Required Reading: The 40 Books That Changed Susan Orlean’s World


Yesterday Susan Orlean cataloged some of her all-time favorite books on Twitter using the hashtag #booksthatchangedmyworld, and it took off into a trending topic that still has major momentum. “At a moment when the publishing world is having profound self-esteem problems, when writers are worrying whether they need to learn programming code in order to keep pace with wherever it is that book publishing is going, it is marvelous to be reminded that it is still all about stories, and about feeling that something you read changed the way you look at life,” Orlean told The Book Bench. Click through for her full list of must-reads, and if you plan to get in on the action, be sure to tweet your selections @flavorpill.

1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, by Ron Hansen 2. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner 3. The Hours, by Michael Cunningham 4. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe 5. The White Album, by Joan Didion 6. The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro 7. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien 8. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez 9. The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy 10. The Death of Vishnu, by Manil Suri 11. The White Hotel, by D. M. Thomas 12. Hiroshima, by John Hersey 13. & 14. As a child: Jane Eyre, A Wrinkle in Time, “anything about horses.” 15. Mrs. Dalloway. “Actually, all of Virginia Woolf.” 16. The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje. 17. & 18. “Not a book-book, but ‘The Wasteland’ and ‘Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.'” 19. Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger 20. & 21. & 22. “I must repeat the Pat Barker trilogy, Ghost Road, Regeneration, and Eye in the Door — astonishing, life-changing.” 23. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote 24. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabakov 25. “Revolutionary Road — made a whole new idea of Americans come to life.” 26. “Oh, I forgot Siddhartha! Blew my mind when I was a teenager. Carried it with me for months.” 27. A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry. 28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey 29. “Kid book? The Yearling, definitely.” 30. The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck. 31. Man’s Fate, by Andre Malraux 32. “Can’t even THINK about Old Yeller.” 33. Ulysses, by James Joyce 34. The Odyssey, by Homer 35. The Once and Future King, by T. H. White 36. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis 37. The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright 38. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville 39. Son of the Morning Star, by Evan S. Connell 40. “The Year of Magical Thinking. All Didion, actually.”