Books Cal Wants to Read: Fiction

Updated May 24, 2019

  • A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipal**
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  • A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor**
  • Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner*
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll*
  • Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont
  • An Innocent Millionaire by Stephen Vizinczey
  • Any Human Heart by William Boyd
  • Applesby’s End by Michael Innes*
  • At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neil  [Emory 4th floor: PR 6065.Nr194 A92 2002]


  • Because I Was Flesh by Edward Dahlberg*
  • Being Dead by Jim Crace
  • Black Swan Green by David Mitchell   [Emory 4th floor: PR 6063 I74 B58 2006]
  • Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie
  • Body and Raiment by Eunice Tietjens [Emory doesn’t own]
  • Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe*
  • Bouvard and Puchet by Gustave Flaubert


  • Chamber Music by Doris Grumbach
  • Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett
  • Commonwealth (2016) by Ann Patchett
  • Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett


  • Darconville’s Cat by Alexander Theroux*


  • Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane*


  • Family and Friends by Anita Brookner**
  • Fifth Business by Robertson Davies*
  • Fishcakes and Courtesans by James Davidson*
  • Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes**
  • Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
  • Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer


  • Hamlet, Revenge! by Michael Innes*
  • Housekeeping (2004) by Marilynne Robinson


  • Immortality by Milan Kundera
  • In Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman
  • In Praise of Older Women by Stephen Vizinczey
  • Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright


  • Lament for a Maker by Michael Innes*
  • Light Years by James Salter*
  • Living Alone by Stella Benson
  • Little, Big by John Crowley (“the finest American fantasy novel of our time”)*
  • Love’s Executioner by Philip D. Yalom


  • My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith


  • Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
  • Nostromo by Joseph Conrad


  • Oracle Night by Paul Auster
  • Outline by Rachel Cusk


  • Pale Fire by Nabokov
  • Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
  • Perfect by Rachel Joyce   [Emory 4th floor: PR6110 .098 P47 2013]
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower


  • Remembrance of Things Past [Terence Kilmartin translation] by Marcel Proust
  • Rats Saw God by Rib Thomas


  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marish Pessl


  • Tales of Wonder by H.G. Wells
  • The Book of Wonder by Lord Dunsany (1878-1957)*
  • The Book Thief [recommended by Harvey Schwartz]     [Emory 4th floor:  PZ 7 .Z837 B66 2006]
  • The Chateau by William Maxwell
  • The Collected Essays of J.V. Cunningham
  • The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn
  • The Constant Nymph by Margaret Kennedy
  • The Dying Earth by Jack Vance*
  • The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  • The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
  • The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
  • The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (1759) by Samuel Johnson
  • The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen**
  • The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll*
  • The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen**
  • The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton*
  • The Married Man by Edmund White*
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy**
  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  • The Morville Hours by Kate Morton
  • The Most of S.J. Perelman*
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  • The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft by George Gissing
  • The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford**
  • The Rector’s Daughter by F.M. Mayor**
  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  • The Smaller Sky by John Wain
  • The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
  • The Spinoza Problem by Philip Yalom
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  • The Three-Cornered World by Natsumi Soseki
  • The Time That It Takes Falling Bodies to Land
  • The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope**
  • The Weekend Wodehouse*
  • Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll*
  • Tying Rocks to Clouds by William Elliott [Emory doesn’t own]


  • Utz by Bruce Chatwin


  • Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre


  • We the Animals by Justin Torres
  • What’s Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies*
  • When Nietzche Wept by Philip Yalon
  • Wise Children by Angela Carter


  • Zeno’s Conscience by Sveno


*Recommended by Michael Dirda in Book by Book: Notes on the Reading Life (2006). Dirda’s favorite authors: Nabokov, M.F.K. Fisher, Jorge Luis Borges, Anton Chekov, Stendhal, Robertson Davies, Steven Mullhauser, Isaiah Berlin.

**Recommended or cited by Howard’s End is On the Landing.

See also: Nonfiction Books Cal Wants to Read

2 thoughts on “Books Cal Wants to Read: Fiction

  1. What a great list! I have read several of these and never heard of others; some of these are being noted for my own to-be-read stack. Of the ones you have listed that I have read, everything by Robertson Davies is a treasure; The Patrick Melrose series is beautifully done and devastating, diito A Little Life; The Eyre Affair is first in a series and I dare you to stop at the first one (LOL); once you read Housekeeping I strongly recommend her following three, which are tied together: Gilead, Home. Lila. I have never seen anyone else even reference Islandia; is it still in print?

    1. Thanks for looking over the list, David, and for your comment, which could help guide me to what on this long, long list to tackle first. Incidentally, Housekeeping is on the list because I got distracted when I started reading it and never finished it; I loved her other books, which I read before I picked up Housekeeping.

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