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06 September 2016 @ 08:00 am
Pulitzer Prize Reading Challenge  
I've decided that in addition to the a million other reading goals I have, and the general time-suck that is fanfic reading and writing, what I really needed was another challenge... :P

Basically, I really want to read all of the Pulitzer Prize winning novels. Because, why not?

I've only read about 12% of the books on the list, so it will probably take me a while to get through these. My goal is to finish by Sept 2018, which would mean reading 3-4 books per month. I've gone through and marked the ones my library doesn't have available on audio/ebook (since those will be more inconvenient to track down), and I've also marked the shorter audiobooks for when I want to knock something out quickly on my work commute. I've currently got the most recent winner on hold at the library, but after that, I'm wide open in terms of what to read next.

Any suggestions? Any books on here that I HAVE to read ASAP? How many of these books have you all read?

Pulitzer Prize Winners (novels/fiction)

Including date read, star rating, and link to review. Right now I am counting books as "read" even if I read them 5+ years ago, though ideally I'd like to reread those books as well.

complete: (28/90)

1918: His Family by Ernest Poole read 2/2017, 3 stars
1919: The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
1921: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton read 11/2016, 4 stars
1922: Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington read 12/2016, 2 stars
1923: One of Ours by Willa Cather
1924: The Able McLaughlins by Margaret Wilson read 4/2017, 2.5 stars
1925: So Big by Edna Ferber read in 09/2016, 3.5 stars
1926: Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis (declined prize) [not on library overdrive]
1927: Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield [not available at library]
1928: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder read 09/2016, 4 stars
1929: Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin [not on library overdrive]
1930: Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge [not on library overdrive]
1931: Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes [not available at library]
1932: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck read 01/2017, 5 stars
1933: The Store by Thomas Sigismund Stribling [not on library overdrive]
1934: Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller [not available at library]
1935: Now in November by Josephine Winslow Johnson [not on library overdrive]
1936: Honey in the Horn by Harold L. Davis [not available at library]
1937: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell read 2005, 5 stars (one of my all time favorite books)
1938: The Late George Apley by John Phillips Marquand [not on library overdrive]
1939: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings [not on library overdrive]
1940: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck read 2007, 3 stars
1942: In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow [not on library overdrive]
1943: Dragon's Teeth by Upton Sinclair [not on library overdrive]
1944: Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin [not available at library]
1945: A Bell for Adano by John Hersey [not on library overdrive]
1947: All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
1948: Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener [not on library overdrive]
1949: Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens [not on library overdrive]
1950: The Way West by A. B. Guthrie, Jr. [not the first in the series]
1951: The Town by Conrad Richter [not on library overdrive]
1952: The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk currently reading
1953: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway read in 2006, 3 stars
1955: A Fable by William Faulkner
1956: Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
1958: A Death in the Family by James Agee [audiobook = 10 hrs]
1959: The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor [not on library overdrive]
1960: Advise and Consent by Allen Drury [not available at library]
1961: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee read most recently in college, 4 stars
1962: The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor [not on library overdrive]
1963: The Reivers by William Faulkner currently reading read 05/2017, 1.5 stars
1965: The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau [audiobook less than 10 hrs]
1966: The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter [not on library overdrive]
1967: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud [audiobook less than 10 hrs]
1968: The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
1969: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
1970: The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford by Jean Stafford [not on library overdrive]
1972: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
1973: The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty
1975: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara [not the first in the series]
1976: Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow
1978: Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson [not on library overdrive]
1979: The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever [not on library overdrive]
1980: The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
1981: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
1982: Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike [not the first in the series]
1983: The Color Purple by Alice Walker katmarajade recs! read 03/2017, 5 stars
1984: Ironweed by William Kennedy [not on library overdrive]
1985: Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie [not on library overdrive]
1986: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry lq_traintracks recs! read 02/2017, 3 stars
1987: A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor [not on library overdrive]
1988: Beloved by Toni Morrison read 08/2016, 3 stars
1989: Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
1990: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos [not on library overdrive]
1991: Rabbit at Rest by John Updike [not the first in the series]
1992: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
1993: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler read 08/2016, 4.5 stars
1994: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx vaysh recs!
1995: The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
1996: Independence Day by Richard Ford
1997: Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser read 04/2017, 2.5 stars
1998: American Pastoral by Philip Roth
1999: The Hours by Michael Cunningham theimpossiblegl recs!
2000: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri read 01/2017, 4.5 stars
2001: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon katmarajade recs!
2002: Empire Falls by Richard Russo
2003: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides nia_kantorka recs!
2004: The Known World by Edward P. Jones
2005: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson read 02/2017, 3.5 stars
2006: March by Geraldine Brooks
2007: The Road by Cormac McCarthy read 09/2016, 2.5 stars
2008: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz read 2008, 5 stars
2009: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
2010: Tinkers by Paul Harding read 09/2016, 3.5 stars
2011: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan Read 07/2015, 4 stars
2013: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson read 3/2018, 3 stars
2014: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt read 11/2014, 3 stars
2015: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr read 05/2015, 5 stars
2016: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen read 11/2016, 4 stars
2017: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead read 6/2017, 4.5 stars
2018: Less: A Novel by Andrew Sean Greer
2019: ???
Avid Supporter of the Booty Floolq_traintracks on September 6th, 2016 03:15 pm (UTC)
Ooooh yesyesyes!

