The Fiction Project

Reading Lists & Discussion Guide


First, make sure you learn what the Fiction Project is all about and how it works

Then, dive into these suggested fiction reading lists curated by our advisors. These lists are meant to kick start your choice of books for each topic; you can choose books from these lists or choose others. The lists are by no means exhaustive. If you have a suggestion for a particular book, please let us know. Just remember that books should be fiction – not memoirs – and that for each topic, you'll choose one book from each of the three time periods. Or, if you're pressed for time, choose two books, just making sure each is from a different time period. 

Once you choose your books, make sure to sign up and let us know what you'll be reading. Lastly, consider looking at our discussion guide prior to beginning. 

Explore the reading lists for each of our topics: Citizenship, Families & Community, Religion, Safety & Security, Work & Money, Sports (a topic that can establish common ground if you don't know where to start with your reading partner), and a mini list of Sci Fi & Government.

Reading List: Citizenship

Citizenship can include topics such as: immigration, refugees, the border wall, race, ethnicity, and more.


Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison
Publication Date: 1952

Native Son
Richard Wright
Publication Date: 1940

No-No Boy
John Okada
Publication Date: 1957

My Ántonia
Willa Cather
Publication Date: 1918

Nella Larsen
Publication Date: 1928

1969 - 2002

Breath, Eyes, Memory
Edwidge Danticat
Publication Date: 1994

The Color Purple
Alice Walker
Publication Date: 1982

In the Skin of the Lion
Michael Ondaatje
Publication Date: 1987

Native Speaker
Chang-rae Lee
Publication Date: 1995

E.L. Doctorow
Publication Date: 1975


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publication Date: 2013

Toni Morrison
Publication Date: 2012

A Short History of Women
Kate Walbert
Publication Date: 2009

The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Publication Date: 2015

Underground Airlines
Ben H. Winters
Publication Date: 2016

Reading List: Families & Community

Families & Community can include topics such as: race, gender, sexuality, bathroom bills, and more.


Go Set A Watchman
Harper Lee
Completed in 1957 (Published 2015)

The Good Earth
Pearl S. Buck
Publication date: 1931

The House of Mirth
Edith Wharton
Publication date: 1905

Their Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston
Publication date: 1937

The Wall
Marlen Haushofer
Publication date: 1962


The House on Mango Street
Sandra Cisneros
Publication date: 1984

The God of Small Things
Arundhati Roy
Publication date: 1997

My Name Is Asher Lev
Chaim Potok
Publication date: 1972

The Poisonwood Bible
Barbara Kingsolver
Publication date: 1998

White Teeth
Zadie Smith
Publication date: 2000


Big Little Lies
Liane Moriarty
Publication date: 2014

Exit West
Mohsin Hamid
Publication date: 2017

Yaa Gyasi
Publication date: 2016

Julie Anne Peters
Publication date: 2006

Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Ishiguro
Publication date: 2005

Reading List: Religion

Religion can include topics such as: faith, spirituality, church and state, and more.


The Chosen
Chaim Potok
Publication date: 1967

Elmer Gantry
Sinclair Lewis
Publication date: 1927

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
C.S. Lewis
Publication date: 1950

The Power and the Glory
Graham Greene
Publication date: 1940

Shusaku Endo
Publication date: 1966


Jayber Crow
Wendell Berry
Publication date: 2000

The Life of Pi
Yann Martel
Publication date: 2001

The Poisonwood Bible
Barbara Kingsolver
Publication date: 1998

A Prayer for Owen Meany
John Irving
Publication date: 1989

The River Why
David James Duncan
Publication date: 1983


Abide With Me
Elizabeth Strout
Publication date: 2006

Marilynne Robinson
Publication date: 2004

The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseni
Publication date: 2003

Ordinary Grace
William Kent Krueger
Publication date: 2013

The Shack
William Paul Young
Publication date: 2007

Reading List: Safety & Security

Safety & Security can include topics such as: terrorism, gun laws, military intervention, and more.


Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
Publication date: 1932

The Comedians
Graham Greene
Publication date: 1966

Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury
Publication date: 1953

Lord of the Flies
William Golding
Publication date: 1954

Suite Française
Irène Nemirovsky
Completed: 1942 (Published 2004)


Breakfast of Champions
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Publication date: 1971

The Children of Men
P.D. James
Publication date: 1992

Gorky Park
Martin Cruz Smith
Publication date: 1982

The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood
Publication date: 1998

Pat Barker
Publication date: 1991


The Attack
Yasmina Khadra
Publication date: 2005

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
John Boyne
Publication date: 2006

Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away
Christie Watson
Publication date: 2011

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lionel Shriver
Publication date: 2003

When She Woke
Hillary Jordan
Publication date: 2011

Reading List: Work & Money

Work & Money can include topics such as: poverty, class, welfare, economics, and more.


