Conversation 53: THE DAILY HAIKU Reading List


On World Book Day 4th March 2021 I posted an announcement asking for your favourite books and book related stories. From the responses received the combined favourites are collated here into a diverse reading list of epic proportions. The top sixteen are collated from the most popular suggestions.


When asked off the cuff for our favourite books I am struck by a natural leaning towards fiction. As we are a group involved in haiku, under the wider umbrella of poetry there is a significant number of poets included in the recommendations but interestingly only a few specific titles – 3 poets make the top sixteen.  Many well known Classics dominate the list and a penchant for favourite childrens’ books but there are some modern literary icons alongside emerging stars. Currently more men than women but more suggestions by women than men!! In the top sixteen currently more dead than alive including all bar two.


Our earliest recommendation is currently Amores by Ovid and our most contemporary suggestion the Apeirogan by Colum McCann.


The reading list, which I hope will grow with more suggestions in the comment thread, has notably very little non-fiction and no plays.


Enjoy browsing the reading list, perhaps accompanied by the wonderful TDH Spotify playlist brilliantly curated by Wendy Houser Blomseth from our musical prompt poll. Are there titles or poets on this list that go with particular pieces of music? Are we developing an overall TDH cultural vibe?


How many of the books have been turned into successful film adaptations? How many have won prestigious literary prizes?  Who do you love from the list? Who is missing? I look forward to more must-reads appearing, some biography, history, science, art and of course always more poetry… please.


Top Fifteen


One Hundred Years of Solitude (1981) and Love in the Age of Cholera (1985)  – Gabriel Garcia Márquez


William Shakespeare’s Tragedies – Macbeth highlighted (1564-1616)


Anything by Dostoevsky (1821-1881) – specifically Crime and Punishment (1866) and The Gambler (1887)


Agatha Christie (1890-1976)


Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte (1847) with one contributor having read four times


Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte (1847)


Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Sense and Sensibility (1811) – Jane Austin


The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (1939)


1984 – George Orwell (1949)


The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini  (2003)


The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame (1908)


Little Women – Louisa May Alcott (1868 and 1869)


Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving (1989)


T S Eliot poetry (1888 – 1965)


Emily Dickinson poetry (1830-1886)


Mary Oliver poetry (1935-2019)



Individual Recommendations



Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll  (1865)

Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift (1726)

Tristram Shandy (9 Volumes) – Laurence Sterne (1759-1767)

Complete Short Stories – Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893)

The Mayor of Castorbridge (1886) and Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) – Thomas Hardy

War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (1869)

Les Misérables – Victor Hugo (1862)

Dracula –  Bram Stoker (1897)

Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert (1856)

The Vindication of the rights of women – Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)

Don Quixote – Cervantes (1605-1615)



20th Century

Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka  (1915)

Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels  (1996)

Beloved – Toni Morrison (1987)

The Secret Agent (1907) and Heart of Darkness (1899) by Joseph Conrad

In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan (1968)

Perry Mason crime novels – Erle Stanley Gardner (1933-1973)

Tom’s Midnight Garden – Philippa Pearce (1958)

Carbonel – Barbara Sleigh (1955 to 1978)

Winnie The Pooh – A A Milne (1882 – 1956)

The Woman Warrior, China Men – Maxine Hong Kingston (1976)

The Famished Road – Ben Okri (1991)

The Bell – Iris Murdoch (1958)

Mr Uppity – Roger Hargreaves (1972)

The Master and Margarita –  Mikhail Bulgakov (1928-1940)

The Color Purple – Alice Walker (1982)

Something Wicked This Way Comes By – Ray Bradbury (1962)

Señora de Rojo Sobre Fondo Gris (Woman in Red on a Grey Background)  – Miguel Delibes (1991)

East of Eden – John Steinbeck (1952)

See above

The Truce The Diary of Martin Stanomé – Mario Benedetti (1960)

Nada – Carmen Laforet (1945)

The Long Ships or Red Orm – Frans G Bengtsson (1941-1945)

The Shipping News – Annie Proulx (1993)

Isle of the Sea Horse – Hesba Fay Brinsmead (1969)

The Origins of Totalitarianism – Hannah Arnedt (1951)

Animal Farm – George Orwell (1945)

The Country of the Blind – H G Wells (1904)

Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier (1997)

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café – Fannie Flagg (1987)

The Lord of the Rings series – J R R Tolkein (1937-1949)

The Stand – Stephen King (1978)

A Little Princess (1905) and A Secret Garden (1911)  – Frances Hodgson Burnett (1905)

