You ask me as a teacher which book should I expect students who want to write to be able to read. I think that they should be able to understand the pivotal works that are out there, even if they might not personally like them. Jane Austen really defined what was to become the nineteenth-century novel. Proust makes the twentieth-century novel possible by moving the action entirely to the interior. Melville was another writer who transformed prose, and ruined his career in the bargain. More contemporary writers such as Marquez with magical realism, and to some degree, Amy Tan and Jamaica Kincaid also redefine what’s possible. Students need to recognize what’s been done, and then work from there.