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 humor writing 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 →