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Augusta Noble
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
To say that Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a book that captured the zeitgeist of the late 1970s and the 1980s is an understatement. Beginning as a BBC comedy radio series, it would mutate into versions in print, on stage, in comics, and on screens small and big, becoming an ...show more
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Half of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Set in Nigeria during the decade culminating in the 1967–70 Biafran war, a secession conflict that left more than a million dead from violence and famine, this story is at once a historical drama and a tale of family struggles and romances gone right and wrong. Half of a Yellow Sun established Adich...show more
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The Oresteia
Aeschylus
If you seek between covers an education in the trials and tribulations, the hopes and fears, the terrors and triumphs of the human spirit, the majestic tragedies of the ancient Greeks are the place to begin, and perhaps the place to end as well. In their beautiful, haunting, unsparing plays, Aeschyl...show more
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Little Women
Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, the second of four daughters of a noted proponent of Transcendentalism, Bronson Alcott. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a friend of the family, as were Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Despite her transcendentalist pedigree, Louisa May Alcott ...show more
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The House of the Spirits
Isabel Allende
On January 8, 1981, journalist and former television host Isabel Allende, a Chilean political exile, sat down in Venezuela to write a letter to her nearly 100-year-old grandfather in an attempt to bridge the distance between her present and her family’s past. She began with an anecdote he had told h...show more
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Lucky Jim
Kingsley Amis
A riotous satire of English university life, the engaging and high-spirited Lucky Jim had a huge impact in its time, setting the style for postwar fiction and helping to define the generation of “Angry Young Men” in 1950s Britain. But this Angry Young Man is as funny as they come, and the novel’s se...show more
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Fairy Tales
Hans Christian Andersen
While the emotional sophistication of his stories can make them seem darker than their child-friendly frames at first suggest, there is no shortage of humor or high spirits in Andersen’s fanciful canon. Only a dozen or so of his more than 150 tales were drawn from existing folktales, in the manner o...show more
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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou
When you discover that a person has written six books of autobiography, you’re bound to wonder: Is she just a prolific narcissist, or has she really lived a six-volume life? If she’s Maya Angelou, there’s no doubt that the latter is the case: So compelling is her private story, so extravagant her pu...show more
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The Arabian Nights
Is there an entry in the annals of story more charming than the tale of the brave and brilliant Shahrazad, who, by dint of cunning and invention, puts off her death at the hands of King Shahryār for a thousand and one nights? Bewitching the king with a nightly dose of suspenseful storytelling, she s...show more
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The Clouds
Aristophanes
He wrote as many as fifty plays; nobody is sure exactly how many, and only eleven survive today. But Aristophanes established some principles of comedy (and even, if truth be told, some jokes) that have survived for more than two-and-a-half millennia. Though the distance of time and topic is of cour...show more
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Foundation: The Foundation Trilogy, Book 1
Isaac Asimov
As a writer, Isaac Asimov’s reputation rests solidly on his ambitious Foundation Trilogy, which was awarded a special Hugo Award in 1966 as best science fiction series of all time. And although he would bow to fan pressure and resume the franchise nearly thirty years after publishing its initial ins...show more
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Emma
Jane Austen
I remember loving Emma because she was so unlike other protagonists from what I'd read of this time period. Her flaws are loud and proud.
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Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen
The first written of Austen’s novels, Northanger Abbey was not published until after her death. It is a parody of Gothic fiction—a wildly popular genre in Austen’s day, and one with which Catherine Morland, the novel’s teenage protagonist, is unhealthily obsessed. She can hardly contain her exciteme...show more
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Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
The best introduction to Austen’s work is surely the second of the six novels she wrote before her death at only forty-one, Pride and Prejudice, in which she introduces us to Elizabeth Bennet, the wittiest and most vivacious of five sisters on the hunt—if their mother has her way, at least—for husba...show more
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Lost Illusions
Honoré de Balzac
Lost Illusions is a massive novel—more than six hundred pages. Written in three parts between 1837 and 1843, its several story lines conspire to display most of the author’s abiding concerns: the claustrophobic dullness of provincial society and the ruthless snobbery of its Parisian counterpart; the...show more
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Père Goriot
Honoré de Balzac
In simple outline, the book sounds like a poor man’s King Lear: A retired businessman is done in by the greed and callousness of his ungrateful daughters. What distinguishes this tale in the fullness of its telling, however, is the way in which Balzac uses Goriot’s sad circumstances to paint a dynam...show more
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The Adventures of Augie March
Saul Bellow
The title of Saul Bellow’s third novel evokes Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and the voice that tells it—like the one Mark Twain created for Huck—is alive with the rhythms and energies of speech. The book’s irrepressible hero grows up in a poor Jewish household during the Great Depression. He ventures ou...show more
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Madeline
Ludwig Bemelmans
In this first of seven Madeline tales written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans, our heroine, a French charmer whose special blend of moxie and mischief wins the hearts of all who meet her, proves her mettle. Madeline and her world— including Pepito (the boy next door), the dog Genevieve, Miss Cla...show more
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Ficciones
Jorge Luis Borges
Because Borges’s uncanny fables seldom resemble typical short stories, his works are frequently called “fictions”—which is precisely what Ficciones means. In addition to “Pierre Menard,” the volume includes sixteen pieces, including several masterpieces, such as “The Library of Babel,” “Tlön, Uqbar,...show more
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Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë
Destitute young woman leaves rotten boarding school for job as governess in sprawling mansion, falls in love with broodingly handsome employer with dark secret. In the twenty-first century, the plot of Jane Eyre might sound clichéd, yet Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel, about a plain orphan girl exceed...show more
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