A list by Windy Cutler
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Windy Cutler
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Desert Solitaire
Edward Abbey
Written in the middle of the 1960s, yet composed largely from journals kept a decade earlier during the author’s summers as a backcountry ranger at the Arches National Monument (“among,” as he puts it, “the hoodoo rocks and voodoo silence of the Utah wilderness”), Desert Solitaire evokes the paradox...show more
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Flatland
Edwin A. Abbott
A novel of mathematical whimsy, Flatland is set in the peculiar world that provides the book’s name and is home to its putative author, A. Square, a two-dimensional being in a world inhabited by lines, triangles, circles, and polygons. Ingeniously composed as a kind of dystopian memoir, Flatland is ...show more
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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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Watership Down
Richard Adams
One of the most phenomenal international bestsellers of the 1970s, Watership Down is an immersive saga that traverses great themes and feelings—courage, frailty, community, ecology, responsibility, friendship, love—while holding readers on the edge of their metaphorical seats. And oh, yes—it’s a 500...show more
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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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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
Every young girl should read this book, with its depiction of four girls with very different personalities; I have made sure my seven, now grown, daughters, and their daughters had a chance to read it.
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The Book of Three
Lloyd Alexander
I discovered this book, or the series, in about 1970, and recommended that our local library carry it, so that my children could read it. And myself, of course. And they did.
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie
Drawing on Sherman Alexie’s personal experience growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a young adult novel that has more to say about big virtues like tolerance than a whole shelf of earnest adult tomes could ever manage. The book’s unflinchi...show more
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Fairy Tales
Hans Christian Andersen
No one should miss these.
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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou
When you discover that a person has written six books of autobiography, you’re bound to wonder: Is she just a prolific narcissist, or has she really lived a six-volume life? If she’s Maya Angelou, there’s no doubt that the latter is the case: So compelling is her private story, so extravagant her pu...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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Nicomachean Ethics
Aristotle
Just re-read these, but i like his Politics better.
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Old Herbaceous
Reginald Arkell
A favorite book on the shelf among my garden books.
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Confessions
Saint Augustine
Of all the saints of the early Christian church, Saint Augustine of Hippo possesses, for the modern reader at least, the most interesting mind. His ideas on language, time, and the mysteries of personality, humanity, and divinity are still provocative—after sixteen centuries!—and his genius for expr...show more
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Meditations
Marcus Aurelius
At your recommendation I am rereading these meditations from an old Black classic, much marked up, should be on everyone's bedside table. I can see that i have been much influenced by his meditations, even when i might not always remember them.
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Emma
Jane Austen
Sometimes you want to shake Emma, but ultimately, she is not impervious to correction and recognition of her faults; Jane Austen has a way of making you identify with her characters, as, for instance, Miss Bates, who talks too much and knows she talks too much, and Emma, who thoughtlessly teases Mis...show more
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Mansfield Park
Jane Austen
Sometimes Fanny is just a little too goody, goody, but Austen, as usual, can treat with compassion as well as caustic wit protagonists of varying character.
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Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen
Jane Austen has clearly read all of the Gothic fiction for which she appears to be chastising her young heroine, so you know there is something of herself in Catherine.
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Persuasion
Jane Austen
Though its plot may be less intricate than those of Austen’s earlier works, Persuasion is a captivating tale, and Anne Elliott is one of her most enduring creations. The last novel Austen wrote in her short life, it points toward an expansion of her extraordinary talents; in the pages of Persuasion,...show more
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