When asked about his writing process in Conversation with Gabriel García Márquez, the late, great Colombian author replied:

I don’t have a method. All I do is read a lot, think a lot, and rewrite constantly. It’s not a scientific thing.

Taking a keen interest in literature from a young age, Márquez dropped out of law school to pursue a career in journalism, and later, novel writing. Best known for his fiction works One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, Márquez popularized the magic realism genre and garnered critical and commercial success worldwide.

Collected from his autobiography Living To Tell The Tale by Brain Pickings, read on for a list of books that made a mark on Márquez.


The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

“The thundering success of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain … required the intervention of the rector to keep us from spending the whole night awake, waiting for Hans Castorp and Clavdia Chauchat to kiss. Or the rare tension of all of us sitting up on our beds in order not to miss a word of the disordered philosophical duels between Naptha and his friend Settembrini. The reading that night lasted for more than an hour and was celebrated in the dormitory with a round of applause.” -GGM

The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

Ulysses by James Joyce (also rec’d by Jim Morrison)

“[Ulysses] not only was the discovery of a genuine world that I never suspected inside me, but it also provided invaluable technical help to me in freeing language and in handling time and structures in my books.” -GGM

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (also rec’d by Philip Roth)

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (also rec’d by David Bowie)

The Wild Palms by William Faulkner

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

“Oedipus Rex revealed itself to me on first reading as the perfect work.” -GGM

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

“[Gustavo Ibarra] lent me Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, which marked me for life. Together we attempted a theory of the fatality of nostalgia in the wanderings of Ulysses Odysseus, where we became lost and never found our way out.” -GGM

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (also rec’d by Ursula K. Le Guin)

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (also rec’d by Bob DylanBruce SpringsteenPatti Smith, Ray Bradbury, Steve Jobs & Tilda Swinton)

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights

“I even dared to think that the marvels recounted by Scheherazade really happened in the daily life of her time, and stopped happening because of the incredulity and realistic cowardice of subsequent generations. By the same token, it seemed impossible that anyone from our time would ever believe again that you could fly over cities and mountains on a carpet, or that a slave from Cartagena de Indias would live for two hundred years in a bottle as a punishment, unless the author of the story could make his readers believe it.” -GGM

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (also rec’d by David Lynch)

“I never again slept with my former serenity. [The book] determined a new direction for my life from its first line, which today is one of the great devices in world literature: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” [I realized that] it was not necessary to demonstrate facts: it was enough for the author to have written something for it to be true, with no proof other than the power of his talent and the authority of his voice. It was Scheherazade all over again, not in her millenary world where everything was possible but in another irreparable world where everything had already been lost. When I finished reading The Metamorphosis I felt an irresistible longing to live in that alien paradise.” -GGM

The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges

The Collected Stories by Ernest Hemingway

Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (also rec’d by Bob DylanBruce SpringsteenNelson Mandela, Ray Bradbury & Tom Wolfe)

Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell

Stories by Katherine Mansfield

Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos

Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

(via Brain Pickings)

Categories: Authors

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