reading list

a self-guided list of (eventually) ~100 for the Bennington Writing Seminars MFA program.

JAN. 2021
1. To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

this book is absolutely perfect. it has it all: race, class, adolescence, small-town dynamics, family bonds. we’ve all read it - I suggest you reread it immediately.

2. The Boy in the Field, Margot Livesy

I read this for another look at how good adolescent writing is achieved, as well as multiple-perspective narration. this book is dreamlike and grounded at the same time, and very well-written.

3. The Secret History, Donna Tartt

an indulgent, captivating book, especially if you are fond of the classics, nostalgic for the 90s, or have a fascination with east coast privilege.

4. Pet Milk, Stuart Dybek

I haven’t been this taken with a short story in quite awhile. this will leave you feeling golden inside. And it’s only 7 pages long.

5. I Stand Here Ironing, Tillie Olsen

A gut-wrenching, masterful story. Every word flows so perfectly into the next... another short one. A must-read.

6. Flight, John Updike

Some of the most approachable and relable Updike out there. The mother-son relationship anticipates his novel, Of the Farm. Another short story - worth the read for how he describes his sweetheart’s skin alone.

7. Araby, James Joyce

From Dubliners, a short and absolutely devestating story about a schoolboy crush and naive notions of fairy-tale endings. Another quick one. Read it.

8. The Mortality of Parents, Jim Shepard

About just that - a very physical story that will make your chest tight as you read the last lines.

FEB. 2021
9. Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout

A novel in 13 short stories. It was hard for me to sink into this until about halfway in, but now that it’s over I’m missing each character so much that my heart aches.

10. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

Lyrical, flowing, difficult. Reading this book is kind of like looking in a mirror on mushrooms. I have the sense that different epiphanies would come to a reader at different stages in their life.

11. The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer

A book about a group of “interesting” (aka entitled) kids who meet at an artsy summer camp. Jumps back and forth through time and perspective over several decades. Wasn’t very interesting to me.

12. The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers

Loved it. A short read (finished in a day). The stretching and compressing of time in late summer to a Southern child is fascinating to me. Devestating ending, beware :/

MAR. 2021

13. The Go-Between, L.P. Hartley

(currently reading)