The Final 500

by Seth Rogovoy

I figure if all goes well, I’ve got enough time to read about 500 more books before the lights go out. So I’m making a list of what they should be. I came up with about two dozen books I haven’t read and two dozen I want to re-read.

What would you recommend that I add to my list? Any form: fiction, nonfiction, history, essays, memoir, philosophy, etc. Please add your suggestions in the comments section.



  1. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  2. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  3. The Talmud
  4. Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
  5. My Struggle Vol 4 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
  6. My Struggle Vol 5 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
  7. My Struggle Vol 6 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
  8. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
  9. Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec
  10. ??? by Natalia Ginzburg
  11. The Zohar
  12. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
  13. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
  14. ??? by Will Self
  15. Mao II by Don DeLillo
  16. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  17. The Idiot by Dostoevsky
  18. The Joke by Milan Kundera
  19. The Outline Trilogy by Rachel Cusk
  20. Notes on Camp by Susan Sontag
  21. Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
  22. Seven Years by Peter Stamm
  23. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
  24. Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
  25. The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
  26. Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters by Elie Wiesel




  1. The Bible
  2. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  3. Herzog by Saul Bellow
  4. ??? by Jerzy Kosinski
  5. Existentialism and Human Emotions by Jean-Paul Sartre
  6. The Windup Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  7. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
  8. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism by Gershom Scholem
  9. The Counterlife by Philip Roth
  10. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  11. London Fields by Martin Amis
  12. The Information by Martin Amis
  13. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  14. A Piece of My Heart by Richard Ford
  15. The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
  16. White Noise by Don DeLillo
  17. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  18. The Unforgettable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  19. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
  20. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  21. Money by Martin Amis
  22. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  23. The Periodic Table by Primo Levi
  24. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
  25. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  26. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
  27. Either/Or by Kierkegaard

  8 comments for “The Final 500

  1. Sarah van Leer
    January 28, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    Thank you! Based on some of the ones we have both read, and some on your “to read” list that I have read, I am inspired to check out some of the books on these lists that I haven’t read. A great service!

  2. Larry
    January 28, 2020 at 9:59 pm

    Chronicles by Bob Dylan

    • srogovoy
      January 29, 2020 at 11:38 am

      Hah! I’ve heard of it.

  3. Merlin
    January 29, 2020 at 6:12 am

    I forgot to mention another book that I think is truly spectacular. “The Tin Drum” by Günter Grass.

    • srogovoy
      January 29, 2020 at 11:38 am

      It has now been added to the official list. Thanks.

  4. Dean
    January 29, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Great list, and I was happy to see Master and Margarita at the top. Since you’re younger than I am, I don’t accept that 500 books would be enough. So may I suggest To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson, The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Forde, and The End of the Affair by Graham Greene?

    • srogovoy
      January 29, 2020 at 11:38 am

      Dean: Thanks for the vote of confidence longevity-wise.

  5. February 3, 2020 at 9:06 am


    “Play it as it Lays,” Joan Didion, “The Vagabond,” Colette, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” Ulysses, “The Maytrees,” Annie Dillard, “My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” Otessa Moshfegh, “Mrs. Dalloway,” Virginia Wolfe, “Started Early, Took My Dog,” and “Life After Life,” Kate Atkinson


    “My Kitchen Year,” Ruth Reichl, “Honey from a Weed,” Patience Gray, “The Sexy Years,” Suzanne Sommers, “Astral Weeks, a Secret History of 1968,” Ryan H. Walsh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.