Links + Recs

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Some Writerly What-Nots

(An Incomplete But Open-Ended) List of Authors and Book Recs

A list of contemporary authors and some of their novels, short-story collections, creative nonfiction, poetry (soon), and/or graphic narratives, as well as some craft texts, that have taught or inspired me in some way. This list is far from comprehensive and leaves out some big names and classics, but it’s a start. Feel free to suggest names in the Comments section. Note: I rec books as a writer and teacher, not as a critic; many of my recs include books whose imperfections are something to learn from, or that do something wild and extraordinary but maybe fall apart a little. That’s instructive.


  • Chantel Acevedo (Love and Ghost Letters, A Falling Star, The Distant Marvels)
  • Sherman Alexie (Reservation Blues, Ten Little Indians, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian)
  • Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina, Trash, Two or Three Things I Know For Sure)
  • Julia Alvarez (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents)
  • Carol Anshaw (Lucky in the Corner, Carry the One)
  • Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake/Year of the Flood/MaddAddam, so many)
  • Paul Auster (The Music of Chance)
  • Russell Banks (The Sweet Hereafter)
  • Pat Barker (The Regeneration Trilogy, Border Crossing, Another World, Like Life, Toby’s Room, Noonday)
  • Andrea Barrett  (Ship Fever)
  • Richard Bausch (Spirits, Rare and Endangered Species)
  • Charles Baxter (First Light, The Feast of Love, all)
  • Ann Beattie (Where You’ll Find Me)
  • Alison Bechdel (Fun Home, Are You My Mother?)
  • Amy Benson (The Sparkling-Eyed Boy)
  • Aimee Bender (The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, An Invisible Sign of My Own, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake)
  • Brit Bennett (The Mothers)
  • Lucia Berlin (A Manual for Cleaning Women)
  • Amy Bloom (Away)
  • T.C. Boyle (After the Plague)
  • Octavia Butler (Kindred, Parable of the Sower)
  • Raymond Carver (Cathedral, Where I’m Calling From)
  • Oscar Casares (Brownsville)
  • Joy Castro (The Truth Book, Island of Bones, How Winter Began)
  • Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street, Women Hollering Creek)
  • Ta-Nehesi Coates (Between the World and Me, other essays)
  • J.M. Coetzee (Disgrace)
  • Jennine Capó Crucet (How to Leave Hialeah, Make Your Home Among Strangers)
  • Eugene Cross (Fires of Our Choosing)
  • Edwidge Danticat (Breath, Eyes, Memory, Create Dangerously)
  • Kathryn Davis (Duplex)
  • Junot Diaz (Drown, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, This Is How You Lose Her)
  • Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking)
  • Don Delillo (White Noise, Underworld)
  • Andre Dubus (We Don’t Live Here Anymore)
  • Tony Earley (Jim the Boy, The Blue Star, Here We are in Paradise, Somehow Form a Family)
  • Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Keep)
  • Deborah Eisenberg (The Stories [So Far] of Deborah Eisenberg)
  • Louise Erdrich (Love Medicine, The Round House, LaRose)
  • Alex Espinoza (Still Water Saints)
  • Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex, The Virgin Suicides)
  • Angela Flournoy (The Turner House)
  • Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
  • Richard Ford (Rock Springs, Canada)
  • Mary Gaitskill (Because They Wanted To)
  • Cristina Garcia (Dreaming in Cuban, The Kings of Cuba)
  • William Gay (I Hate to See the Evening Sun Go Down)
  • Julia Glass (Three Junes, The Whole World Over)
  • Jim Grimsley (Winter Birds)
  • Yaa Gyasi (Homecoming)
  • Kent Haruf (Plainsong, Benediction, Our Souls at Night)
  • Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime)
  • Amy Hempel (all, but The Collected Stories a good starter)
  • A.M. Homes (The Safety of Objects)
  • Pam Houston (Cowboys Are My Weakness, Sighthound, Contents May Have Shifted)
  • Ravi Howard (Like Trees, Walking)
  • Kazuo Ishigiro (Never Let Me Go, A Pale View of Hills)
  • Denis Johnson (Tree of Smoke, Jesus’ Son, Angels)
  • Edward P. Jones (The Known World)
  • Tayari Jones (Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow)
  • Mary Karr (The Liars Club, Cherry)
  • Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth)
  • Victor LaValle (Slapboxing with Jesus, The Devil in Silver)
