A Reading List as Suggested Posthumously by David Foster Wallace


Compiled from “The Unfinished” by D. T. Max.

– Tom Clancy books, “for their ability to pack in facts.”
– Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
– Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (Pynchon, from whom Wallace took “his character names and attitude of paranoia.”)
– Don DeLillo’s White Noise (DeLillo, from whom he took his “deadpan dialogue.”)
– Wittgenstein
– John Barth (Wallace’s “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way” is “a parodic homage” to Barth’s story “Lost in the Funhouse.”)
– Dean Koontz
– Flight of Fear
– Stephen Crane
– Edith Wharton
– Philip Roth
– St. Paul
– Rousseau
– Dostoyevsky


“Books that only give pleasure to their authors”:

Kafka’s “Investigations of a Dog”
Anything by Ayn Rand
Anything by Günter Grass
Anything by Pynchon “at his rare worst”

Elissa Bassist edits the Funny Women column. She teaches "That's What She Said: A Humor Writing Workshop" at The New School and Catapult. Follow her on Twitter, and visit elissabassist.com for more literary, feminist, and personal criticism. More from this author →