Well, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is one of my favorite books of short stories of all time. She's amazing. At one time, I had three copies of this book, but I don't anymore or I would send you one ASAP! Amazing writer and a book that I'll come back to time and again when I want to remember how beautifully a short story can be crafted and get inspired!

I haven't read Bernard Malamud's The Fixer, but I loooove Malamud in general. I'd recommend A New Life or also books of his short stories. I'll look into getting this one for myself now!

And Lonesome Dove is amazing. I was obsessed with the mini-series first when I was a kid, so I read the book, and oh. Larry McMurtry does a beautiful job. <3

Good luck and do update us again if you will! (Sometimes I miss being an English major. ;-P )
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 6th, 2016 03:24 pm (UTC)
Ooo, and both The Fixer and Interpreter of Maladies are some of the shorter audiobooks, which means they're perfect for listening to on my commute!

Oh man, I've been really into reading really awesome short stories lately. I just read A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain from this Pulitzer list, which is a collection of short stories about the aftermath of the Vietnam War and its impact on the Vietnamese, and I was blown away by how great it was. Short stories are really hard to get right, so I'm always extra impressed when an author manages to consistently pull it off.

Lonesome Dove looked really interesting, but it's so long, and it's the third in the series, which means I'll have to read the other books first. Though I'm more motivated now that you've endorsed it. ;)
Avid Supporter of the Booty Floolq_traintracks on September 6th, 2016 03:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Lonesome Dove, you don't have to read the other two. It works just fine on its own. :-)
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 6th, 2016 03:40 pm (UTC)
OOoo, good to know! I just looked it up and I hadn't realized that Lonesome Dove was actually published first. Okay, that makes me feel less overwhelmed. :D
Avid Supporter of the Booty Floolq_traintracks on September 6th, 2016 03:42 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've never read the others. And LD is definitely huge but it's one of those that you get so into that you've read a hundred pages and it feels like fifteen instead. Have you seen the mini-series? Because I'd recommend that, too!
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 6th, 2016 04:59 pm (UTC)
Ooo, no, I haven't! I'll have to look into that! :)
nia_kantorka: HGnia_kantorka on September 6th, 2016 04:53 pm (UTC)
The only book on your list I have read and you haven't (so far) is Middlesex. It was amusing and interesting but way too long as the author had a tendency to let their MC ramble on about everything.

I've only read five books of that list and another from the non-fiction winners. Tbh that's my favorite: The Emperor of all Maladies - A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee It's literally a history of cancer treatment throughout the ages. From surgery in old Egypt to the developement of the so called targeted therapies. The author wrote about such a scientific topic in a way everybody's able to follow. And as I try to do the same at work I know how difficult and challenging that can be.
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 6th, 2016 07:53 pm (UTC)
Ahh, yes, I feel like I've heard similiar things about Middlesex! I'm curious to see what I think. :D

I'm not surprised that you haven't read more of them, it's a very American list for sure! I'm not much for non-fiction, to be honest. I have to be really engaged in the topic, and it's pretty rare. :)
Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on September 6th, 2016 05:51 pm (UTC)
What an awesome undertaking. :) I'd join you (at least for the pre WWII ones if I had any time left.) Books you have to read ASAP: The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. One of my favourites.

