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As I Lay Dying
William Faulkner
Addie Bundren’s health is deteriorating rapidly, and her eldest son, Cash, is hewing the most beautiful coffin he can manage right outside her bedroom window. Wretchedly poor, the Bundrens watch Addie die, then make their way with her corpse, its coffin in a mule-drawn wagon, across the fictional Yo...show more
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Absalom, Absalom!
William Faulkner
Faulkner's novel forms, disperses, then coalesces again and again around the story of Thomas Sutpen, who arrives in Yoknapatawpha County in 1833 with slaves, a French architect, and a “design”: to work his will on a large parcel of land, planting cotton and erecting an extravagant estate house, to e...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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Offshore
Penelope Fitzgerald
This beguiling novel—for which Penelope Fitzgerald won the Booker Prize—concerns a colorful bunch of misfits living on houseboats and barges along the Battersea reach of the Thames River in London. With a comic choreography worthy of Jane Austen, and an affectionate perspicacity regarding human natu...show more
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The Art of Eating
M. F. K. Fisher
The Art of Eating is an omnibus that collects M. F. K. Fisher’s first five gastronomical books, written between 1937 and 1949. The singularity of Fisher’s early work is evidenced by the fact that the New York Times called her debut—a book about food with no pretense of being a cookbook—“unique,” “di...show more
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Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl is the story of a marriage’s unraveling and the suspicion that falls on the husband in the wake of his wife’s disappearance. But it is author Gillian Flynn’s knowing exploitation of the intimate pact between writer and reader, her head-turning violation of it, that tightens the story's gri...show more
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The Good Soldier
Ford Maddox Ford
Ford’s tale, which he described as his attempt to incorporate into a novel “all that I knew about writing,” principally charts the tangled relationships between two “leisured” couples: the American John Dowell and his wife, Florence, and the philandering Edward Ashburnham (English gentleman and the ...show more
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A Dictionary of Modern English Usage
H. W. Fowler
A lexicographer, per Samuel Johnson, the granddaddy of the breed, is a “harmless drudge,” but Henry Watson Fowler may be the exception that proves the rule. It is one of the pleasures of his peerless Dictionary of Modern English Usage that, as astonishing as it may seem, its entries—an A-to-Z of que...show more
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The Feminine Mystique
Betty Friedan
When asked, in 1957, to conduct a survey of her Smith College classmates on the fifteenth anniversary of their graduation, Betty Friedan noted in their responses the recurrent dissatisfaction with where they found themselves. Why were so many American women of her time and class unhappy? In The Femi...show more
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Edward Albee
Devastating
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Little Women
Louisa May Alcott
Innocence
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The Power and the Glory
Graham Greene
Set in Mexico in the 1930s, when the Catholic Church has been outlawed by the revolutionary government, The Power and the Glory portrays a corrupted and courageous cleric’s devotion to his calling, despite his alcoholism (Greene gives him no name other than “the whisky priest”), his licentiousness (...show more
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Grimms' Tales for Young and Old
Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm
Stories are humanity’s greatest tools; with them, men and women manipulate those essential elements of experience—fears and hopes, faiths and terrors, worry, grace, wonderment—that otherwise are so intangible. Generations of storytellers have used these implements to widely differing purpose and eff...show more
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Matilda
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl’s roster of youth-delighting tales is as rich as that of any twentieth-century children’s author. From The Gremlins (1943) to The Minpins (1991), Dahl created marvelous confections for young readers for nearly five decades. Standing out among his storytelling treats is Matilda, whose supe...show more
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The Manticore: The Deptford Trilogy, Book 2
Robertson Davies
Davies’s flamboyant naturalism continues in the second book in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore, in which the journey of discovery belongs to David Staunton, Boy’s son and Dunstan’s student. The three novels—each of which, remarkably, stands on its own and can be read independently of the others—...show more
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World of Wonders: The Deptford Trilogy, Book 3
Robertson Davies
The final installment of the Deptford Trilogy, World of Wonders, is the province of Mary Dempster’s prematurely born child, Paul, who has been transformed by his life as circus performer, actor, and illusionist into the larger-than-life magician Magnus Eisengrim. Davies’s three novels—each of which,...show more
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Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe
Inspired by the real-life experience of Alexander Selkirk (1676–1721), a Scottish sailor who was marooned for more than four years on a South Pacific island, Robinson Crusoe gave enduring form to fundamental themes of the Western imagination. With his parrot and parasol, the castaway Crusoe is an e...show more
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Great Books
David Denby
Denby, an acclaimed film critic, initially encountered Homer three decades earlier, as a freshman at Columbia University. Now he was rereading the Iliad as part of a midlife adventure: going back to college with the specific purpose of reading his way through his alma mater’s two core-curriculum (i....show more
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Jude the Obscure
Thomas Hardy
Jude the Obscure is the story of an orphaned, intellectually ambitious young man who works as a stonemason at Christminster (a Wessex version of Oxford) rather than attending its classes, as he yearns to do. He is tricked into marrying a girl who claims to be carrying his child and who then deserts ...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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