The Pulitzer Prize Winning Books you should read.

I was shocked several ago to find out that my favourite book of all time, Lonesome Dove had won the Pulitzer Prize.

It was a Western. And they talked about boobs. And they did a lot of spitting. It just wasn’t the sort of book I thought won the Pulitzer Prize.

When I thought of books that won the Pulitzer Prize I thought of War and Peace. Crime and Punishment. That sort of thing. You know, books that required effort, a year and a half and a recently acquired British accent to read. At the very least the book would have to be written by a Russian.

Turns out I was wrong.

Turns out the award can ONLY go to American authors, which explains the curious omission of the entire Shopoholic series. Journalists are given more leeway. Any nationality can win a Pulitzer for journalism as long as they work for an American publication (web or print).


The Pulitzer Prize was established in 1917 by publisher Joseph Pulitzer. And any journalist or novelist can submit their work to be considered for a Pulitzer as long as it fits into one of the Pulitzer categories. And As long as they have the $50 entry fee. Which ironically, a lot of writers don’t.

So as it turns out, the Pulitzer Prize isn’t something that screams “REALLY HARD TO READ BOOK HERE! GET YOUR 1,000 PAGE SNOOZEFEST HERE!”. It actually means, “Get your really good book here”. Winners have included funny books, serious books, Westerns and snoozefests.


If you’re looking for an award winning book to read, these are a few of the Pulitzer Prize winners I’ve read and how I rate them out of four  “♥”‘s.

Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides    ♥♥♥♥  completely fascinating

Empire Falls – Richard Russo  I swear to you I can’t remember a thing about this book. That says a lot.

The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields  ditto for this one. 

Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry ♥♥♥♥ favourite book of all time

A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole ♥♥♥½  absolutely hilarious

To Kill a Mockingbrid – Harper Lee ♥♥♥½ classic


To see a list of the entire Pulitzer Prize winners in the fiction category just click here.

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  1. Brian Horowitz says:

    A year ago I decided to read all the Pulitzer Prize winners in literature, from the most recent to the first one. I’ve now read the last 24. Some I’d already read earlier in life, like Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song.

    My favorite of the last 24 years is The Known World by Edward P. Jones. It is absolutely brilliant. It is about a black slave owner who dies and how it affects his slaves and other people in the fictional central Virginia community. I had no idea that blacks were allowed to own slaves before I started reading the novel. Parts of the book moved me to tears and sometimes a page later, I was laughing hysterically at what I read.

    I’m finishing Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News which I would put somewhere in the middle of the last 24 IMO.

    • Karen says:

      I’m just reading her latest, Barkskins Brian, and I loved it at first but now I’m just finding it long! It is good … but long! ~ karen!

  2. Linda says:

    Oh shoot, sorry I posted this under the wrong section. ugh.

    • Karen says:

      Well you’re banned now. ;) Hey, who knows, maybe the book was worth a Pulitzer, but just didn’t happen to win the year it was published. So … it’s kind of the right place to pos this in that case. ~ karen!

  3. Linda says:

    You have to read The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles! The first bit is terribly violent but it is what happened to these women. The story is about Britt Johnson’s (a freed slave) journey to save his wife after she has been captured by Indians. His resolve to never give up is tremendous. What a brave man this is! I would read a little then throw it down crying saying that I could not finish it, then days later I would have to know what happened next. This went on until I finished the book. You will sit on the edge of your chair.

  4. caryl hodgdon says:

    If you love Lonesome try Annie Proulx’s close range wyoming stories or any of her other western tales. You will adore the characters. Roundhouse by Loise Erdrich is going to be a classic-I highly recommend it. Thanks for the list, I’ll be sharing it for sure.

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