I just read your and Traintracks thread about short stories. Do you know the New Yorker Fiction Podcast. I've discovered some of the most amazing writers on it - and there comes a writerly discussion about the short story with the podcast. (coincidence of coincidences - this month's New Yorker Fiction Podcast is read by Annie Proulx. :))
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 6th, 2016 09:15 pm (UTC)
The Shipping News sounds really interesting! I shall bump it to the top of the queue!

I've never heard of that podcast, no, but it sounds really cool! I will have to check it out! :D
Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on September 6th, 2016 10:58 pm (UTC)
I love the New Yorker Fiction Podcast so much, the whole concept of it. The editor, Deborah Treisman, is awesome. The format is: An author reads not their own story but a story that they select from all the short stories published in the New Yorker, one that they love or that made an impression on them. First there is the reading, then Treisman and the author talk about the story. Some episode are better than others, obviously, but I've not been disappointed in one of them (well, the first Jonathan Franzen one was a let-down ;)). Perhaps my favourite one is this: Aleksandar Hemon reads "Pnin" by Vladmir Nabokov. The way Hemon and Treisman talk about the story is amazing. There were stories that I listened to and was meh about them, then listened to their talk and GOT what was great about the story. I love it when that happens, and it has happens several times for me with the NYFiction Podcasts.
Avid Supporter of the Booty Floolq_traintracks on September 6th, 2016 11:22 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah! One of my classes in undergrad used that podcast, and it was Junot Diaz's 'How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie)' read by Edwidge Danticat. It was awesome. You have to pay for that, right? I can't remember.
Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on September 6th, 2016 11:54 pm (UTC)
No, it's absolutely free. :D I have it subscribed on iTunes, and the new episode just appears in my podcast feed.

Avid Supporter of the Booty Floolq_traintracks on September 6th, 2016 11:18 pm (UTC)
Oh yes Proulx is amazing. I've read a couple of her novels, plus Brokeback Mountain. I did read one of hers, or started it, and I can't remember which it was now, that felt over-written in such a way that it bugged me. I usually love how she writes, though, and I've wanted to try The Shipping News, so thanks, Vaysh! :-D
Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on September 6th, 2016 11:56 pm (UTC)
I haven't read all of Proulx' novels, but her short-story collections, including (obviously) Brokeback Mountain, and Shipping News. Shipping News to this day is a book a really, really love and admire. I'd love to hear what you and Grace think of it.
katmarajade: readingkatmarajade on September 6th, 2016 06:16 pm (UTC)
What a fun challenge! I hope you update us periodically on your progress. I think the only one on the list that I've read and you haven't already is The Color Purple, which I enjoyed a lot. It was quite awhile ago so it's not very fresh in my mind. ETA: it's a very short book too if you're looking for more quick ones!

I read about 2/3 of The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and had JUST started to really enjoy it (one of those that took a while to hook me) and then accidentally left it in a hotel room (back in my flight attendant days). I was SO pissed! I did eventually buy another copy, which has collected dust on my shelf for years now. I just never got back around to it at first and then after long enough I knew I'd have to reread the first 2/3 for it to make sense, and I just couldn't convince myself to do so. There were only two times in 8 years of flying (and staying in hotels about half the nights of any given month) that I forgot something important in a hotel room. That was one of them. Still stings to recall!

Edited at 2016-09-06 06:18 pm (UTC)
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 6th, 2016 08:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yes, I plan on updating a couple of times with my progress, especially considering how long it will probably take me!

