range: Wyoming Stories
77. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News
78. Anna Quindlen, One True Thing
79. Ruth Rendell, A Sight for Sore Eyes
80. Frank M. Robinson, Waiting
81. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
82. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban
83. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
84. Richard Russo, Mohawk
85. John Burnham Schwartz, Reservation Road
86. Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
87. Irwin Shaw, The Young Lions
88. Richard Slotkin, The Crater
89. Dinitia Smith, The Illusionist
90. Scott Spencer, Men in Black
91. Wallace Stegner, Joe Hill
92. Donna Tartt, The Secret History
93. Anne Tyler, A Patchwork Planet
94. Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus
95. Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
96. Donald Westlake, The Ax

Between 2001-2009
1. Peter Abrahams, End of Story
2. Peter Abrahams, The Tutor
3. Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
4. Kate Atkinson, One Good Turn
5. Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
6. Mischa Berlinski, Fieldwork
7. Benjamin Black [pseudo.], Christine Falls
8. Peter Blauner, The Last Good Day
9. Roberto Bolaño, 2666
10. David Carr, The Night of the Gun
11. John Casey, Spartina
12. Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
13. Lee Child, The Jack Reacher novels, starting with Killing Floor
14. Michael Connelly, The Narrows
15. Mark Costello, Big If
16. Michael Cunningham, The Hours
17. Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
18. Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
19. Richard Dooling, White Man’s Grave
20. David Downing, Zoo Station
21. Andre Dubus, The Garden of Last Days
22. Leif Enger, Peace Like a River
23. Frederick Exley, A Fan’s Notes
24. Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End
25. Jonathan Franzen, Strong Motion
26. Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections
27. Neil Gaiman, American Gods
28. Meg Gardiner, Crosscut
29. Meg Gardiner, The Dirty Secrets Club
30. William Gay, The Long Home
31. Robert Goddard, Painting the Darkness
32. Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants
33. Steven Hall, The Raw Shark Texts
34. Mark Helprin, A Soldier of the Great War
35. Charlie Huston, The Hank Thompson Trilogy
36. Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke
37. Garrison Keillor (ed), Good Poems
38. Sue Monk Kid, The Secret Life of Bees
39. Chuck Klosterman, Fargo Rock City
40. Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
41. John le Carré, Absolute Friends
42. Dennis Lehane, The Given Day
43. Elmore Leonard, Up in Honey’s Room
44. Jonathan Letham, The Fortress of Solitude
45. Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know
46. Bentley Little, Dispatch
47. Bernard Malamud, The Fixer
48. Yann Martel, Life of Pi
49. Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men
50. Ian McEwan, Atonement
51. James Meek, The People’s Act of Love
52. Audrey Niffenegger, Her Fearful Symmetry
53. Patrick O’Brian, The Aubrey/Maturin Novels
54. Stewart O’Nan, The Good Wife
55. Joyce Carol Oates, We Were the Mulvaneys
56. George Pelecanos, Hard Revolution
57. George Pelecanos, The Turnaround
58. Tom Perrotta, The Abstinence Teacher
59. Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes
60. DBC Pierre, Vernon Little God
61. Annie Proulx, Fine Just the Way It Is
62. Michael Robotham, Shatter
63. Philip Roth, American Pastoral
64. Philip Roth, The Plot Against America
65. Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
66. Richard Russo, Bridge of Sighs
67. Richard Russo, Empire Falls
68. Dan Simmons, Drood
69. Dan Simmons, The Terror
70. Curtis Sittenfeld, American Wife
71. Tom Rob Smith, Child 44
72. Scott Snyder, Voodoo Heart
73. Neil Stephenson, Quicksilver
74. Donna Tartt, The Little Friend
75. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
76. Joseph Wambaugh, Hollywood Station
77. Robert Warren Penn, All the King’s Men
78. Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger
79. Mark Winegardner, Crooked River Burning
80. Mark Winegardner, The Godfather Review
81. David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
82. Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road

1. Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
2. The Marauders by Tom Cooper
3. Dominion by C.J. Sansom
4. The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood
5. Local Souls by Allan Gurganus
6. The Secret Place by Tana French
7. The Accident by Chris Pavone
8. Missing You by Harlan Coben
9. Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons
10 – 12. The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer
13 & 14. Niceville and The Homecoming by Carsten Stroud
15 – 20. Gone series by Michael Grant
21. Joyland by Emily Schultz
22. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

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