- The Book of Illusions. Paul Auster
Vermont professor David Zimmer is a broken man. He hits a period in which life seemed to be working aggressively against him. After his wife and sons are killed in an airplane crash, Zimmer becomes an alcoholic recluse, fond of emptying his bottle of sleeping pills into his palm, contemplating his next move. But one night, while watching a television documentary, Zimmer's attention is caught by the silent-film comedian Hector Mann, who had disappeared without a trace in 1929 and who was considered long-dead. Soon, Zimmer begins work on a book about Mann's newly discovered films (copies of which had been sent, anonymously, to film archives around the world). The spirit of Hector Mann keeps David Zimmer alive for a year. When a letter arrives from someone claiming to be Hector Mann's wife, announcing that Mann had read Zimmer's book and would like to meet him, it is as if fate has tossed Zimmer from one hand to the other: from grief and loss to desire and confusion.
- To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee
Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.
- Sorry. Gail Jones
In the remote outback of Western Australia, English anthropologist Nicholas Keene and his wife Stella raise a curious child, Perdita. Her childhood is far from ordinary; a shack in the wilderness, a distant father buying himself in books and an unstable mother whose knowledge of Shakespeare forms the backbone of the girl’s limited education. Emotionally adrift, Perdita develops a friendship with an Aboriginal girl, Mary, with whom she will share a very special bond. She appears content with her unusual family life in this remote corner of the globe, until the day Nicholas Keene is discovered murdered…
- Angela’s Ashes. Frank McCourt
In the extraordinary memoir that has won the praise of critics and the hearts of readers, Frank McCourt recounts the heartbreak and humour of his astonishing poor childhood. Gorgeously written from the innocent perspective of young Frank, this is a memoir more dramatic, suspenseful and mesmerizing than most novels.
- Changing Places. David Lodge
Anyone intrigued by differences between American and British academic institutions will find this an amusing and accurate send-up. David Lodge, portraying two American and British professors who replace one another at their respective institutions, gives greed, pettiness, and pretense full rein.
- The Catcher in the Rye. J. D. Salinger
Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them." His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.
- The Sunday Philosophy Club. Alexander McCall Smith
Introducing Isabel Dalhousie the heroine of the latest bestselling series from the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Isabel, the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics and an occasional detective, has been accused of getting involved in problems that are, quite frankly, none of her business. In this first installment, Isabel is attending a concert in the Usher Hall when she witnesses a man fall from the upper balcony. Isabel can't help wondering whether it was the result of mischance or mischief. Against the best advice of her no-nonsense housekeeper Grace, her bassoon playing friend Jamie, and even her romantically challenged niece Cat, she is morally bound to solve this case. Complete with wonderful Edinburgh atmosphere and characters straight out of a Robert Burns poem, The Sunday Philosophy Club is a delightful treat from one of our most beloved authors.
- The Kite Runner. Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule
- Winter in Madrid. C. J. Sansom
In September 1940, the Spanish civil war is over and Madrid lies in ruins. Into this uncertain world comes Harry Brett, a reluctant spy for the British Secret Service who was traumatized by his recent experience at Dunkirk. Sento to Spain to gain the confidence of Sandy Forsyth, an old school friend turned shady Madrid businessman, Brett finds himself involved in a dangerous game and surrounded by memories. Meanwhile, Sandy’s girlfriend, ex-Red Cross nurse Barbara Clare, is engaged in a secret mission of her own _ to find her former lover who has vanished on the bloody battlefields of the Jarama.
- Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen
There are five daughters in the Bennet family and marriage is the only career open to them. There is naturally much excitement when two young men of good fortune move into the district. But before there can be a happy ending, the hero must conquer his overwhelming pride and Elizabeth, the spirited heroine, her prejudices against him. Only by taking the route to self-knowledge can they reach a mature understanding of each other and find lasting contentment.
- My Family and Other Animals. Gerard Durrell
When the unconventional Durrell family can no longer endure the damp, gray English climate, they do what any sensible family would do: sell their house and relocate to the sunny Greek isle of Corfu. My Family and Other Animals was intended to embrace the natural history of the island but ended up as a delightful account of Durrell’s family’s experiences, from the many eccentric hangers-on to the ceaseless procession of puppies, toads, scorpions, geckoes, ladybugs, glowworms, octopuses, bats, and butterflies into their home. Hilarious!
- Life of Pi. Yann Martel
A fantasy adventure telling the story of a 16-year-old boy stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean for 227 days. It explores issues of practicality and spirituality. Author Yann Martel revealed his inspiration and motives for his novel. He said, "I was sort of looking for a story, not only with a small ‘s’ but sort of with a capital ‘S’ – something that would direct my life." He spoke of being lonely and needing direction in his life. This novel became that direction and purpose for his life.
