8 Authors Whose Work I Want To Complete Before I Die

I may be young, but I have big plans for my life as a reader. Huge plans! I expect to live to be at least 90 years old and you can be sure I will be reading until my very last breath.

OK, perhaps I’m being a tad dramatic. But you know how us book bloggers feel about reading…

The “big” plans I’m talking about are life goals I have set for myself. They are long-term plans that show my commitment to authors who have stood out as remarkable in my eyes and have earned my admiration and respect.  

I specifically have committed to complete the bodies of work of the following 8 authors:

  1. Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  2. Nnedi Okorafor
  3. Sandra Cisneros
  4. Junot Díaz
  5. Louise Erdrich
  6. Haruki Murakami
  7. Octavia E. Butler
  8. Toni Morrison

I don’t think my plans are unrealistic. 65+ years is a long time for reading, and I am in no rush to finish the works listed below.  However, I do want to clarify that I am only committing to their novels and books of short stories. Some of them are prolific writers in other literary formats, so I wanted to rein in the scope and narrow it to their fiction. It’s already a massive list as it is. 

So, without further ado…


Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Benjamin Alire Saenz books


 Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor books

  • Nnedi Okorafor just won a Nebula Award for Binti! That’s wonderful news. What’s even better news is that at least 2 new stories in are in the works for Binti. Exciting times are ahead.
  • Okorafor is a leading voice in Afrofuturism who writes incredible works of fantasy and science fiction centered around women. Her stories are powerful and epic. I am eager to read all her work. Down to every short story and novella.

Sandra Cisneros 

Sandra Cisneros books

  • Sandra Cisneros has become a household name after a long career. But to my surprise, she hasn’t written as many works as I expected. I’ve only read The House on Mango Street. Nothing else yet, but I do own Woman Hollering Creek and A House of My Own. Getting through all her work should be a breeze!

Junot Díaz

Junot diaz books

 

  • I expected Junot Diaz to have written more than 3 books, but that seems to be the extent of his major works so far. Though he is still very young and I foresee him writing many more. He has written short stories and essays in the past, but again, I am only counting major works. The only book of his I have not read is This Is How You Lose Her

Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich books

  • Erdrich will prove to be the most daunting challenge. I have only provided 8 of her novels, but she has written 15 as of 2016. She has also published several works of poetry, nonfiction, and children’s literature, but I will modify my goal to include only her novels. 15 is a much more manageable number than 30+.

Haruki  Murakami

Haruki Murakami

  • Murakami is an international best seller, a celebrity among authors if there ever was one. His writing is uniquely Japanese yet global and universal because it is concerned with issues of identity and the self. Some of his novels give off the impression of being dense and complex, but that only entices me to read them further. I seldom shy away from challenging books. 

Octavia E. Butler

Octavia Butler books

  • Octavia Butler is a legend in Science Fiction and one of the most prominent voices in Afrofuturism. I have only read Kindred, but look forward to my next Butler novel, which will be Parable of the Sower. 

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison books

 

  • Completing Morrison’s novels has been a life goal of mine for a few years now. I have read Song of Solomon, Sula, The Bluest Eye, Beloved, and God Help the Child. I’ve got a solid head start on her work, so I should be able to read all her novels easily in the coming years. 

Discussion:

What authors are on your list? Remember that this is a life-long goal, so you shouldn’t feel intimidated by authors with massive bodies of work. Life is long!

Before anyone mentions it — yes, I do plan to read all of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s work. I have read almost everything she has written, minus Purple Hibiscus and her most recent short story, The Shivering. I didn’t include her on the list because everyone should read her work. 

(I want to thank Izzi for inspiring me to write this post.)


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36 thoughts on “8 Authors Whose Work I Want To Complete Before I Die

  1. This is an epic, epic list! Good luck with it!

    You’ve totally sold me on Nnedi Okorafor! It’s good to see more POC authors in all the genres, especially since she’s a woman writing in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. I’m particularly grabby hands for Zahrah the Windseeker, Binti and Lagoon.

    Why do OC get such terrible covers, usually? (In my opinion.) That isn’t fair.

    Do you have a post that lists starting points for reading more diversely? *stalks your archives*

    It’s definitely not true that books by POC aren’t out there, there’s hundreds and hundreds of them! It’s just finding them. It seems like unless they’re a major author, they don’t get the publicity.

