1. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez. The great American novel, which just happens to be from South America.
2. “Ulysses” Blame James Joyce for making me a mystery writer. I read this and stopped pretending I could ever write a serious novel.
3. “Our Lady of the Flowers” by Jean Genet. Rudely woke me from my provincial, small-town view of the world.
4. “Day of the Jackal” by Frederick Forsyth. This was where I stopped being a book snob, and started loving books to death.
5. “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. I’m keen on coming-of-age novels, probably because I’m still coming of age.
And so you ask: are these Patterson’s five most important books or the five he wants us to know about? After all, if you were to sit down and draft a list of books that should be a mega-bestselling American author’s favorites, it would look an awful lot like this. Or maybe that’s the point of the exercise? Although, looking at Patterson’s schedule, he probably is way too busy to read. As Newsweek points out, Patterson has appeared on The Simpsons and has six (count ’em) books coming out this year.
Of the 15 or so authors Newsweek has polled thus far, Patterson’s is likely the name closest to a household world, though the others are all certainly esteemed and even renowned, including Michael Ondaatje, David Hajdu, Walter Mosley, Harold Bloom, Nathan Englander, Gay Talese and Geraldine Brooks.
Hat tip to Sarah Weinman.