A list by roppenhe
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My Dog Tulip
J. R. Ackerley
I don't really consider myself a "dog book" person, but this is a dog book unlike any other. I also highly recommend Ackerley's "My Father and Myself" and "We Think the World of You" (which is another rather perverse man-and-his-dog story). Haven't read his "Hindoo Holiday" yet, but expect to enjo...show more
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The Education of Henry Adams
Henry Adams
A wondrously immersive, idiosyncratic look at a fascinating period, through the eyes of a fascinating man. Plus it's immensely quotable!
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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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Voices from Chernobyl
Svetlana Alexievich
This book is an oral history of the nuclear reactor accident at Chernobyl in 1986, and of the suffering, death, and contamination—biological, environmental, psychological, existential—left in its wake. It is constructed from the testimony of dozens of people whose lives were transformed by the disas...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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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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Study is Hard Work
William H. Armstrong
Any student picking up this book is lucky to have Armstrong as a teacher and a guide. His advice and clear-eyed wisdom are timeless.
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Aubrey's Brief Lives
John Aubrey, edited by Oliver Lawson Dick
A perfect bedside book. Makes me envious of Aubrey, living amongst, or in recent memory of, such people.
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Tuck Everlasting
Natalie Babbitt
Age has its despairs, yet without its dimension, our lives lose their shape: A timeless life, without growth or change, would be drearier than the day is long. That’s the profound truth that illuminates this extraordinary fable, in which a young girl named Winnie finds herself catapulted into great ...show more
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Lost Illusions
Honoré de Balzac
Captivating, bitter and brilliant. The life of a writer was just as hard in bygone days as it is now . . .
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The Sweet Hereafter
Russell Banks
Limpid and heartbreaking.
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Flaubert's Parrot
Julian Barnes
Sophisticated literary inventions are seldom as charming as this one, an intricately composed but inviting exploration of the nature of desire. The intricacy of the composition comes from Julian Barnes’s playful orchestration of a variety of styles, combining fiction with literary criticism, biograp...show more
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Peter Pan and Wendy
J. M. Barrie
Despite your familiarity with the outline of the tale, a reading of the novel Peter Pan and Wendy is likely to astonish you with its sophistication, allusiveness, and compelling, yet paradoxically reflective, storytelling. For all its fantasy and adventure, the book is very much written from an adul...show more
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The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Matsuo Bashō
Written late in the seventeenth century, the travel writings of Matsuo Bashō, the most revered of haiku masters, are the culmination of an eight-century Japanese literary tradition. Just as Bashō elevated the customarily lighthearted haiku into a supple and profound poetic form despite the strictnes...show more
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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum
There’s no greater tribute to the pleasures of L. Frank Baum’s book than to say that the story is so good that it isn’t overwhelmed by the images from the wonderful Judy Garland movie. The story unfolds with a declarative matter-of-factness that puts no barrier between the real and the imagined; bec...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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Songs of Innocence and of Experience
William Blake
The remarkable thing about William Blake is that he was a visionary genius twice over—he is one of Britain’s greatest visual artists and one of the greatest poets in the English language. Blake's twofold artistry and unyielding individuality are seen to best effect in his illuminated books, the firs...show more
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The Decameron
Giovanni Boccaccio
The storytelling of Boccaccio’s Decameron takes place under a fierce deadline, as in another fabled compendium of tales, The Arabian Nights. Fleeing their native city to escape the ravages of the Black Death (the bubonic plague that claimed the lives of more than half of Florence’s denizens in the m...show more
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The Life of Samuel Johnson
James Boswell
A massive investment of time, but how well-spent that time will be, and in what good company!
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