    Thank you for opening my eyes. And burying me under my TBR! 😀

    1. I actually don’t have a blog post for readers who want to start developing more diverse reading habits.

      That’s such a great idea! I will be blogging about that soon. Thank you so much. 🙂

    1. Do you mean from that you can’t comment from the WordPress reader? If so, I don’t think that has ever worked because I have a self-hosted blog, not a WordPress.com blog.

      Or do you meant that you have to go to the full site version of my blog (while reading the mobile version) before you can comment? I never know what is going on with this blog. There are new problems every week.

    1. I’m not sure, honestly. But in theory it shouldn’t work because the Reader is mostly for WordPress blogs. For example, for non-WordPress blogs I follow, I have to go to their websites as well.
      Sorry :/ Sometimes I regret self-hosting.

  2. I had no idea that some of these writers have written so many books. You have some good reading ahead of you, I think. 🙂
    For me, the first writer who pops into my head is Lawrence Hill. But there are so many!! I will have to think about it. The biggest problem with this question is that I imagine the list would grow as I discover new authors, which means the list of books will grow. I’m thinking life still might not be long enough. 😉

    1. Lawrence Hill is a great choice. I will be sure to continue his work in the future. I mean, he just won Canada Reads AGAIN for a reason. So we should all keep our eye on what he does next.

  3. My wifi died just as I posted, serves me right for writing too long comments! Anyway, what a title 😀 But what a cool list!! You can totally do this, some.people even get beyond 100 years 🙂
    I never really connected to the fiction of Diaz and Murakami and prefer their nonfiction. But all the others could be on my list too! I adore Okorafor so mucj and am.going through her works much too quickly! Am.trying to pace myself with Butler since one can run out, ahh! Fell so hard for.Ari and Dante.so will have to read all of Saenz’ works as well.
    Can’t wait to have a regular paycheck to build my personal library. Might do a post about want I want in there before that though, I’m so impatient haha.
    End of super long comment sigh, sorry 😀

    1. My title was very dramatic, wasn’t it? >.< That's the effect I was going for! haha I definitely can do this in the many years of life I have ahead of my self. I'm not sure I want to live to be a 100, though 😛 I do like Diaz, but his writing is very "masculine" if that makes any sense. I think it would resonate more with men in general than with women. Pacing yourself for Butler is a good idea because we know the extent of her work... oh, please do make a post about your personal library. I can't wait for you to graduate and start getting your paid as well. lol Life after university is going to be a bit scary at first, but it's going to be awesome! 😀

  4. Well, that one sent! Haha, anyway, here’s what I wanted to say. I’ve wanted to read Toni Morrison’s works for such a long time! Beloved was recommended to me years ago. I’m willing to give Murakami a chance again, although you’ll remember I didn’t like Kafka on the Shore too much.
    I also really recommend Purple Hibiscus! It’s beautifully written.

    1. I’m pretty sure my host’s servers are being really terrible again, like they usually are. Argh. As I’ve said many times before, I sometimes regret not hosting with WordPress because they make blogging SO EASY. And I have to deal with a bunch of nonsense because my host (iPage) kind of sucks and I’m scared to switch hosts because that sounds like a nightmare. lol

      Anyway, thank you for persevering. I appreciate the effort.

      I’m surprised you haven’t read a Toni Morrison novel. She’s also an author who everyone should read! I recommend The Bluest Eye as your first read because it was her debut and it’s truly dazzling.
      I will get to Purple Hibiscus this year. I hope Ms. Adichie releases a new novel soon!

      1. I’ve been trying to comment on 2 posts and I didn’t know if it was a problem on my end haha. Hopefully this won’t be a long term problem!

        I know, I feel so bad about it! I’ll be sure to pick it up soon 🙂

      2. Don’t be scared to switch! It’s super easy–just make sure you back up EVERYTHING.

        I am going back to WordPress.com but only because I realized that I don’t blog enough to justify the cost of the self-host. However, I’ve had excellent experience with the hosting company I use (Nosegraze, she of Creative Whim and the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin). So!

  5. This is a cool idea. I usually read an author’s entire catalog when I find someone I really like and connect with, so I dig forecasting out who those authors will be. I’ve read Sammy and Juliana by BAS. I remember it being really sad. Do you know where you’re going to start?

    1. Gosh, where am I going to start!?
      I think I will start with Louise Erdrich’s The Round House. I bought it recently and my blog is severely lacking Native American authors, so I will have to fix that very soon.

      For BAS, my next read will be Last Night I Sang To The Monster. I expected it to be sad and haunting as well. Most of his books are.

