Tom Wolfe, the trailblazer of New Journalism who passed away in May of this year, was never one to shy from experimentation or controversy. Leaving a legacy of groundbreaking work that included 1968’s trippy The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and 1979’s enthralling The Right Stuff, Wolfe’s radical voice captured a period of American history and counter-culture with poetry, humor and endless flamboyance.
In J. Peder Zane’s 2007 book The Top Ten – which previously brought us Stephen King’s 10 all-time favorite novels – Wolfe provided a list of his own favorite books, spanning work by Guy de Maupassant, John Steinbeck, Leo Tolstoy and Evelyn Waugh. It’s accompanied by a short essay extolling on his appreciation of James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy, a work, Wolfe writes, that contains “one of the few sublime reflections of the feeling of being in love in all of literature.”
Read on for the full list of Tom Wolfe’s favorite books, and complement with the reading list of fellow New Journalism pioneer Joan Didion.
Cousin Bette by Honoré de Balzac
Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell
“The life of every individual, sayeth the sage, runs along the line created by the intersection of two planes: personality and social setting. I can’t think of any American novelist who ever drew that line more brilliantly than James T. Farrell in this trilogy. If this be “plodding realism,” let every American novelist start plodding Studs-style
, lest the American novel fall down in a heap and die, as it now seems wont to do.” -TW
Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant
BUtterfield 8 by John O’Hara
Our Town by Thornton Wilder
(via The Top Ten)
Books by Tom Wolfe
The Right Stuff (1979)
The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987)