Donald J. Claxton’s Reading List

Reading List –The First 101 Novels

My reading list is prompted by creative writing guru, Heather Sellers in her book,  Chapter After Chapter.

She posits one must read at least 101 novels to improve their novel writing.

Donald J. Claxton began this reading list in December 2016.

Reading List–The Second 101 Novels

With more than 150 books read on this reading list, Donald J. Claxton is more than halfway toward completing a second 101 novels.

Additions will continue to the second reading list until 202 novels are read.

Then, the third reading list will begin.

(Full disclosure: US and international laws require letting you know that through an affiliate relationship with Amazon, if you buy a book directly from, a commission from the sale, at no additional expense to you, may be earned.) 

The benefits of reading 101 novels

Much is learned from this reading list.

One of the most important writing concepts is how Philip Roth’s The Human Stain brings a clear example of “raising the stakes” in a story.

Also, there is the benefit of travel. These books will make you a world and time traveler.

As George Harrison sang ain his song, The Inner Life, all “Without going out of my door….”


Reading List and Book Reviews–The First 101

1 The Awakening, Kate Chopin

2 The Egypt Game, Zilpha Keatley Snyder

3 Go Set a Watchman, by Nelle Harper Lee

4 All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

5 Wintering, Peter Geye

6 The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

7 Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

8 Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

9 Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

10 Muscle and a Shovel, Michael J. Shank

11 The Heaven of Mercury, Brad Watson

12 The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

13 To Kill a Mockingbird, by Nelle Harper Lee

14 Twelve Days of Christmas, Debbie Macomber

15 The Snowden Files, Luke Harding

16 The Grid, by Harry Hunsicker

17 A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

18 Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett

19 Twain’s End, by Lynn Cullen

20 Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett

21 War and Turpentine, by Stefan Hertmans

22 Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

23 Mere Christianity, C S Lewis.

24 Moonglow, Michael Chabon

25 The Storied Life of A J Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin

26 A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

27 Rules of Civility, Amor Towles

28 A Separate Peace, John Knowles

29 The Travelers, Chris Pavone

30 History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund

31 The Human Comedy, William Saroyan

32 The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden

33 Caraval, Stephanie Garber

34 The Wolf in the Attic, Paul Kearney

35 The Barrowfields, Phillip Lewis

36 The Call of the Wild, Jack London

37 Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome

38 A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick

39 Elmet, Fiona Mozley

40 The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert

41 A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway *

42 Uncommon Type, Tom Hanks

43 The Lodger, Marie Belloc Lowndes

44 Hemingway in Love, His Own Story, A. E. Hotchner

45 On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan

46 The Paris Wife, Paula McLain

47 The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, The Hemingway Library

48 To Have and Have Not, Ernest Hemingway

49 The Waters and the Wild, DeSales Harrison

50 Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate

51 A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway

52 The Torrents of Spring, Ernest Hemingway

53 The Figure in the CarpetHenry James

54 The Last Tycoon, F. Scott Fitzgerald

55 The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

56 EileenOttessa Moshfegh

57 Animal Farm, George Orwell

58 The OverstoryRichard Powers

59 The Captives, Debra Jo Immergut

60 Scoop, Evelyn Waugh

61 Warlight, Michael Ondaatje

62 The Immortalists, Chloe Benjamin

63 Your Destination is on the Left, Lauren Spieller

64 The President is MissingBill Clinton and James Patterson

65 Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Therese Anne Fowler

66 The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah

67  Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, Oscar Wilde

68 A Long Way From Home, Peter Carey

69 My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh

70  The Pearl, John Steinbeck

71 The Human StainPhilip Roth

72 The Days of Abandonment, Elena Ferrante

73 The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

74 Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

75 There ThereTommy Orange

76 The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah

77 The Woman in the Window, A. J. Finn

78 When Life Gives You Lululemons, Lauren Weisberger

79 The Summer That Melted Everything, Tiffany McDaniel

80  Across the River and into the Trees,  Ernest Hemingway