  • Ursula LeGuin (The Dispossessed, Left Hand of Darkness)
  • Margot Livesey (Eva Moves the Furniture, Criminals, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Banishing Verona, all)
  • Lorraine López (Soy La Avon Lady, The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters, The Realm of Hungry Spirits, The Darling)
  • Bret Lott (Jewel, The Hunt Club)
  • Colum McCann (Let the Great World Spin, This Side of Brightness, Zoli, Thirteen Stories)
  • Cormac McCarthy (The Road, All the Pretty Horses)
  • Nina McConigley (Cowboys and East Indians)
  • Jill McCorkle (Crash Diet, Final Vinyl Days, July 7, Going Away Shoes)
  • Elizabeth McCracken (The Giant’s House, Thunderstruck)
  • James Alan McPherson (Hue and Cry)
  • Rick Moody (The Ice Storm, Demonology)
  • Lorrie Moore (Self-Help, Who Will Run the Frog Hospital, Birds of America, Like Life, The Gate at the Stairs)
  • Toni Morrison (Beloved, Song of Solomon, Sula, The Bluest Eye, all)
  • Alice Munro (Runaway; Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, Dear Life, all)
  • Antonya Nelson (Female Trouble, Nobody’s Girl, Bound, Nothing Right)
  • Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You)
  • Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried, In the Lake of the Woods, July, July)
  • Judith Ortiz Cofer (The Latin Deli)
  • Helen Oyeyemi (Boy, Snow, Bird)
  • ZZ Packer (Drinking Coffee Elsewhere)
  • Derek Palacio (The Mortifications)
  • Grace Paley (The Collected Stories)
  •  Jayne Anne Phillips (Machine Dreams, Lark and Termite)
  • Francine Prose (Blue Angel, A Changed Man)
  • Annie Proulx (Close Range)
  • Claudia Rankine (Citizen–poetry/essays, amazing)
  • Nancy Reisman (House Fires, The First Desire)
  • Marilynne Robinson (Housekeeping, Gilead, Home, Lila)
  • Phillip Roth (Goodbye, Columbus)
  • John Rowell (The Music of Your Life)
  • Arundahti Roy (The God of Small Things)
  • Richard Russo (Empire Falls, The Risk Pool, Bridge of Sighs)
  • Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis)
  • George Saunders (CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Tenth of December)
  • David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim)
  • Leslie Marmon Silko (Ceremony)
  • Mona Simpson (Anywhere But Here, Off Keck Road)
  • Patti Smith (Just Kids, M Train)
  • Zadie Smith (White Teeth, Swing Time)
  • Art Spiegelman (Maus I, II, MetaMaus)
  • Cheryl Strayed (Wild, Tiny Beautiful Things, Dear Sugar on The Rumpus)
  • Elizabeth Strout (Olive Kitteridge, The Burgess Boys, Abide with Me, Amy and Isabelle, My Name is Lucy Barton)
  • Colm Toibin (Brooklyn)
  • Luis Alberto Urrea (The Devil’s Highway, The Hummingbird’s Daughter)
  • Alice Walker (The Color Purple)
  • Clare Vaye Watkins (Battleborn; Gold, Fame, Citrus)
  • Eudora Welty (Collected works)
  • Kevin Wilson (Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, The Family Fang, Perfect Little World)
  • Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad)
  • Tobias Wolff (Collected, This Boy’s Life)


For now, here’s what’s currently on my shelf. More TK

Craft Texts

  • Aristotle. The Poetics.
  • Charles Baxter. The Art of Subtext.
  • Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers.
  • Renni Browne and Dave King. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.
  • Janet Burroway. Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft and Imaginative Writing
  • Ron Carlson. Ron Carlson Writes a Story.
  • Christopher Castellani. The Art of Perspective.
  • John Dufresne. The Lie That Tells a Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction.
  • Sherry Ellis. Now Write!: Fiction Writing Exercises from Today’s Best Writing & Teachers.
  • E. M. Forster. Aspects of the Novel.
  • John Gardner. The Art of Fiction.
  • Natalie Goldberg. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within.
  • Michael Kardos. The Art and Craft of Fiction.
  • Anne Lamott. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
  • Alice LaPlante. Method and Madness: The Making of a Story.
  • Eudora Welty. The Eye of the Story: Selected Essays and Reviews.
  • Flannery O’Connor. Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose.
  • Francine Prose. Reading Like a Writer.
  • Heather Sellers. The Practice of Creative Writing.
  • John Steinbeck. (Ed. Robert Demott.) Working Days.
  • Jerome Stern. Making Shapely Fiction.


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