Eleven Encyclopedic Books, Overstuffed with References, That Compel Compulsive Reading

Eleven Encyclopedic Books, Overstuffed with References, That Compel Compulsive Reading

1. Moby-Dick, Herman Melville

2. Finnegans Wake, James Joyce

3. Expelled from Eden, A WilliamVollmann Reader

4. Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, Georges Perec

5. Wittgenstein’s Mistress, David Markson

6. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien

7. Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco

8. The Rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald

9. The Recognitions, William Gaddis

10. Between Parentheses, Roberto Bolaño

11.  The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks, Donald Harrington

6 thoughts on “Eleven Encyclopedic Books, Overstuffed with References, That Compel Compulsive Reading”

    1. GR would fit fine on this list. I can probably think of a dozen other books that would fit on here fine. It’s not meant to be “definitive” — it’s just a list I brainstormed (for fun) on 11/11/11. I’m happy for readers to add their suggestions.


  1. Nice list, but the absolute no-doubt number one in this category, although it’s not a novel, has to be ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’ by Robert Burton.

    Some others:

    The Divine Comedy by Dante
    Ulysses by James Joyce
    Don Quixote by Cervantes
    Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño (nobody said the references had to be real)
    À la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust
    Collected Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges
    The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar (I don’t know if this one would qualify as encyclopedic, but it’s surely overstuffed with references, real and imagined.)
    Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
    Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
    Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais (Raffel translation)
    Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay
    The Education of Henry Adams (preferably the centennial edition published by the MHS)
    The Man without Qualities by Robert Musil


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