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Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Composed in English and published in 1958, two years before Nigeria declared independence, Things Fall Apart was the first African novel to attain a wide international readership. It is a short, sparely told tale that nevertheless embraces themes of enormous import: fate and will, the determining i...show more
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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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Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
James Agee and Walker Evans
In the summer of 1936, Fortune magazine commissioned James Agee and Walker Evans to report on the lives of sharecroppers in the Deep South. Agee was a twenty-six-year-old journalist who’d published a volume of poems two years earlier; Evans was a thirty-two-year-old photographer. The assignment took...show more
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The Book of Three
Lloyd Alexander
I loved this series as a kid--Alexander was one of my favorite authors for years.
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Voices from Chernobyl
Svetlana Alexievich
Captures a place and time that will hopefully will stay unique.
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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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Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
Judy Blume
Narrated by Margaret Simon, an almost twelve-year-old who moves from New York City to the Jersey suburbs, Blume’s novel for young readers engages, with directness and a strong dose of appropriate preteen bewilderment, themes seldom treated so familiarly at the time. Top of the list is the perplexity...show more
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Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag is a fireman. But, in the dystopian future of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 classic, a fireman’s duty is not to put out fires, but to start them. His job, in fact, is to burn books, a task that requires the temperature of 451° Fahrenheit. It’s natural to see Fahrenheit 451 as an allegory about cens...show more
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The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown
The popularity of this was astounding--this book created readers of people who never read or never finished a book, especially among men. And it is a fast-paced and fun read.
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A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess
the language in this is incredible--the reader quickly adapts to it, which I found fascinating in itself.
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Invisible Cities
Italo Calvino
As light as a cloud and just as beautiful, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities floats across the mind’s sky and seduces our vision. Purporting to be a record of conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, in which the inveterate traveler describes the many extraordinary cities he has encountered ...show more
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Lewis Carroll
More than the sum of its parts, Lewis Carroll’s Alice oeuvre has taken root in our collective imagination like few other literary creations. Despite—or perhaps because of—its nonsensical pedigree, it has proved to be an addictive pleasure for analysts seduced by its dense mix of childish frivolities...show more
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O Pioneers!
Willa Cather
In Hanover, Nebraska, a Swedish immigrant dies and leaves his farm not to his sons, but to his daughter. Despite drought, economic depression, and the demands of the land the family inhabits, Alexandra Bergson, one of American literature’s most vivid heroines, is determined to make a success of the ...show more
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Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes
In the story of Don Quixote, a misguided hero besotted by popular romances of chivalry and steadied only by the hands of a capable and long-suffering companion, Sancho Panza, Cervantes managed to depict—in comedy high and low and in episodes alternately satiric, hilarious, and moving—the battle betw...show more
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The Cherry Orchard
Anton Chekhov
Chekhov wrote more than a dozen plays, but the last four are his most accomplished and most performed, and the quartet—because of their original realization by Konstantin Stanislavski under the auspices of the Moscow Art Theater—are seminal works in theatrical history. Deeply humanistic, Chekhov’s f...show more
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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Agatha Christie
Like many of Agatha Christie’s best puzzles, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd takes us to an English village whose cozy society has been disrupted by death. In King’s Abbot, where Hercule Poirot has retired to garden, the suicide of the widowed Mrs. Ferrars is surrounded by rumors that she had killed her...show more
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The Moonstone
Wilkie Collins
While the plot of The Moonstone is compelling, it is the play of its distinctive voices upon our understanding of events that makes the book truly absorbing. Clues are laid out carefully and, in retrospect at least, quite tellingly, but their meaning is obscured as we read by the shifting perspectiv...show more
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The Last of the Mohicans
James Fenimore Cooper
In the pages of this classic adventure tale you’ll meet one of the greatest heroes in American literature, Nathaniel Bumppo, a rugged scout and woodsman who goes by any number of nicknames, among them Natty, Leatherstocking, Pathfinder, Deerslayer, and Hawkeye. The Last of the Mohicans is the second...show more
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A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities may have the most famous opening of any novel ever written, the frequent application of its words outside the novel’s specific context giving it an edge over the nearest competition, Anna Karenina and Pride and Prejudice. Echoing the dichotomies invoked in its opening sentences,...show more
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Oliver Twist
Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist was its author’s second novel, telling a continuous story in a way his first did not. What’s innovative in the book is not its shape, however, but its focus: Never before had a child been put so center stage in a novel; more importantly, while Wordsworth had evoked it in verse, never be...show more
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