Author Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011)

Empire of the Sun – J G Ballard (1984)

Snow Falling on Cedars – David Guterson (1994)

The Silver Darlings – Neil Gunn (1941)

All Quiet on the Orient Express – Magnus Mills (1999)

The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)

Women Who Run With The Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estes (1992

The Gormenghast Trilogy – Mervyn Peake (1946 – 1959)

Three Guineas (1938) and A Writers Diary (1953) – Virginia Woolf

The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy (1997)

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – Audre Lorde (1982)

The Songmaker’s Chair – Albert Wendt (1991)

The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje (1992)

The Little White Horse – Elizabeth Goudge (1946)

I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith (1948)

Anything by Raymond Briggs – (born 1934)


21st Century

Suite Française – Irène Nèmirovsky (2004)

The Little Book of Hygge – Meik Wiking (2016)

Girl, Woman, Other –  Bernadine Evaristo (2019)

Novels by Iain Banks (1954-2013)

Adventures in Form Compendium of Poetic Forms, Rules and Constraints editor Tom Chivers (2012)

Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch (2011)

Terry Pratchett novels (Terry 1948 – 2015)

The Night Circus  (2011) and The Starless Sea (2019) – Erin Morgenstern (2011)

Anything by Neil Gaiman (born 1960)

Where the Wild Things Are –  Mauric Sendak (2009)

Gillespie and I – Jane Harris (2011)

The Gallows Pole – Ben Myers (2017)

Landmarks – Robert Macfarlane (2015)

Roddy Doyle novelist (born 1958)

Marian Keyes – (born 1963)

Patricia Scanlon – (born 1956)

Prodigal Summer – Barbara Kingsolver (2000)

White Dog Fell From the Sky –  Eleanor Morse (2013)

44 Scotland St – Alexander McCall Smith (2004)

Apeirogon – Colum McCann (2020)

Birds Without Wings – Louis de Bernières (2004)

The Mitford series – Jan Karon (1994-2017)

Everything by Margaret Atwood (born 1939)

Author Colin Thubron (born 1939)

Forever Odd – Dean Koontz (2005)

Witch Crafting – Phyllis Curott (2002)

Author Anne Tyler – (born 1941)

The Yellow Rain (La Lluvia Amarilla) – Julio Llamazares (2003)

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khalid Hosseini (2007)

My Struggle The 6 volume cycle of memoirs by Karl Ove Knausgård – 2009-2011

The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins (2006)

The Boy With No Shoes – William Horwood (2004)

The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd (2001)

Fair and Tender Ladies – Lee Smith (1988)

The Sadness of Witches – Janice Elliott (1988)

Notes from an Exhibition – Patrick Gale (2007)

A Spell of Winter – Helen Dunmore (2019)

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr (2015)


Poetry and Poets

Emily Dickinson 1830 – 1886

Sean O’Brien (born 1952)

Marcus Valerius Martialis known as Martial for his twelve books of Epigrams (published AD86 and 103)

Amores by Ovid (16BC)

Jacob Polley (born 1975)

Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

Louise Glück (born 1943)

Ian Duhig (born 1954)

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Elizabeth Barrett-Browning (1806-1861)

Gerald Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Margaret Atwood poetry

May Sarton (1912-1995)

Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense – Charles Bukowski (1986)

Contains Mild Peril – Fran Lock (2019)

Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle anthology (1966)


Thank you to all those who have contributed so far with such splendid suggestions Keith Evetts, Clarence King, Sue Dakin, Oz Hardwick, Yin Mon Tha Tun, Judith Railton, Dave Hubble, Alison Head, Kate Beaufoy, Bernadette O/Reilly, Annemarie Cooper, Jo Smart, Don Morley, Laura Frances Martin, Elsje Winnubst, Catrin Davies, Carolyn Crossley, Tom Fox, Julia Fortier, Maureen Farrelly Baines, Emlyn Boyle, Rupert Mossadeghi, Steev Burgess, Rae Moore, Eva Oliveti, Sara Hirano, Paul Bowersox, Lee Mosswood, Bittor Duce, Debz Ferguson, Lyntha Nelson, Shirley Zanes, Vivien Eliades, Yvonne Ugarte, Carolyn Crossley, Will Riding, Catrin Davies, Elsje Winnubst, Laura Frances Martin, Don Morley and

a beautiful poem BEFORE THE LIGHT GOES OUT by John Lanyon expressing ‘the love that will never betray you’ with some fond literary references.


