Forget all you sci-fi kids.
"Complications" by Atul Gawande. Significantly better and more interesting than mary Roach's "Stiff" which is in a similar genre. His sequel to "Complications" does not quite follow thru but "The Checklist Manifesto" is worthwhile.
"A Wild Sheep Chase" by Huraki Murakami. No one has a name in this novel. Blew my mind. Piece of mastery. I'm not a murakami fanboi but this book, this book is great.
"100 Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - this is magic realism done really, really right.
"Breakfast of Champions" by Kurt Vonnegut. (Really, read any of the "A" graded Vonneguts - he graded them himself - what is most important about Vonnegut is his style and how it was revolutionary and often revolutionizes or dramatically impacts his readers' approach to and takeaware from how one can write fiction)
if you haven't read it, read Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends and Influence People"
If you want good quality sci fi that will defy your expectations of both the author and the novel itself read "Eye of the Dragon" by Stephen King
Read these short stories:
- A&P by John Updike
- The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman Perkins
- A Rose For Emily by Faulkner
- any parts of Dubliners you can - Joyce
- Black and White by Dorothy Parker
- read the Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Coleridge)
- then listen to the Metallica version
- read Christobel, also by Coleridge
- read "The Hours" by Michael Cunningham
- fucking read Beowulf, but ONLY Seamus Heaney's version or I guess JRRT
- read "Crooked" by Laura McNeil