The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Carson McCullers
Publication date: 1940

The Jungle
Upton Sinclair
Publication date: 1906

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
Betty Smith
Publication date: 1943

The Winter of Our Discontent
John Steinbeck
Publication date: 1961

Louisa May Alcott
Publication date: 1873


A Bend in the River
V.S. Naipaul
Publication date: 1979

July's People
Nadine Gordimer
Publication date: 1981

The Milagro Beanfield War
John Nichols
Publication date: 1988

The Siege of Krishnapur
J.G. Farrell
Publication date: 1973

Tortilla Curtain
T.C. Boyle
Publication date: 1995


All the Ugly and Beautiful Things
Bryn Greenwood
Publication date: 2016

The Help
Kathryn Stockett
Publication date: 2009

The Moor's Account
Laila Lalami
Publication date: 2015

Ian McEwan
Publication date: 2005

Winter's Bone
Daniel Woodrell
Publication date: 2006

Reading List: Sports

This reading list is a bridge to bring people together — even if they are on different sides of the aisle — about the American love of sports.


The Black Stallion
Horse racing
Walter Farley
Publication date: 1941

National Velvet
Horse racing
Enid Bagnold
Publication date: 1935

The Professional
W.C. Heinz
Publication date: 1958

The Sun Also Rises
Ernest Hemingway
Publication date: 1926

The Universal Baseball Association, Inc.
Robert Coover
Publication date: 1968


Double Fault
Lionel Shriver
Publication date: 1997

The Fight
Norman Mailer
Publication date: 1975

The Golf Omnibus
P.G. Wodehouse
Publication date: 1973

The Great American Novel
Philip Roth
Publication date: 1973

North Dallas Forty
Peter Gent
Publication date: 1973


The Art of Fielding
Chad Harbach
Publication date: 2011

Calico Joe
John Grisham
Publication date: 2012

The End of Baseball
Peter Schilling Jr.
Publication date: 2006

Dairy Queen
Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publication date: 2006

Mike Lupica
Publication date: 2007

Mini Reading List: Sci Fi & Government

Topics include: government's role in society, merits and failings of government, citizen distrust in government, types of government, and more

Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
Publication date: 1931

The Dispossessed
Ursula K. Le Guin
Publication date: 1994

Gordon R. Dickson
Publication date: 1960

Frank Herbert
Publication date: 1965

Forever Peace
Joe Haldeman
Publication date: 1997

Isaak Asimov
Publication date: 1951

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Robert A. Heinlein
Publication date: 1966

Starship Troopers
Robert A. Heinlein
Publication date: 1959


Discussion Guide

Use this discussion guide to spark a conversation after you read the books. They are a starting point and not mandatory. Use some or all, or come up with your own questions. Or, just talk. When should you talk? That's entirely up to you and your partner. You can talk a few times while reading the books, after reading the first book and before starting another, or after you've read all the books on your topic. 

Just make sure that once you and your reading partner have had a conversation about all your chosen books, that one of you answers our questionnaire and submit your observations and revelations to our blog. 



  • Did you like the book?

  • How does this book make you feel?

  • What did think about the ending? Was it surprising, predictable, disappointing?

  • What wasn't in the story? What would you have wanted to know about the setting, the back story, or characters that wasn't in the book?


  • Is this book’s plot similar to a situation you've experienced? How?

  • This is fiction; what about the plot sounds plausible? What would you be afraid of or look forward to if the plot became reality?


  • Which character is most admirable or sympathetic? Which least? If you could correlate these two characters to public figures today, who would they be?

  • What life experiences or situations have formed the characters?

  • Who are the main characters and what do you think they would look like physically? What does that mean to your interpretation of the book?

  • Which character was the most surprising to you and which were the most clichéd? Why?

  • Choose a conflict or dilemma from the book that stands out. How did you and your reading partner feel about how the character responded to it?




  • What is the setting/place of the books? Does it sound similar to your own home town or does it sound realistic or plucked from fantasy, or somewhere in between?


The author

  • What do you think is the author's background? Do you think they just wanted to tell an interesting story or did they have a goal or agenda in mind?  

  • What do you think of the choice of title? Why do you think the author chose that title?

  • Have you read any other books by the author? How does this one connect to the other/s?