Fur coats still hang in a dusty wardrobe

Blind Pew’s cane still taps the floor

The fire still burns in Mr Badger’s parlour

Snufkin is sitting on the bridge

Swallow waits in the secret harbour

This is the longest love

The love that will never betray you

The medicine that restores, redeems.





11 Comments on “Conversation 53: THE DAILY HAIKU Reading List”

  1. Love Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy, would like to add Doris Lessing’s Children of Violence series and for children, The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster and A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline de L’Engle.

  2. Another vote for the Gormenghast trilogy; I’d add Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials; anything at all by Margaret Atwood; anything at all by J G Ballard; among detective fiction, anything by Michael Innes (rather old) and Philip Kerr (d. 2018; among poets, Donne, Neruda, Norman MacCaig, Edwin Morgan, Denise Riley, Kathleen Jamie, Carolyn Forché. And — forever — Shakespeare.

  3. Hi Amanda,
    I’m really astonished by the work you’ve done again. Incredible, priceless. At least, for me, a great reference for my readings. Thanks a lot one more time.
    I’d like to add two points to my post about my favourite books;
    1.- I don’t know why, but I thought that poetry books were not expected in the list…
    MIGUEL HERNÁNDEZ was, in my view, poetry himself. His life and poetry are both worth reading. There is a bilingual book about him “The selected poems of Miguel Hernández” edited by Ted Genoways with a foreword by Robert Bly. I read the introduction of another one (ebook) but the one above is much more complete. Additionally, the ebook one has got some inaccuracies.
    There are many more great Spanish poets, men and women, but had I to pick one it’d be, undoubtedly, Hernández.
    I also recommend Antonio Machado.
    Lorca was another big one, another must-read one. In the ebook I’ve mentioned it’s said that they, Lorca and Hernández, were friends…Well, not correct, just the opposite I’d say and Hernández was not the culprit… I admire Lorca’s poetry and so did Hernández but, in some aspects, they were as different as cheese from chalk. Lorca was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, whereas Miguel was born surrounded by lots of goats and an authoritative father.
    Lorca did never help Hernández, he just ignored and tried to avoid him. In my opinion, after reading quite a lot about it, Lorca was obviously aware of the quality of Hernández but he was too arrogant to admit it. He himself was, in his opinion, the best poet at the time and I dare say he envied the talent Hernández was born with. Despite this, after Lorca’s assassination, Hernández wrote great poems in his honour, “Llamo a los poetas” – “I call the poets” for instance, in which he sings to Federico more beautifully than a nightingale. This kind of person was Hernández.
    There are quite a few poems by him made songs by the songwriter “Joan Manuel Serrat”:

    2.- “The holy innocents” (Los santos inocentes), an incredible book by Miguel Delibes was made into a great film. The movie stars Alfredo Landa and Francisco Rabal two great actors. Francisco Rabal was glorious. Both won the Best Actor Award at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival. You’ve got the film in Spanish with English subtitles.
    I can’t really understand how on earth “Señora de rojo sobre fondo gris” by Delibes is not translated into English. Such a book.
    Ok, it’s enough… Sorry for such a long post…
    Bye bye,


  4. Poets: MUST add John Donne, Geoffrey Chaucer, Robert Frost, John Keats, S T Coleridge. Otherwise many individual poems by otherwise patchy poets.

    Non-fiction: Darwin’s The Origin of Species, Heinle and Heinle’s Written in Blood (stunning history of Haiti), Thomas Macaulay’s History of England (fabulous prose writing, some later historians might put it in the Fiction category LOL).

    Too many….

  5. Hi everyone,
    I’d like to add two books to my favourite-list. Both by Patricia Highsmith, whose 100th anniversary this year 2021.
    The books are:
    Edith’s diary
    The price of salt
    I really enjoyed reading both.

  6. Oh my, what a list. It’s hard to imagine adding another book recommendation but I’m just at the end of “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell. Since it’s about William Shakespeare, and a great read, I’ll go ahead and suggest it for your list.

  7. I’d like to recomnend two more books and a film. Both are by the Galician Manuel Rivas, who normally writes in Galician.

    It’s a short story “La lengua de las mariposas” (Butterfly’s tongue). I haven’t found it in English, however, it was made into a really good film which is available with English subtitles. It stars the great Fernando Fernán Gómez. It got the “Goya” awards in 1999 for best adapted screenplay.

    The novel “The Carpenter’s pencil” (El lápiz del carpintero). This book it’s translated into English. A must read one, in my opinion.

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