New reading goal: National Book Award for Fiction

New goal, starting today: Read all the winners of the National Book Award for Fiction between now and next April.

After tracking what I’ve read from the various lists from the Pulitzer, the Man Booker, the Book Critics Circle, I’ve realized that I tend to like what the National Book Award picks best, so, why not read them all?

The National Book Award started in 1950, so I have some catching up to do. Let the NBA Challenge begin!

Of the books that have received this award so far, I have read 15 to date.

Thus, here are the books I still need to read, in chronological order:

  1. 1950: The Man with the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren
  2. 1951: The Collected Stories of William Faulkner by William Faulkner
  3. 1952: From Here to Eternity by James Jones
  4. 1955: A Fable by William Faulkner
  5. 1956: Ten North Frederick by John O’Hara
  6. 1957: The Field of Vision by Wright Morris
  7. 1958: The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
  8. 1959: The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud
  9. 1960: Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
  10. 1961: The Waters of Kronos by Conrad Richter
  11. 1962: The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
  12. 1963: Morte D’Urban by J. F. Powers
  13. 1964: The Centaur by John Updike
  14. 1965: Herzog by Saul Bellow
  15. 1966: The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter
  16. 1967: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
  17. 1968: The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder
  18. 1969: Steps by Jerzy Kosinski
  19. 1973: Augustus by John Williams
  20. 1973: Chimera by John Barth
  21. 1974: A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer
  22. 1974: Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  23. 1975: Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
  24. 1975: The Hair of Harold Roux by Thomas Williams
  25. 1976: JR by William Gaddis
  26. 1977: The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner
  27. 1978: Blood Tie by Mary Lee Settle
  28. 1979: Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien
  29. 1980: The World According to Garp by John Irving
  30. 1981: Plains Song by Wright Morris
  31. 1981: The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
  32. 1982: Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
  33. 1982: So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
  34. 1984: Victory over Japan: A Book of Stories by Ellen Gilchrist
  35. 1985: White Noise by Don DeLillo
  36. 1986: World’s Fair by E. L. Doctorow
  37. 1987: Paco’s Story by Larry Heinemann
  38. 1988: Paris Trout by Pete Dexter
  39. 1989: Spartina by John Casey
  40. 1990: Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
  41. 1994: A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis
  42. 1995: Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth
  43. 1996: Ship Fever and Other Stories by Andrea Barrett
  44. 1997: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
  45. 1998: Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
  46. 2000: In America, Susan Sontag
  47. 2002: Three Junes by Julia Glass
  48. 2003: The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard
  49. 2004: The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck
  50. 2005: Europe Central by William T. Vollmann
  51. 2006: The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
  52. 2007: Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
  53. 2008: Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen
  54. 2009: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
  55. 2010: Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
  56. 2012: The Round House by Louise Erdrich
  57. 2013: The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

I’m going to start with Herzog, because that’s up next in my book club queue, so it’s perfect timing.

The downside is that there are books on here that I’m not looking forward to, and this is a very man-heavy list. I’ve also done my best to avoid all of Updike and most of Roth thus far, le sigh. And so many war novels get so many prizes! But I’m committed.

Any advice from this list on what I should tackle after Herzog?

4 thoughts on “New reading goal: National Book Award for Fiction

  1. What an awesome idea! I’m excited for you to read The Round House. I got hooked on Erdrich in college and loved this book more than all her others combined, which is saying a lot since they’re all phenomenal.

  2. I’ve only read two books from this list. Cold mountain I enjoyed but wasn’t enthralled. The moviegoer I wasn’t sure what to think of when I finished. I plan to read that again someday and fully expect to love it. Started charming billy but never finished because I had too many other books going, but I’d like to give it another go.
    I just started The Water is Wide (by Pat Conroy) today and so far loving it. Not on your list, but Have you read it?

    1. I haven’t actually read Pat Conroy before; thanks for the rec! I have had “The Moviegoer” on my to-read list for a long time now; I deeply disliked Percy’s novel “Love in the Ruins,” so I have been loath to return to him, but I’ve heard several fans say “The Moviegoer” is probably his strongest (along with, perhaps, “Lancelot”), so we’ll see!

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