81 Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout

82 Imagine Me Gone, Adam Haslett

83 My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout

84 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume

85 The Outsider, Stephen King

86 Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman

87 Tailspin, Sandra Brown

88 Pieces of Her, Karin Slaughter

89 The Plague, Albert Camus

90 The Shack, Wm. Paul Young

91 The Collector, John Fowles

92 You Can’t Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe

93 Atonement, Ian McEwan

94 Swift Vengeance, T. Jefferson Parker

95 The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel

96 The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, Robert Dugoni

97 The Flame Throwers, Rachel Kushner

98 The Other Woman, Daniel Silva

99 Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty

100 The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

101 The Infatuations, Javier Marías

Reading List and Book Reviews–The Second 101

102 War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

103 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon

104 Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

105 Ways to Hide in Winter, Sarah St. Vincent

106 Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky

107 Beneath A Scarlet Sky, Mark Sullivan

108 The Book of Dust: La Belle SauvagePhilip Pullman

109 The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

110 Fathers and Sons, Ivan Turgenev

111 The Master & Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov

112 Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

113 The Little Paris Bookshop, Nina George

114 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer & Anne Barrows

115 And Quiet Flows the Don, Mikhail Sholokhov

116 Closely Watched Trains, Bohumil Hrabal

117 The Alchemist, Paul Coelho

118 I Served the King of England, Bohumil Hrabal

119 Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

120 Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

121 The Dead Fathers Club, Matt Haig

122 Nutshell, Ian McEwan

123 Sashenka, Simon Sebag Montefiore

124 One Night in Winter, Simon Sebag Montefiore

125 The Secrets We Kept, Lara Prescott

126 First Love, Ivan Turgenev

127 White Rose, Black Forest, Eoin Dempsey

128 The Dutch House, Ann Patchett

129 You Are One of Them, Elliot Holt

130 The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides

131 There’s A Bat In Bunk Five, Paula Danzinger

132 The Bookshop, Penelope Fitzgerald

133 The Guest List, Lucy Foley

134 Anxious People, Fredrik Backman

135 Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson

136 The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

137 Ain’t Nobody Nobody, Heather Harper Ellett

138 Writers & Lovers, Lily King

139 Hamnet, Maggie O’Ferrell

140 The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner

141 This Tender Land, William Kent Krueger

142 Summer of the Woods, Steven K. Smith

143 The Children’s Blizzard, Melanie Benjamin

144 Cold, John Smolens

145 The Body, Stephen King

146 The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger

147 Looking For Alaska, John Green

148 Where The World Ends, Geraldine McCaughrean

149 Navigating Early, Clare Vanderpool

150. The Last Thing He Told Me, Laura Dave

151. The Lincoln Highway, Amor Towles

152. South of Superior, Ellen Airgood

Reading List and Book Reviews–Novel Writing

For novel writing, the following books are most beneficial to all writers:

1 Chapter After Chapter, Heather Sellers *

2 Dialogue, Robert McKee *

3 Invisible Ink: A practical guide to building stories, Brian McDonald *

4 The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler *

5 The Story Grid, Shawn Coyne *

6 Story, Robert McKee *

7 Please Understand Me II, David Keirsey *

8 Make Your Words Work, Gary Provost *

9 The Story Solution, Eric Edson *

10 Inner Drives, Pamela Jaye Smith *

11 The Games People Play, Dr. Eric Berne *

12 The Emotional Craft of Fiction, Donald Maass *

13 Writing 21st Century Fiction, Donald Maass *

14 Writing The Breakout Novel, Donald Maass *

15 The Daniel Plan, Rick Warren, Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman ^

16 The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron *

17 How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, Steve Stockman *

18 Finding Water, Julia Cameron *

19 Walking In This World, Julia Cameron *

20 Fearless Writing, William Kenower *

21 Let’s Write a Short Story, Joe Bunting *

22 The Right to Write, Julia Cameron *

23 Creating Character Arcs, KM Weiland*

24 Creating Character Arcs, KM Weiland*

25 The Writer’s Field Guide to the Craft of Fiction, Michael Noll *

26  Scene and Structure, Jack M. Bickham *

27 The Emotional Thesaurus, Ackerman & Puglisi *

28 Action Story—The Primal Genre, Shawn Coyne *

(The asterisk * behind titles show the books is about novel writing.)

Ernest Hemingway, in A Moveable Feast, calls them “Explainers.”

^ The Daniel Plan is a book about eating healthy, though my nutritionist says they didn’t consult a nutritionist to write the book.