Top Recommendations

Students often ask me for literature (using the broad definition here) recommendations. Below is a working list of some of my favorite texts across the genres, mediums, and modes. Last updated November 2021.


Books, Fiction 

  • Jane Austen, Emma
  • Michael Cunningham, The Hours
  • Michael Cunningham, A Home at the End of the World
  • Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
  • Lee Hutch, Molly’s Song
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland
  • Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe 
  • William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, or What You Will 
  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
  • Maria Tatar, ed., Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World
  • Monique Truong, Bitter in the Mouth
  • Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Books, General

  • Daniel Jurafsky, The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu
  • Jerry Mander, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television
  • Frank Warren, ed., PostSecret (any of the books)

Books, History 

  • Michael C. C. Adams, The Best War Ever: America and World War II (first edition!)
  • Bonnie S. Anderson and Judith P. Zinsser, A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present
  • Carlos Fuentes, The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World
  • Michael P. Johnson and James L. Roark, Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South
  • Miguel A. De La Torre, Reading the Bible from the Margins
  • Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust 
  • Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance–A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power
  • Richard Plant, The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals
  • Matthew Restall, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest
  • George J. Sanchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945
  • Charles Seife, Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
  • John Shelby Spong, Why Christianity Must Change Or Die
  • Phil Zuckerman, Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions

Books, History (reads like a novel)

  • Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil’s Highway
  • Anand Giridharadas, The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas
  • Peter Hessler, Country Driving : A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory
  • Erik Larson, Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
  • Amy Ellis Nutt, Becoming Nicole: Transformation of an American Family
  • Helmut Walser Smith, The Butcher’s Tale: Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town

Books, Memoir/Autobiography  

  • Samra Habib, We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir 
  • Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
  • Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi 
  • Yolanda Pierce, In My Grandmother’s House: Black Women, Faith, and the Stories We Inherit

Books, Writing 

  • Joseph M. Williams, et al., Style: Lessons in Grace and Clarity

Books, Theory 

  • Benedict Anderson, Imagined Community 
  • Meg-John Baker, Queer: A Graphic History
  • Cordelia Fine, Delusions of Gender
  • J. Jack Halberstam, Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal
  • Sean Hall, This Means This, This Means That: A User’s Guide to Semiotics
  • George Ritter, The McDonalidization of Society 
  • Jane Ward, Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men
  • Jane Ward, The Tragedy of Heterosexuality 
  • Susan Wendell, The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability 
  • Anything by Susan Sontag, by Michel Foucault, by bell hooks, by Virginia Woolf

Academic Articles

Films, Fiction 

  • Antonia’s Line (1995)
  • Bent (1997)
  • Crazy in Alabama (1999)
  • The Hours (2002)
  • My Name is Khan (2010)
  • Orlando (1992)
  • Mildred Pierce (1945)
  • Shoulder Arms (1918)
  • Weekend (2011)
  • Almost anything with Meryl Streep or with Toni Collette 

Films, Documentary 

  • The Mask You Live In (2015)
  • Samsara (2011)

Fiction, Television 

  • Lucifer (2016-2021)
  • Scott & Bailey (2011-2016)
  • Sense8 (2015-2018)
  • The Good Place (2016-2020)
  • Schitt$ Creek (2015-2020)


  • Anything by Amanda Marshall, by Jennifer Hudson, by Linkin Park, by Nina Simone, by Postmodern Jukebox, by Tyler Glenn,  
  • My iTunes playlist of current top favorites can be found here