12 Best Cormac McCarthy Books To Spend Your 2020

Cormac McCarthy one the major American novelist, playwright, short-story writer, and screenwriter. His works can be counted on fingers as he has written three short stories, two plays, two screenplays, and ten novels, spanning the Southern Gothic, Western, and post-apocalyptic genres. Yet gained his popularity for his graphic depictions of violence and his unique writing style. His writings can be recognized by its lack of punctuation and attribution, however, he is regarded as one of the greatest contemporary writers.

Nevertheless continuing to work with the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), a multidisciplinary research center. At the SFI, he published the essay “The Kekulé Problem” -2017, which traverses the human subconscious and the origin of language. He announced his next novel, The Passenger, in 2015 but is yet to be released. The author’s fifth novel, Blood Meridian (1985), made on the list of Time magazine’s 2005 100 best English-language books published since 1923 not only that McCarthy won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction for The Road (2006). Till 2010 he had seen all the achievements The Times ranked The Road first on its list of the 100 best fiction and non-fiction books of the past 10 years. It’s a tough choice to find out his best work as he has contributed to the writing world with classic gems. Still here are some amazing books to cherish the unforgettable writing by Cormac McCarthy.

12 best Cormac McCarthy books to learn about contemporary writing:

Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West

Cormac McCarthy Books

Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West is one of the most celebrated work by the author as the Time’s list of 100 best English-language books published between 1923 and 2005 and settled joint runner-up in a poll taken in 2006 by The New York Times of the best American fiction issued in the last 25 years.

No wonder that literary critic Harold Blood considered this book to be “the greatest single book since Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.” The book is unique that takes you to McCarthy’s imagery, rhythms, and prose style, this historically based work is horrifying. It contains violence and merciless content yet is one of the best works. If you really loved to read this genre then this book is a treat for you.

No Country for Old Men

The story revolves around a big question “How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?”. Though this book not one of the most celebrated and accepted books of Mccarthy, most people think that the other books are much more significant. But this book is highly cherished as a film adaptation as an American neo-Western crime thriller and won four academy awards.

The story concerns an illegal drug deal and has much more to feel the thrill and fear at the same time. The book holds a malevolent character, psychotic sociopath Chigurh, who is the embodiment of the emerging drug world. Well, let’s not reveal much and leave the urge for you to read this crime thriller. The book contains powerful themes and ideologies for you to find out the clues and go ahead.

The Road

This 2006 post-apocalyptic novel by American writer highlights the phrase “Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave.” This book has a backstory and that is deeply personal, emerging from his relationship with his 11-year-old son, John, whom he had with his third wife, Jennifer. The Road is severely dark as the book details the journey of a father and his young son over several months, across a landscape trumpeted by an undefined calamity that has slaughtered most of civilization and, in the intervening years, almost all life on Earth.

This epic novel was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction in 2006. The book was adapted to a film of the same name in 2009, directed by John Hillcoat and performed but not on the same register as what the Coen brothers did with No Country.

All the Pretty Horses-The Border Trilogy, Book 1

This book became the heavy reason for author0’s popularity as its romanticism brought the writer much public attention which was entirely opposite to the author’s earlier work. Additionally, the book also won both the awards- the national award in 1992 and the national book critics circle award. The book was also first of McCarthy’s Border Trilogy. This unique book was also was adapted as a 2000 film starring Matt Damon and Penélope Cruz and directed by Billy Bob Thornton. This book is one of a kind and is a must-read for any book fonder.

The Crossing – Border Trilogy Book 2

The Crossing is a coming of age novel is the second installment of McCarthy’s “Border Trilogy”. The plot takes place around the second world war and the story tells of three journeys taken from New Mexico to Mexico. The book got recognition for being a more melancholic novel than the first of the trilogy, without returning to the hellish bleakness of McCarthy’s early novels. Well it is said that most of the protagonists are people of few words and so dialogues are few and concise. The book fulfills the promise of All the Pretty Horses and at the same time gives readers work that is darker and more visionary, a novel with the unstoppable momentum of a classic western and the lamenting power of a lost American myth.

Child of God

Cormac McCarthy’s third book, Child of God is based on actual events. Talking about chronologically, the books can blur together if not for their stylistic similarity, then for their thematic identity and capacity for whimsical analysis. The Child of God is highly memorable for the sheer wickedness of Lester Ballard who is portrayed as both as a victim and a victimizer, and nonetheless a “child of God,”.

The story portrays different personalities in person and what has made in the image of God. The novel’s end juxtaposes the bagging and disposal of Lester Ballard’s perishable flesh with that of his victims, raised from their cave to be entombed by the state.  Child of God established the author’s curiosity and interest in using extreme isolation, perversity, and destruction to represent human experience.

McCarthy has a habit of neglecting literary conventions such as he does not use quotation marks and switches between several styles of writing such as matter-of-fact descriptions, almost poetic prose, and colloquial first-person narration. This literary clarifies that for being a loveable writer you don’t have to be grammatically correct all you need is passion and exact way of presenting your true imagination in front of the world.


