A list by Lee Trull
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Lee Trull
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Waiting for Godot
Samuel Beckett
Waiting for Godot was Samuel Beckett’s first performed play, written in French and then translated by the author into English. It is one of the signal accomplishments in twentieth-century theater and one of the touchstones of modern literature. It is also, as one contemporary critic said of its two ...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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The Bible
In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis—in just thirty-one short verses—the world is given form, light is summoned into being, Day and Night are named, Heaven hatched, the stars invoked, and Earth fashioned into land and sea, seeded with plants and populated with creatures. All in less than eigh...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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In Cold Blood
Truman Capote
When Herbert William Clutter and his family were bound, gagged, and murdered on the night of November 15, 1959, there was little evidence of who’d done it, or why. The story of their gruesome end made the New York Times, where it was read by literary light Truman Capote, who determined almost immedi...show more
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Ender's Game
Orson Scott Card
The Wiggin children are unusual, even for the unusual world in which Ender’s Game unfolds. There’s the oldest, Peter, a power-mad sociopath; Valentine, the sister who turns her eloquence to Peter’s service; and then there’s Ender, their little brother, who is singled out by the authorities as the mi...show more
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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Michael Chabon
With The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Chabon knocked one out of the park, and won a Pulitzer Prize to boot. The titular heroes are Joe Kavalier and Sammy Klayman (who changes his name to Clay), teenage Jewish cousins who share a love of drawing and a fascination with Harry Houdini. As he n...show more
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The Big Sleep
Raymond Chandler
Dashiell Hammett may have invented the hardboiled detective story, but nobody wrote it better than Raymond Chandler. With his stylized prose and flair for similes, he gave his detective Philip Marlowe a voice that would become the hallmark of the genre. Marlowe is the protagonist in all of Chandler’...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 Seagull
Anton Chekhov
“Why do you always wear black?” a schoolteacher asks a young woman at the start of The Seagull. “I’m in mourning for my life,” she replies. It’s true that Chekhov’s plays are filled with unhappy people, and if you suffer through a bad production, you might think there is not much more to them than m...show more
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Uncle Vanya
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. In each of these works, subtex...show more
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Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book is prompted in part by his inability to offer any comfort to his son after the latter’s disillusionment in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the exoneration of the police officers at whose hands he died: “I did not tell you that it would...show more
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The Complete Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
While the success of the Sherlock Holmes tales can properly be seen as a catalyst for the boom in crime and detective literature that began in the early twentieth century and seems to grow larger every year, the pleasure of Arthur Conan Doyle’s narratives rests only in part on the cleverly contrived...show more
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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Díaz
The first thing that strikes you is the prose: It’s fast and agile, unafraid to mix ingredients. English and Spanish and Spanglish combine to energize the sentences, which move easily between different modes of discourse—expository, conversational, professorial, confidential, ribald, tender, rambunc...show more
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A Visit from the Goon Squad
Jennifer Egan
What kind of novel would Marcel Proust have written if he’d listened to the Rolling Stones instead of Beethoven’s late quartets? The answer might well be something very much like A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan’s virtuosic and open-hearted tale of music and mortality. Like the music it ev...show more
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The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
A book of shimmering social surfaces and hauntingly evanescent private depths, The Great Gatsby imbues its fleet narrative with a formal elegance that has been readily apparent even to the generations of high school students to whom it has been assigned—generally long before they might understand th...show more
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The Maltese Falcon
Dashiell Hammett
Dashiell Hammett is largely credited with the invention of the modern hard-boiled detective novel, wherein a crime is a crime, rather than a peripheral plot device, and a private detective is a tough-talking guy who solves it for cash. The Maltese Falcon is Hammett’s best work, not least because its...show more
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
funny. wild. stupid. terrific book.
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The Stories of John Cheever
John Cheever
The sixty-one stories gathered here were written in the three decades after the end of World War II; most were originally published in The New Yorker, then collected in slim volumes that had been largely forgotten by the time this fat, retrospective tome was issued to popular success and critical ac...show more
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A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
You know the story of this quintessential holiday tale, but have you ever read it? So many times has the tale been told—in numerous stage and screen adaptations—that we are apt to take the power of its invention for granted. Yet no retelling comes close to capturing the humor and human sympathy, the...show more
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