- A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
A strange man is coerced into hunting for a sheep, which ends up being the least-strange part of his adventure.
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- Bellwether by Connie Willis
A charming story about what causes fads and how to predict them. The answer lies in sheep, of course.
- The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi
The sheep in this novel is not exactly what you would expect. Suffice to say, it talks and has other humanlike attributes. Any more would give up the book’s most accomplished twist.
- Independent People by Halldór Laxness
Wikipedia calls this an “epic” novel, but I must respectfully disagree. It is a mostly depressing tale of sheep farmers in Iceland; its unexciting tone seems to accurately reflect the boring lives they lead.
A common theme in these works is sheep unintentionally manipulating the lives of people, by pulling them along into paths they did not expect. This is especially interesting since sheep are generally associated with following, not leading.
Since I try to be too clever by thirds, this list is slightly more than it claims.
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The depressing classic that most people read in high school tells of the title character and his life in a gulag. Hey, at least it’s only one.
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The two cities being, of course, London and Paris. Contrasting pairs show up in Dickensian fashion all over the novel, most prominently in the dual main characters of Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton.
- The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Honorable Mention: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. I had to go with swordfights, war, and betrayal over humorous anecdotes, picturesque scenery, and the Thames.
- The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
The second Sherlock Holmes novel, it has the distinct advantage of avoiding strange forays into Mormon life. The romantic elements are at best half-baked, however.
- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Though probably Vonnegut’s most famous novel, it’s hardly his best. Stick with Cat’s Cradle for science fiction or Mother Night for World War II.
- Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello
Fun fact: this play was too confusing to audiences, leading to mixed receptions, until Pirandello clarified what it was about. If only James Joyce had done the same.
- The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The tale of witches and the Pyncheon family probably did not inspire the similarly-named author, although it did inspire H. P. Lovecraft.
- Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
This was never as popular as Little Women or its sequels, but you’ll have to excuse me as I had some trouble with this number (and I really didn’t want to resort to Janet Evanovich).
- Billiards at Half-Past Nine by Heinrich Boll
The recent translation of what most consider the Nobel Laureate’s best work is supposed to be quite good.
- Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie
I thoroughly enjoyed two of Sherman Alexie’s books, but haven’t yet gotten to this collection. I can only imagine it’s enjoyable as well.