This semi-autobiographical and compelling novel has as its protagonist Cornelius Suttree. Who has repudiated his former life of privilege to become a fisherman on the Tennessee River living alone and in exile in a disintegrating houseboat on the wrong side that is close by Knoxville.

His outburst on the edge of the community as eccentrics, criminals, and the poverty-stricken. Suttree was penned over a 20-year span and is a passage from McCarthy’s previous novels, being much longer, more sprawling in the edifice, and conceivably his funniest book of all time. The novel starts with Suttree observing police as they pull a suicide victim from the river. And there are many break downs that you need to sail along with the novel.

Cities of the Plain- Border Trilogy Book 3

Cities of the Plain is the final volume of the author’s Border trilogy. This sumptuous and magnificent new novel was favorably reviewed in The New York Times, though the reviewer criticized McCarthy’s violent prose and arcane language, observing “One begins to miss the simple summoning of cowboy life that is so provoking in the earlier novels. The story belongs to John Grady Cole and Billy Parham in 1952 who are working as ranch hands in New Mexico, not far from the proving grounds of Alamogordo and the cities of El Paso and Juarez.

The author takes the jump when their life made up of trail drives and horse auctions and stories told by campfire light. They valued life as they knew it was going to change forever. And that change comes when John Grady falls in love with a beautiful, ill-starred Mexican prostitute and sets in motion a chain of events as violent as they are unstoppable. This beautiful novel is filled with sorrow, humor, and awe, Cities of the Plain is a genuine American epic that should definitely not be missed by a classic lover.

Outer Dark

This classic gem is way ahead of its time and is the second novel by Cormac McCarthy. The novel details the story about a woman named Rinthy who bears her brother’s child. His brother leaves the baby in the woods and tells her that his newborn baby died of natural causes. Finding out that her brother is lying, she sets forth alone to find her son.

Both brother and sister wander through the countryside in order to find the baby gets thrashed by three terrifying strangers, toward an apocalyptic resolution. The creation of Outer Dark is a relentlessly rebellious one and it represents a gestalt of absurdity and incoherence, a world that is completely strange and unapproachable.

The Orchard Keeper

First-ever written book by Cormac McCarthy and won the award in 1966 William Faulkner Foundation Award for a notable first novel. ‘The Orchard Keeper’ details about the John Wesley Rattner, a young boy, and Marion Sylder, an outlaw and bootlegger who, unbeknownst to either of them, has killed the boy’s father. This book has a very unusual approach and was never seen before in American writing. The Orchard Keeper themes are highly biblical in nature and express the two individual mentoring the same relationship.

The Sunset Limited

The Sunset Limited is a play penned by Cormac McCarthy that expresses a startling encounter on a New York subway platform that leads two strangers to a run-down tenement where a life or death decision must be made. The book captivates your attention with the conversation happening in that small apartment, Black and White, as the two men are known that leads each back through his own history, mining the origins of two fundamentally opposing world views.

The Sunset Limited is not only beautifully crafted but its consistently thought-provoking, and deceptively intimate work by one of the most insightful writers of all time. The book emphasizes the aim to discover the meaning of life. Deft, spare, and full of artful tension.

The Stonemason: A Play in Five Acts

This is another gem from the award-winning writer that comes a taut, expansively imagined drama about four generations of an African American family. The play is rarely produced as it concerns a Southern black family based on one McCarthy spent many months working with. The beauty of the play is it unwraps the layer of society has draped that include very different personality for what they actually have.

The play involves the setting of Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1970s. The Telfair’s are stonemasons and have been for generations. This dishonored family trade that Cormac McCarthy has crafted is a drama that bears all the hallmarks of his great fiction. His keen observation of the physical world, the language that has the bite of common speech, and the force of Biblical prose and extraordinary command on speech that can make you feel each character of the play.

Scenes of the Crime

Scenes of the Crime though not being highly recognized worldwide yet loved by the people who are fond of this genre. Excerpted and adapted from the screenplay for the forthcoming movie “The Counselor” is a must-read. Though this book doesn’t much to explain yet is counted under the author’s significant work.


Cormac McCarthy born is July 20, 1933, is celebrating his time of success and popularity as one of the greatest contemporary writers. National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author have gifted us with some of the most magnificent masterpieces of his writing in his whole writing career. Well, it is the highly asserted fact that despite his lack of punctuation and attribution, however, he is regarded as one of the greatest contemporary writers. The author’s genre definitely falls into the darker side and that is proven by most of his work that includes “Outer Dark”, “Child of God”, “The Road” and more similarly it can also be seen that author is a die-hard writer of crime thrillers with books like “Scenes of Crime, “No Country for Old Men” and more.

The author is undoubtedly talented and has proved significantly that you do not require the correct grammar with punctuation to pen your unusual imagination if you have the ability to show your best words to the world you got everything. The above mentioned were some of the greatest read by the author. Do let us know in the comment section how you liked this article and if you have any queries you can ask them as well by commenting.

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