Reading Lists

Local Reading Groups

Here are a few of the books selected by some local Humboldt County reading groups:

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
A Thread of Grace by Doria Russell
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Almost French by Sarah Turnbull
Antonement by Ian McEwan
Authenticity by Deirdre Madden
Caravans by James Mitchner
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
Geisha, A Life by Mineko Iwasaki with Rande Brown
Gonzalez & Daughter Trucking Company by Maria Amparo Escandon
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Letters To Alice On First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier
O Pioneers by Willa Cather
Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner
Passion of Artemesi by Susan Vreeland
Saving Grace by Julie Garwood
Snow by Orhan Parmuk
Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr
Strange Fits of Passion by Anita Shreve
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
The Devil in The White City by Erik Larson
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough
The Lady and The Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
The Love Wife by Gish Jen
The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage
The Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingslover
The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble,
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve
Too Close To The Falls by Catherine Gildiner

To share your group’s selection, email to or snail mail to Friends of the McKinleyville Library, PO Box 2612, McKinleyville CA 95519

Books of the Century ~ The New York Public Library

Entries marked with an * are available from the Humboldt County Library System. See a library staff member or visit for details.

Some selections may not be suitable for all ages. Parental discretion is advised.

Landmarks of Modern Literature

*Anton Chekhov. The Three Sisters (1901)
*Marcel Proust. Remembrance of Things Past (3 vols., 1913-27)
Gertrude Stein. Tender Buttons: Objects Food Rooms (1914)
*Franz Kafka. The Metamorphosis (1915)
*Edna St. Vincent Millay. Renascence and Other Poems (1917)
William Butler Yeats. The Wild Swans at Coole (1917)
*Luigi Pirandello. Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921)
*T. S. Eliot. The Waste Land (1922)
*James Joyce. Ulysses (1922)
*Thomas Mann. The Magic Mountain (1924)
*F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby (1925)
*Virginia Woolf. To the Lighthouse (1927)
*Federico García Lorca. Gypsy Ballads (1928)
*Richard Wright. Native Son (1940)
William Faulkner. The Portable Faulkner (1946)
W. H. Auden. The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue (1947)
*Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot; A Tragicomedy in Two Acts (1952)
*Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man (1952)
*Vladimir Nabokov. Lolita (1955)
Jorge Luis Borges. Fictions (1944; 2nd augmented edition, 1956)
*Jack Kerouac. On the Road (1957)
*Gabriel García Márquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)
*Philip Roth. Portnoy’s Complaint (1969)
*Toni Morrison. Song of Solomon (1977)

Nature's Realm

Maurice Maeterlinck. The Life of the Bee (1901)
Marie Sklodowska Curie. Treatise on Radioactivity (1910)
Albert Einstein. The Meaning of Relativity (1922)
*Roger Tory Peterson. A Field Guide to the Birds (1934)
*Aldo Leopold. A Sand County Almanac (1949)
*Konrad Z. Lorenz. King Solomon’s Ring: New Light on Animal Ways (1949)
*Rachel Carson. Silent Spring (1962)
Smoking and Health (known as The Surgeon General’s Report) (1964)
*James Watson. The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (1968)
*Edward O. Wilson. The Diversity of Life (1992)

Protest & Progress

Jacob Riis. The Battle with the Slum (1902)
*W. E. B. Du Bois. The Souls of Black Folk (1903)
Upton Sinclair. The Jungle (1906)
*Jane Addams. Twenty Years at Hull-House (1910)
Lillian Wald. The House on Henry Street (1915)
Lincoln Steffens. The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens (1931)
John Dos Passos. U.S.A. (1937)
John Steinbeck. The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
James Agee and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941)
Lillian Smith. Strange Fruit (1944)
Paul Goodman. Growing Up Absurd (1960)
James Baldwin. The Fire Next Time (1963)
Malcolm X. The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)
Randy Shilts. And the Band Played On (1987)
Alex Kotlowitz. There Are No Children Here (1991)

Colonialism & Its Aftermath

*Joseph Conrad. Lord Jim (1900)
*Rudyard Kipling. Kim (1901)
Mohandas K. Gandhi. Non-Violent Resistance (1921-40)
*E. M. Forster. A Passage to India (1924)
*Albert Camus. The Strange] (1942)
United Nations Charter (1945)
*Alan Paton. Cry, the Beloved Country (1948)
*Edward Steichen. The Family of Man: The Photographic Exhibition Created by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art (1955)
*Chinua Achebe. Things Fall Apart (1958)
Frantz Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth(1961)
*Jean Rhys. Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)
Tayeb el-Salih. Season of Migration to the North (1969)
V. S. Naipaul. Guerrillas (1975)
Buchi Emecheta. The Bride Price (1976)
Ryszard Kapuscinski. The Emperor (1978)
*Rigoberta Menchú. I, Rigoberta Menchú (1983)
Marguerite Duras. The Lover (1984)

Mind & Spirit

Emile Durkheim. Suicide: A Study in Sociology (1897)
Sigmund Freud. The Interpretation of Dreams (1900)
Havelock Ellis. Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1901-28)
William James. The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (1902)
*Kahlil Gibran. The Prophet (1923)
*Bertrand Russell. Why I Am Not a Christian (1927)
*Margaret Mead. Coming of Age in Samoa (1928)
*Jean-Paul Sartre. Being and Nothingness (1943)
Dr. Benjamin Spock. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946)
*The Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version (1952)
*Paul Tillich. The Courage to Be (1952)
*Ken Kesey. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)
Timothy Leary. The Politics of Ecstasy (1968)
*Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. On Death and Dying (1969)
*Bruno Bettelheim. The Uses of Enchantment (1976)

