Scott Bradfield’s totally subjective (within reason) reading list for the MFA

MFA Reading List

– Bradfield, Fall 2011 –

The following titles are recommended to anyone who wants to see how good writers with long careers behind (and ahead of) them address issues of style, plot, character and substance.


Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana

Brian Moore, Lies of Silence

Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs

Georges Simenon, The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By

Michael Moorcock, The Knight of Swords

Elmore Leonard, La Brava

Xiaoda Xiao, The Cave Man

Richard Yates, The Easter Parade

Brian Evenson, Last Days

Steve Erickson, Zeroville

Rachel Cusk, In the Fold

Jonathan Franzen, Freedom

Ian McEwan, Solar

Short Stories:

Helen Simpson, Four Bare Legs and a Bed

Raymond Carver: Where I’m Calling From, New and Selected Stories

George Saunders, Pastoralia

J. Robert Lennon, Pieces for the Left Hand: 100 Anecdotes

Joyce Carol Oates, The Collector of Hearts

Travel Literature/Life-Writing:

Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent

Tobias Wolff, This Boy’s Life

Children’s Fiction:

Phillip Pullman, Northern Lights

Louis Sachar, Holes


James Merrill, Water Street

John Berryman, The Dream Songs

Disch, About the Size of It

and, oh, anything by Amy Clampitt


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sarah
    Oct 05, 2011 @ 08:31:54

    I’m always excited by reading lists, though I do feel that this year I might never come up from between the pages! At least I know the books will be good!


  2. Scott Bradfield
    Oct 05, 2011 @ 11:29:26

    I hope you think they’re good – I love all of these books. But even if you don’t love all of them – you can learn most of the basics from each of them.


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