  6. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on Louise Erdrich. I’ve only read one of her books, The Master Butcher’s Singing Club, and really struggled with it. So much that I cringe whenever I see her name now!! But I keep seeing her books everywhere, and I know many people just love her writing.

    1. The Master Butchers Singing Club is actually one of her better reviewed books by readers. It’s interesting that you didn’t like it at all. I will be reading The Roundhouse first and I will be reviewing it on my blog as well, so stay tuned!

      1. I’m amazed at those good reviews for Master Butchers. I read it for my book club and most of us really disliked the book, but a couple really loved it. The Round House is one that I keep looking at – it sounds very interesting, and her writing is excellent. I’ll be looking forward to your post!

  7. There are some short story collections on this list. I’m 90% sure you know that, but I just wanted to check 🙂
    Then again, if you read only novels, Junot Diaz has only written one novel. Speaking of which, This is How You Lose Her is a bit repetitive and a bit disappointing knowing how talented Diaz is.

    Right now, Kazuo Ishiguro is on my list. I read The Remains of the Day and An Artist of the Floating World last year and fell completely and deeply in love. How Ishiguro writes so effortlessly I will never know.

    I also want to read all the works of my favorite Indonesian author Ahmad Tohari. More than any other Indonesian authors, he gets the balance just right between beautiful prose, dense themes, and accessibility.

    You know, you can write author spotlights if you enjoy reading multiple works by one author. With your reading variety, you could help highlight some lesser-known authors. I said I will write a primer on Indonesian author Leila S. Chudori since September but…. it hasn’t happened yet. I’m hopeless.

    1. I could have sword that I replied to this comment already, haha.
      Anyway, thanks for introducing me to Ahmad Tohari, and I will be checking out Pulang as you recommended.

      I like the idea of an author spotlight, but I don’t think I will be able to do that kind of writing justice until much later in my life. I’m still very young and have so many authors to read. Also, I try to add a lot of variety to my reading, so I jump from author to author, country to country. It keeps me on my toes.
      I could do a spotlight on Chimamanda Adichie and Toni Morrison, but everyone has already read them. I look forward to reading more of Saenz. That man is incredible. I can definitely dedicate an entire post to his writing.

  8. So much agree on the last three, which I’ve read some of. I will absolutely have to add the others to my list now – Dias and Erdrich I’ve heard some about especially, and have been meaning to get to at some point. Thanks for the motivation and great recommendations! 🙂

    1. Hi, Iona. Glad you’re a fan of Morrison and Butler. Everyone should read a least one book by each of them.

      I’m especially eager to read all of Erdrich’s work. I recently bought The Round House, so I will be reading it this summer. She’s someone many people have recommended to me and she’s one of the most prominent Native American authors, so there’s a lot of motivation for me to read her work!

  9. You’ve certainly chosen the best of the best for this goal, Naz! But have you read A Little Life? Judging your reading taste and your quest with spreading awareness for more diverse books (and bloggers) I highly suggest that title. It features captivating diverse characters from different backgrounds that battle with mental illness(es)-there are also a lot of LGBTQ+ mentions and themes that tie in with the story. And the writing is so, so beautiful. I don’t know, I feel like this would be an important and great read for you! (Sorry that may have been random, but after reading this post and your call for more diverse bloggers I couldn’t help but remember that brilliant book.)

    1. Hi, Summer. Yes, A Little Life is on my TBR this summer. I actually met Hanya Yanagihara and have a signed copy! 😀
      Thanks for reminding me I need to read it, though. Unfortunately, I will have to wait a month or two because I just finished two long books and need a break. lol

      1. No way! I’m incredibly jealous! I’ve only talked to her via her social media accounts but she seems like such a lovely person. And awesome. Trust me, it’s a priority read after you recharge. 🙂

  10. Octavia Butler is first on my list of authors whose works I want to read all of; I’ve read four of hers so far and they were all incredible. It’s so sad, though, that the Parable of the Sower trilogy is unfinished, as are the sequels to Fledgling, which was intended as a trilogy as well. She was such an inspirational woman.
    I also want to eventually read all of the books by N.K. Jemisin (I’ve read all of her published works except the novellas), Margaret Atwood, and Jose Saramago. 🙂 Great post!

    1. N.K. Jemisin is incredible. She recently started a Patreon asking her fans to help her quit her day job to become a full-time writer and she met her goal easily! I was happy to help 🙂
      Her voice in so refreshing and the stories she tells are unconventional and bold. I adore her. I also plan to read all her published works, though I just now started.

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