Friday, October 1, 2021


A canon in literature is "a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works" or it could be "a criterion or standard of judgment." A personal canon is a private, individual degree, judgment, or approval of literature. These may be books you read over and over again, or are your standards of a particular judgment, comparison, or contrast of other works. They are books that speak to your heart, soul, and mind -- books you do not want to live without. 

Following are my absolute favorite books that are or have become my standard for literature and reading.  

classics / fiction / historical fiction


Alcott: Little Women

Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale


Bronte: Jane Eyre

Dickens: A Christmas Carol / Oliver Twist / A Tale of Two Cities


Flaubert: Madame Bovary

Forster: Howards End / A Room With a View

Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby


Hardy: Far From the Madding Crowd / Jude the Obscure / The Mayor of Casterbridge / Return of the Native / Tess of D'Urbervilles / Under the Greenwood Tree

Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter



Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird

Lewis: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe


Melville: Moby-Dick

Mitchell: Gone With the Wind

Montgomery: Anne of Green Gables

Orwell: 1984

Pasternak: Doctor Zhivago

Remarque: All Quiet on the Western Front

Stowe: Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or, Life Among the Lowly

Tolstoy: Anna Karenina / War and Peace

Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Wharton: The Age of Innocence / The House of Mirth / Ethan Frome


Zola: Germinal


non - fiction / histories / biographies


The Bible




Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave / My Bondage and My Freedom / Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

Equiano: The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings

Frankl: Man's Search for Meaning

Hillenbrand: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Hillman: I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree: A Memoir of a Schindler's List Survivor

Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Johnson: A History of the American People

Lewis: Mere Christianity 

Metaxas: Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End SlaveryBonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Nafisi: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

Park: In Order to Live

Paine: Common Sense, The Rights of Man and Other Essential Writings 

Popov: Tortured for His Faith

Stewart: Letters of a Woman Homesteader

Thomas: My Grandfather's Son

Thoreau: Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

Tomalin: Thomas Hardy

Washington: Up From Slavery

Wells: Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells

Wiesel: Night

Wilder: On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip From South Dakota / On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip From South Dakota (reread) / West from Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, San Francisco, 1915 

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