The Things They Carried By: Tim O'Brien Everything O'Brien puts on the page is worthy of a read. In this work, O'Brien strings together a number of related stories using Vietnam as the backdrop. He plays with different forms that make for an interesting read, as well as a great learning tool.
Reading in the Dark By: Seamus Deane Frank McCourt received the big bucks and acclaim for Angela's Ashes, but if you want a beautiful read that will take you to the Land of Green and outdo McCourt's memoir in the process, Deane's auto-biographical novel does the trick.
My Losing Season By: Pat Conroy This book tops my charts for sports books. Sure we throw the adulation at the winners, but make no mistake about it-Conroy let's it be known that we learn so much more from losing. A great sports read examining the twisted minds that often belong to coaches, this is also a fantastic tool for those working on their own writing.
Bird by Bird By: Anne Lamott Need some writing advice from a real pro? Lamott covers it all. Tips on first drafts, dialogue, voice and more are provided in an insightful and humorous manner.
Last Exit to Brooklyn By: Hubert Selby, Jr. In this novel that can be as ugly as it is powerful, Selby experiments with a number of writing forms. Take a look if you want to see how a master handles point of view shifts and stream of consciousness. This novel gives the reader the feeling that he has crawled inside a bomb and is awaiting the inevitable explosion.
The Night in Question By: Tobias Wolff The most well-known Carver protege, Wolff spins wonderful short stories in this collection. With a memoir, a novella, and a number of short story collections to his credit, Wolff continues to tell well-crafted tales that spring out of ordinary, everyday life.
Ellen Foster By: Kaye Gibbons In her debut novel, Gibbons throws a beauty at us as she bounces back and forth from her old life with her old momma and daddy to her new life with her new momma. Ellen, the narrator, is one tough cookie for a little lady and Gibbons gives readers a detailed yet under-stated look into Ellen's life.
Zen in the Art of Writing By: Ray Bradbury Another book of insight and tips for writers. Bradbury may be famous for The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, but his essays in this book are point on and inspirational.