The Monarch Writer’s Canon

We had a discussion on the concept of a ‘Literary Canon’ and how it is a positive force for signaling strong works one wants to call attention to, but can also be a force of exclusion which lacks a diversity of voices. We decided the idea of a Canon is best as a guide and not an official declaration of merit, and we put together our own Canon of works that our members find essential to our own world and voices. Consider it a list of recommendations from The Monarch Writers to you.

Books & Short Stories

100 years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A Boy’s Life – Robert McCammon

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers

A Scanner Darkly – Philip K. Dick

All Creatures Big and Small – James Herriott

All Things Bright and Beautiful – James Herriott

Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery

Black and Blue – Anna Quindlen

Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Brooklyn – Colm Toibin (Canonized for being terrible)

Canterbury Tales

Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Cathedral – Raymond Carver

Catherine Called Birdy – Karen Cushman

Cities of the Red Night – William S. Burroughs

Damned – Chuck Palahniuk

Desolation Angels – Jack Kerouac

Dharma Bums  – Jack Kerouac

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

Evelina – Fanny Burney

Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

From the Corner of his Eye – Dean Koontz

Howl, America – Allen Ginsberg

I was a Teenage Fairy – Francesca Lia Block

Invisible Monsters – Chuck Palahniuk

It – Stephen King

Junky – William S. Burroughs

Koko – Peter Straub

Metamorphosis – Kafka

Naked Lunch – William S. Burroughs

Old Yeller – Fred Gipson

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

Radio Free Albemuth – Philip K. Dick

Remembering the Good Times – Richard Peck

Sexus – Henry Miller

Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Sounder – William H. Armstrong

Strangers – Dean Koontz

The Ballad of Mulan (not the movie)

The Canterbury Tales (Wife of Bath) – Chaucer

The Divine Invasion – Philip K. Dick

The History of Emily Montague – Frances Brooke

The Place of Dead Roads – William S. Burroughs

The Road of the Dead – Kevin Brooks

The Rosy Crucifixion – Henry Miller

The Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The Sylph – Georgiana Cavendish

The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith

The Third Mind – William S. Burroughs & Brion Gysin

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K. Dick

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer – Philip K. Dick

The Western Lands – William S. Burroughs

The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

The Yage Letters – William S. Burroughs

Tikki Tikki Tembo – Arlene Mosel

Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller

Tropic of Capricorn – Henry Miller

Ubik – Philip K. Dick

Valis – Philip K. Dick

Visions of Cody – Jack Kerouac

Watchers – Dean Koontz

Welcome to the Monkey House – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls

Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak


Aldous Huxley

Anne Rice

Octavia Butler

Neal Stephenson

Edgar Allen Poe

Vladimir Nabokov

Essays, Non-Fiction, craft, & Etc.

The Artists Way – Julie Camron

The Bible

Bloods – Wallace Terry

Good Readers and Good Writers – Vladimir Nabokov

Meditations – Marcus Aurelius

If I am Missing or Dead – Janine Latus

MLK Jr.’s Speeches

The Only Girl in the Car – Kathy Dobie

On Becoming A Novelist – John Gardner

The Art of Fiction – John Gardner

The Portable MFA

The Politics of Ecstasy – Timothy Leary

The Tao te Ching (Dao de Jing)

Kwaidan – Lafcadio Hearn

Poets & Poetry

Garlic – Robert J. Levy

Osso Bucco – Billy Collins

David Tomas Martinez

e.e. cummings

Maya Angelou

Ralph Waldo Emerson (poet)


Allen Ginsberg


Movies & TV Shows



American History X

Batman Begins

Casualties of War

Cinema Paradiso

The Dark Night

Fight Club

Full Metal Jacket

Leon: The Professional

The Matrix




TV Shows

Breaking Bad


Conan O’Brien


I Love Lucy


Mr. Robot

Mystery Science Theater 3000


Sesame Street

Star Trek the Next Generation

The Outer Limits

The Sopranos

The Walking Dead

The Wire

The X Files

True Blood

True Detective

Twilight Zone



Brand New

Bright Eyes

Built to Spill

Death Cab for Cutie


Godspeed You! Black Emperor



Jets to Brazil

Modest Mouse


Smoking Popes

The Clash

The Decemberists

The Get Up Kids

The Hold Steady

The Mountain Goats

The New Pornographers

The Promise Ring

The Talking Heads

The Weakerthans

Tom Waits