The Infinite Landscape of the Mind: A Reading List

Cover of "The Blind Assassin"

Cover of The Blind Assassin

With summer’s end and the long, cold days ahead of us, I think now is a good time to get cerebral.

There is a certain type of fiction that is more concerned with the mental and emotional lives of the characters than with the mechanics of plot. This category of novel could be termed psychological fiction, as it explores the infinite landscapes of the human mind. Some authors (Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro) are particularly well known for this type of novel, with William Shakespeare’s Hamlet perhaps the earliest dramatic example.

If you like to delve deeply into a character’s head, here is an extended reading list of some good examples of psychological fiction, organized by author. Add your suggestions to the comments.

Margaret Atwood: Alias Grace; The Blind Assassin; Cat’s Eye

Jane Austen: Persuasion

Russell Banks: The Sweet Hereafter

Robert Clark: Mr. White’s Confession

Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness

Michael Cunningham: The Hours

Stephen Dobyns: The Church of Dead Girls

Bret Easton Ellis: American Psycho

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby

E.M. Forster: Howard’s End

John Fowles: The French Lieutenant’s Woman

William Gibson: Idoru

William Golding: Lord of the Flies

Joe Haldeman: Forever Peace

Michelle Huneven: Jamesland

Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Aldous Huxley: Brave New World

Kazuo Ishiguro: An Artist of the Floating World; Never Let Me Go; When We Were Orphans

Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House; We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Ken Kesey: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Stephen King: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon; Lisey’s Story; Rose Madder

Wally Lamb: She’s Come Undone

John Lanchester: Mr. Phillips

Dennis Lehane: Mystic River; Shutter Island

Yann Martel: Life of Pi

Cormac McCarthy: No Country for Old Men

Carson McCullers: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Ian McEwan: Atonement

Patrick McGrath: Asylum

Herman Melville: Moby Dick

Tim O’Brien: July, July; The Things They Carried

Stewart O’Nan: A Prayer for the Dying

Chuck Palahniuk: Survivor

Ann Patchett: Bel Canto

Tom Perrotta: Little Children

Lisa See: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Robert Louis Stevenson: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Bram Stoker: Dracula

Peter Straub: Koko

Amy Tan: The Joy Luck Club

Donna Tartt: The Secret History

Dalton Trumbo: Johnny Got His Gun

Anne Tyler: The Accidental Tourist

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5 Responses to “The Infinite Landscape of the Mind: A Reading List”

  1. EXCELLENT list! I tend to get more cerebral as the cooler months come on.

    I would add Siri Hustvedt to the list (What I Loved and The Blindfold), Joyce Carol Oates’s novella, Beasts, and Paul Auster in general.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions, Andi. I like to post these lists as ways of getting ideas for other books to read.

  3. 3 F.H.

    Which novels delve deeper into the minds of its central — and not so central — characters than A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses?

  4. I have avoiding reading Joyce up til now — Portrait is waiting on my to read shelf — but I am sure you are right.

  5. Thank you for this list! :)

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