American novelist and essayist Jonathan Franzen shot to fame when his third novel, The Corrections, was published in 2001. A sprawling, satirical family drama set in the Midwest, it drew extensive critical acclaim and won the National Book Award for Fiction. His 2010 followup Freedom – another epic of contemporary American marriage – received similar praise, with some critics calling it the “Great American Novel.” In addition to five works of non-fiction, Franzen released his sixth novel Crossroads last year, the first in a projected trilogy that follows a suburban family in crisis in ’70s Chicago.

Sharing some of his favorite fiction recommendations with Oprah’s Book Club, Franzen included work by Faulkner, Rushdie, Morrison and Munro. Read on for his favorites, and complement with the bookshelves of David Foster Wallace, Don DeLillo, Margaret Atwood and Philip Roth.

Jonathan Franzen’s Reading List

Continental Drift by Russell Banks

Seize the Day by Saul Bellow

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles (also rec’d by William S. Burroughs)

The Chaneysville Incident by David Bradley

Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell (also rec’d by Jia Tolentino)

Mr. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

White Noise by Don DeLillo

The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury

The Hamlet by William Faulkner

Desperate Characters by Paula Fox

Something Happened by Joseph Heller

Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson

Angels by Denis Johnson (also rec’d by Kim Gordon)

Corregidora by Gayl Jones

Independent People by Halldór Laxness

The Assistant by Bernard Malamud (also rec’d by Philip Roth)

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (also rec’d by Jodie Foster, Kamala Harris & Marlon James)

The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Runaway by Alice Munro

A Personal Matter by Kenzaburō Ōe

Eustace Chisholm and the Works by James Purdy

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (also rec’d by Deepak Chopra)

In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

Enemies, a Love Story by Isaac Bashevis Singer (also rec’d by Chrissie Hynde)

The Family Moskat by Isaac Bashevis Singer

The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley

The Age of Grief by Jane Smiley

Ordinary Love & Good Will by Jane Smiley

Endless Love by Scott Spencer

The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead (also rec’d by John Waters)

“Christina Stead’s masterpiece remains the most fabulous book that hardly anyone I know has read.” -JF

Taking Care by Joy Williams

(via Oprah’s Book Club)

Categories: Writers

Leave a comment