I have a weakness for reading lists– all those fabulous titles laid out neatly, all those stories and perspectives and styles, all the possibilities.  Truth is, I’ll never read everything that’s been written.  I don’t even want to.  Reading lists give me some guidance, impose some order on the overwhelming quantity and scope of literature available today.  Of course, reading lists are subjective just as literary taste is subjective.  Hence, I will not presume to suggest that I present here THE reading lists you should follow.  These are simply a starting place.  See if you agree with what is listed, based on your past reading, or try a few of them out and you might find something new.  Other great places for finding reading lists are through your public library or through universities (these may yield wildly divergent suggestions).

I’ve put together a few internet sources for reading lists of various genres.


  • Bookspot–a general reading website with links to multiple reading lists
  • Goodreads 2012 Choice Awards–Readers’ choice awards for the year
  • Brain Pickings–Best-of 2012 lists covering non-fiction topics such as art, history, food, science
  • Library of Congress–2 here: Books That Shaped America (not necessarily a “best books” list, but intended to promote thought and discussion) and Read.gov (links to reading lists, and a lot more!)
  • Modern Library–This is 2 classic 100 Best Novels lists in one, a board’s list and a readers’ list.


POETRY–Because sometimes it’s harder to know where to start with poetry than with fiction.

  • Poem Hunter Top 500–Admittedly, I have not read everything on this list and cannot attest to its quality.  This is, again, just a jumping-off point.  Another good way to get into poetry is simply to pick up an anthology.
  • Poets.org–a great site where you can find out about the poets as well as sample their work.  They do have lists as well, like these.

SHORT FICTION–similar to the poetry situation.  There’s too much to really know where to start.  Anthologies are a good way here as well to sample and find your favorites.

  • John Horner Jacobs–I don’t think I’d come up with the same top 10 as his, but there are some good ones on this list.  There are others I haven’t read, but I might try them out.
  • 50 Best Short Stories of All Time--I’m a little embarrassed at the source for this one, and I’m not promoting earning your Doctorate online, but it’s a pretty good classics list.
  • 1001 Short Stories–Don’t panic!  Remember you don’t have to read them all.  This is only a list of options.  Currently, there are only 334 stories on this list anyway.  It’s a work in progress.

Happy reading!  Hope you find something new and wonderful somewhere in these lists.  If you have any lists you particularly like, I’m always looking for a new one.

  1. Suzi says:

    My own to be read list is quite large. And I’m sure if I started going to some of these other places for ideas, my list would grow even larger. I do have a classics–everybody–should–read list that I go to every once in a while, otherwise I get mine by word of mouth.

  2. Jianne Carlo says:

    I try not to keep a reading list. If I see a book I want to read, I borrow or buy it and devour it ASAP. I will not go onto another until that one’s done. I have enough on my To Do list (which is like a Medusa’s head). But I did take a look at those lists and noted a few titles for the future. So, okay, my TBR list is mental :). Nice to meet you on the A to Z challenge.

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