Great Authors’ Syllabi


When I think about good books, I think about this:

-Never read a bad book/book you don’t like 50 pages in; it’s wasteful.

-You will die someday; read accordingly.

-Reading aloud among friends can be [insert the best adjective you know]; not reading aloud among friends is also very good.

-Books, smart ones, particularly those prescribed by my favorite authors (see below), can make life manageable–better even, than life feels at 9am or 6pm or 11pm. They can get you through the day, is what I’m saying. They can give a bad day a much better feel. They can make you smarter when your day job suggests you’re lackluster.

You are not lackluster.

I have a new Infinite Summer proposition: let’s read all the good books for the rest of our lives.

You’ll find a lot of them herein:

Donald Barthelme’s Syllabus

Zadie Smith’s Syllabus

David Foster Wallace’s Syllabus


See also: A Reading List as Suggested Posthumously by David Foster Wallace

Elissa Bassist edits the Funny Women column. She teaches humor writing at The New School and Catapult. Follow her on Twitter, and visit for more literary, feminist, and personal criticism. More from this author →