I've read other works by Alice Walker, and I feel like I *might* have read The Color Purple, but given that I can't remember for sure one way or another, I figured I should count it as not read for now. :)

Oh, man, that sucks about that book! Even worse with a book that you took awhile to get into. I totally know what you mean about how difficult it is to pick back up!

nerak_rose on September 6th, 2016 07:49 pm (UTC)
I've only read one book on that list - the colour purple by Alice walker. I read it at age ~16, when I was in boarding school. My English teacher had a box of books we could borrow to read to practice our English, and that was one of them. When I returned it she asked my opinion of it, which amounted to "it was very frustrating in the beginning because there were so many language errors and it was difficult to work out what was going on because of the letters. But then she got better at English and by the end of it I was kind of happy for her, especially because of that." It wasn't until later I found out it was an important Black book? I didn't pick up on the racial things then (being sixteen and not American) and I'd be curious to read it again and see what kind of experience it is today. (My English teacher btw said that I'd been the first student of hers to even notice that there were language errors.)

I own a copy of all the light we cannot see by Anthony doerr in a Danish translation but I doubt I'll read it. The summary doesn't appeal to me at all. I've half a mind to gift it to my mother for Christmas.

Out of curiosity, why the Pulitzer Prize list specifically? What do you believe you'll achieve by reading the books on this list? I'm genuinely curious, because in the past when I've embarked on similar challenges, they've turned out to be a chore after a couple of books, so I've ultimately always ended up deciding that life is too short to burden myself with enlightenment of lauded literary classics of some kind or another, when I could spend my time reading books that are more appealing to me. (Most recently, I tried to read lady chatterley's lover and ended up abandoning it after about 70 pages because it was dreadfully boring. I don't need to read the book to know its impact on society at its time, was my takeaway.) What is there to gain?
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 6th, 2016 09:26 pm (UTC)
I hadn't been sure about All the Light We Cannot See either, but it ended up being one of my favorite books I read last year. :D

I personally really like challenges like this, as it gives me goals and something to strive for. I do a lot of reading for fun, but sometimes there end up being too many options and I end up just not reading at all because I can't decide. I also thought this would be a cool way to see sort of what was on the American people's minds throughout the years, and what is sort of considered some of the best works of fiction.

Obviously I've read books on this list that I didn't personally enjoy, but I've yet to encounter one that I regretted reading or that was such a slog as to feel like a chore. I also personally like lists like this, because they tend to push me outside of my comfort zone and make me pick up books I never would have read. Sure, I might read some books I don't care for, but for everyone of those, I'll find an amazing book that I might never have bothered reading. But yeah, I do tend to enjoy the "lauded literary classics" just as I enjoy steampunk YA and erotic M/M romances. :D

nerak_rose on September 9th, 2016 10:04 am (UTC)
i've read a fair amount of WW2 novels (i had a period where i was obsessed and read everything i could get my hands on) and it's gotten to the point where i can't see what all the light we cannot see (or the book thief, for the matter) will give me that all the other WW2 novels didn't. after a while they start blending together.
my mum would probably enjoy the book though as she likes historical fiction and mystery/crime novels so i think it's better off with her than with me. :)

i can definitely see the appeal of having a premade list to guide one's reading! i've had the issue of not knowing what to read next, too. in that regard lists can be excellent. :) i think my issue is mainly with lists that other people made - i don't like to be told that so and so is a must read, for whatever reason. just as i'd never want to read the pulitzer list, i also don't want to read the hugo awards list, or the finlandia list, or any other list out there. a list is never impartial, anyway - the runner up or third runner up to the prize might be just as important as the actual winner, but where's that list or recognition at?

i don't think i'm making a lot of sense :'D i don't mean that i don't enjoy lauded literary classics (i have, and will continue to do so), i just don't like arbitrary lists of arbitrary importance. and some of those books are truly awful and aren't classics because of how brilliantly written they are, but because the content or circumstance of the book was controversial and brought on some change/discussion or other. as somebody who has read several of those classics anyway, because i stubbornly wanted to know the book behind the fame, i've learned the hard way that it's often a waste of time. next time i want a go at one of those, i'll probably read the wikipedia page first and then decide whether i really need to read the book.
Kay: pic#126089301theimpossiblegl on September 7th, 2016 12:18 am (UTC)
The Hours you must move up the list!!! I ADORE that book and for some reason didn't realize it won a Pulitzer!

And The Shipping News is amazing. Read it in high school or college.
wicked smut goddessgracerene on September 7th, 2016 03:58 pm (UTC)
Ooo, good to know! I'll bump to the front of the list! :D