Popular Culture & Mass Entertainment

*Bram Stoker. Dracula (1897)
*Henry James. The Turn of the Screw (1898)
*Arthur Conan Doyle. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
*Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tarzan of the Apes (1912)
*Zane Grey. Riders of the Purple Sage (1912)
*Agatha Christie. The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
*Dale Carnegie. How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936)
*Margaret Mitchell. Gone with the Wind (1936)
*Raymond Chandler. The Big Sleep (1939)
*Nathanael West. The Day of the Locust (1939)
*Grace Metalious. Peyton Place (1956)
*Dr. Seuss. The Cat in the Hat (1957)
*Robert A. Heinlein. Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
*Joseph Heller. Catch-22 (1961)
*Truman Capote. In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (1965)
*Jim Bouton. Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Big Leagues (1970)
*Stephen King. Carrie (1974)
*Tom Wolfe. The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987)

Women Rise

*Edith Wharton. The Age of Innocence (1920)
*Carrie Chapman Catt and Nettie Rogers Shuler. Woman Suffrage and Politics: The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement (1923)
Margaret Sanger. My Fight for Birth Control (1931)
*Zora Neale Hurston. Dust Tracks on a Road (1942)
Simone de Beauvoir. The Second Sex (1949)
Doris Lessing. The Golden Notebook (1962)
*Betty Friedan. The Feminine Mystique (1963)
*Maya Angelou. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)
*Robin Morgan, editor. Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement (1970)
*Susan Brownmiller. Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (1975)
*Alice Walker. The Color Purple (1982)

Economics & Technology

*Thorstein Veblen. The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899)
*Max Weber. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904)
*Henry Adams. The Education of Henry Adams (1907)
*John Maynard Keynes. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936)
*Friedrich A. von Hayek. The Road to Serfdom (1944)
Milton Friedman. A Theory of the Consumption Function (1957)
*John Kenneth Galbraith. The Affluent Society (1958)
*Jane Jacobs. The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961)
Helen Leavitt. Superhighway – Super Hoax (1970)
E. F. Schumacher. Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered (1973)
Ed Krol. The Whole Internet: User’s Guide & Catalog (1992)

Utopias & Dystopias

*H. G. Wells. The Time Machine (1895)
Theodor Herzl. The Jewish State (1896)
*L. Frank Baum. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
*J. M. Barrie. Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906)
*Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Herland (1915)
*Aldous Huxley. Brave New World (1932)
*James Hilton. Lost Horizon (1933)
*B. F. Skinner. Walden Two (1948)
*George Orwell. Nineteen Eighty-four (1949)
*Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
*Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged (1957)
*Anthony Burgess. A Clockwork Orange (1962)
*Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

War, Holocaust, Totalitarianism

Arnold Toynbee. Armenian Atrocities: The Murder of a Nation (1915)
*John Reed. Ten Days That Shook the World (1919)
Siegfried Sassoon. The War Poems (1919)
Jaroslav Hasek. The Good Soldier Schweik (1920-23)
*Adolf Hitler. Mein Kampf (1925-26)
*Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front (1928)
Anna Akhmatova. Requiem (1935-40)
*Ernest Hemingway. For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)
*Arthur Koestler. Darkness at Noon (1941)
*John Hersey. Hiroshima (1946)
*Anne Frank. The Diary of a Young Girl (1947)
*Winston Churchill. The Gathering Storm (1948)
*Elie Wiesel. Night (1958)
Mao Zedong. Quotations from Chairman Mao (1966)
*Dee Alexander Brown. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (1970)
*Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn. The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (1973-75)
*Michael Herr. Dispatches (1977)
*Art Spiegelman. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (2 vols., 1986-91)

Optimism, Joy, Gentility

*Sarah Orne Jewett. The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896)
*Helen Keller. The Story of My Life (1903)
*G. K. Chesterton. The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)
Juan Ramón Jiménez. Platero and I; An Andalusian Elegy (1914)
*George Bernard Shaw. Pygmalion (1914)
*Emily Post. Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home (1922)
*P. G. Wodehouse. The Inimitable Jeeves (1923)
*A. A. Milne. Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)
*Willa Cather. Shadows on the Rock (1931)
*Irma S. Rombauer. The Joy of Cooking: A Compilation of Reliable Recipes with a Casual Culinary Chat (1931)
*J. R. R. Tolkien. The Hobbit (1937)
*Margaret Wise Brown. Goodnight Moon (1947)
*Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)
*Langston Hughes. The Best of Simple (1961)
Elizabeth Bishop. The Complete Poems, 1927-1979 (1983)

Favorites of Childhood & Youth

*Beatrix Potter. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1901)
*Betty Smith. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943)
*C. S. Lewis. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
*J. D. Salinger. The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
*E. B. White. Charlotte’s Web (1952)
*Ezra Jack Keats. The Snowy Day (1962)
*Maurice Sendak. Where the Wild Things Are (1963)
*Patricia MacLachlan. Sarah, Plain and Tall (1985)