If you are new to Wendell Berry's work, you might start or continue your reading with one of these. The list is based solely on my own preferences ... of course! The important thing is to start. (Br. Tom)
The Long-Legged House. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1969 (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004).
This is Mr. Berry's first collection of essays ... and it's a great one, culminating in his three early masterpieces of nature writing and memoir: "The Rise," "The Long-Legged House," and "A Native Hill."
Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community. New York: Pantheon, 1992.
A collection of gems, not the least of which are the title essay and "Christianity and the Survival of Creation."
The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1977; Avon Books, 1978; Sierra Club, 1986.
Published over 30 years ago and, unfortunately, as timely as it ever was. This is a powerful critique of who we are in our relation to the land and how we feed ourselves ... and how things might be otherwise.
The Hidden Wound. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970.
In which Mr. Berry explores the heritage and dilemma of racism from his own family, the local culture and the nation.
Standing by Words. San Francisco: North Point, 1983 (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005).
In which Mr. Berry offers his agrarian insights about the importance of language, especially poetry.
What Are People For? New York: North Point, 1990.
Rich reflections on and critiques of the ways we live. How could you not read a book with this title?
Non-Fiction Compilations (Re-Gatherings from Originals)
Recommended if you are seeking a convenient overview of Berry's thought concerning Agrarian Perspectives, Farming and Food Issues, and Economic Woes and Imperatives. Each volume is packed with essential essays.
The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry. Ed. Norman Wirzba. Washington, D. C.: Counterpoint, 2002.
Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2009.
What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2010.
Fiction - Short Stories
That Distant Land: The Collected Stories. Washington, D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004.
To date, this is the most complete gathering of Port William stories, arranged chronologically (by plot) from 1888 to 1986. There are at least fourteen uncollected stories out there (published only in magazines). One would guess that these will be published in A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership, which is scheduled for publication in October 2012.
But please note that, if you can find them, the individual collections of The Wild Birds, Fidelity, and Watch With Me are wonderfully focused, intentionally crafted journeys, as well.
Fiction - Novels
Each of the novels is richly rewarding in its own way, read in any order. But here are my favorites in no particular order (though one could do worse than to start with A Place on Earth):
A Place on Earth. Boston: Harcourt, Brace, 1967 (revised North Point,1983; Counterpoint, 2001).
The Memory of Old Jack. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich 1974. (revised Counterpoint 2001).
Jack Beechum's life in his place.
Nathan Coulter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960 (revised North Point, 1985).
Mr. Berry's first novel, in which he discovers Port William and some key participants in the membership.
Remembering. San Francisco: North Point, 1988.
An adult Andy Catlett comes to grips with his own realities.
Hannah Coulter. Washington, D.C.: Shoemaker & Hoard. 2004.
Nathan's widow tells her story.
Jayber Crow. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2000.
Port William's barber tells his story.
A World Lost. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1996.
Andy Catlett explores the circumstances of his uncle's murder.
New Collected Poems. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2012.
This is an indispensable gathering of Berry's poetry, but it does not include The Sabbath Poems.
A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1998.
The Sabbath Poems are Mr. Berry's most fruitful poetic project. Sabbaths from 1998 to 2004 are in Given: New Poems. And those from 2005 to 2008 are in Leavings. This is another major re-collection that is waiting to happen.
The Mad Farmer Poems. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2008.
There is no shortage of "attitude" and insight in these deeply loved and widely cited poems, gathered here (with extras) in a very handsome edition.