A list by Peter Wilson
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Peter Wilson
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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 Second Sex
Simone de Beauvoir
An eye opener to a budding sexist
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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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The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
Dystopia with a feminist perspective
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Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little Bighorn
Evan S. Connell
A study of a sociopath who exploited the system of the day
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The Road from Coorain
Jill Ker Conway
So true to Australian geography and rural life
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Memories of the Great & the Good
Alistair Cooke
There’s so much “personality” journalism around these days that it’s easy to forget just how absorbing and memorable profiles can be when they’re as well crafted and thoughtful as those found here. In these twenty-three shrewd and insightful exercises in “appreciative criticism” (“Most of these piec...show more
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The Andromeda Strain
Michael Crichton
Although physician Michael Crichton previously published several pseudonymous novels, The Andromeda Strain was his first bestseller, and the storytelling élan it displayed would inform nearly four decades of inventive, often medically or scientifically minded thrillers. The combination of cutting-ed...show more
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Edward Albee
At the outset of his long, ever-evolving career as a dramatist, Edward Albee was an American heir to the intellectual energies of the European Theater of the Absurd. In Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, first staged in 1962, Albee moved his ferocity out of the absurd into a more realistic setting, a ...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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Purgatorio: The Divine Comedy, Book 2
Dante Alighieri
Although the stories in hell are better than those in purgatory, sin being a sexier subject than penance, Dante’s poetry never palls. Throughout, he infuses his narrative with a current of feeling that humanizes the austere theological arc of his pilgrim’s progress.
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Inferno: The Divine Comedy, Book 1
Dante Alighieri
From the dark wood of its beginning, down through the nine circles of hell, across the seven terraces of purgatory, and into the ten heavens of paradise, Dante’s medieval tour de force gives us, in T. S. Eliot’s estimation, the greatest altitude and the greatest depth of human passion any writer has...show more
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Paradiso: The Divine Comedy, Book 3
Dante Alighieri
As the Comedy ascends to a heaven of light, Dante completes the grand imaginative arc he began in the dark wood, having composed out of eschatological speculations an epic as thrilling as those of Homer, as filled with human sensibility as Virgil’s—one in which all the deadly sins, and all the longe...show more
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Their Finest Hour
Winston Churchill
The 6 volumes are a slog, but well written at a noble level
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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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A Walk in the Woods
Bill Bryson
All of Bryson is worth the read
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Lewis Carroll
The original YA fantasy - wonderfully written
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All the President's Men
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
All the President’s Men follows Woodward and Bernstein's investigation of the Watergate scandal from start to finish, taking readers behind the scenes, describing in detail their dogged efforts to uncover sources, pursue leads, and—as their most famous informant, “Deep Throat,” had counseled them—fo...show more
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Childhood's End
Arthur C. Clarke
The decade of Childhood’s End’s publication was rife with tales of alien invasions and “first contact,” especially in lowbrow cinema, as films like The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Invaders from Mars (1953), and This Island Earth (1955) attest. Clarke’s novel fits neatly into that subgenre, but...show more
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Emma
Jane Austen
At twenty, Emma Woodhouse—“handsome, clever, and rich”—knows that she’s the most fantastic woman in Highbury, and nothing amuses her more than meddling in other people’s affairs. But although she has good intentions, her matchmaking goes seriously awry, wrecking a perfectly good engagement for her f...show more
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