- White Teeth. Zadie Smith
- Zadie Smith's White Teeth is a delightfully cacophonous tale that spans 25 years of two families' assimilation in North London. The Joneses and the Iqbals are an unlikely a pairing of families, but their intertwined destinies distill the British Empire's history and hopes into a dazzling multiethnic melange that is a pure joy to read. Smith proves herself to be a master at drawing fully-realized, vibrant characters, and she demonstrates an extraordinary ear for dialogue. It is a novel full of humor and empathy that is as inspiring as it is enjoyable
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is a book of short stories by Alice Munro, published by McClelland and Stewartin 2001.
Two mischievous girls in smalltown Ontario decide to play a trick on a housekeeper. They write fake love letters from Sabitha’s father with little thought of consequences. They don’t expect the housekeeper to take leave of her position, move in with the father, get married and have a baby. The girls are never found out, but even after Sabitha has grown out of playing dirty tricks, she feels her own trick backfired somewhat. She never meant a bit of fun to result in the existence of a half-brother
In 2006, the story "The Bear Came over the Mountain" was adapted into a film, Away from Her, directed by Sarah Polley and produced by Atom Egoyan.
JANE EYRE (1847)
Since its publication in 1847, Jane Eyre has never ceased to be one of the most widely read of English novels.
Transmuted by the rare Brontë imagination, the romance of Jane and Rochester takes on a strange and unforgettable atmosphere that lifts it above the level of mere melodrama. But Charlotte Brontë intended more. She portrayed the refusal of a spirited and intelligent woman to accept her appointed place in society with unusual frankness and with a passionate sense of the dignity and needs of her sex.
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1891)
This sophisticated but crude novel is the story of man's eternal desire for perennial youth, of our vanity and frivolity, of the dangers of messing with the laws of life. Just like "Faust" and "The immortal" by Borges. Dorian Gray is beautiful and irresistible. He is a socialité with a high ego and superficial thinking. When his friend Basil Hallward paints his portrait, Gray expresses his wish that he could stay forever as young and charming as the portrait. The wish comes true...
The characters and the scenes are perfect. Wilde's wit and sarcasm come in full splendor to tell us that the world is dangerous for the soul, when its rules are not followed. But, and it's a big but, it is not a moralizing story. Wilde was not the man to do that. It is a fierce and unrepressed exposition of all the ugly side of us humans, when unchecked by nature.
THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS (1915)
In this gripping tale of the hunt for a wanted man –the innocent Richard Hannay- John Buchan created one of the most famous and admired thrillers of all time.
With the creation of Richard Hannay, a South African mining engineer and war hero, John Buchan established him-
self as one of Britain’s finest writers of suspense stories. The five novels in which Hannay features have been imitated but never surpassed. They are all published by Penguin.
ANIMAL FARM (1945)
Animal Farm (1945) - satirical allegory of the Russian Revolution, particularly directed against Stalin's Russia. Led by the pigs, the Animals on Mr Jones's farm revolt against their human masters. After their victory they decide to run the farm themselves on egalitarian principles. Inspired by the example of Boxer, the hard-working horse, the cooperation prosper. The pigs become corrupted by power and a new tyranny is established under Napoleon (Stalin). 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.' The book was originally rejected for publication by T.S. Eliot in 1944, but has gained since its appearance in
1945 a status of a classic.
“George Orwell's animal Farm is a genuine masterpiece that quickly hooks the reader from the very beginning. It's an extremely easy read as well as an enjoyable one -not enjoyable in the sense that this is a "happy tale," but enjoyable in the sense that you really feel like you're reading something great. If you haven't had the chance to check it out, make sure you add this to your reading list. It is something that should be read by everyone at least once in their life, even if they don't end up enjoying it as much as others. I loved every single word that was written in the extremely creative read. This is an important classic in literature that shouldn't be missed for any reason”. -Michael Crane
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian novel by George Orwell published in 1949. The Oceanian province of Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain) is a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as thoughtcrimes.] Their tyranny is headed by Big Brother, the quasi-divine Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. Big Brother and the Party justify their rule in the name of a supposed greater good. The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party who works for the Ministry of Truth(Minitrue), which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. His job is to re-write past newspaper articles so that the historical record always supports the current party line.] Smith is a diligent and skillful worker, but he secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother.
Authors (different nationalities)
Martin Amis: Money, The Rachel Papers
Philip Roth: The Human Stain, American Pastoral
John Updike: any one of the Rabbit novels.
Tony Morrison: Beloved.
Kazuo Ishiguro: The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go
Cormac McCarthy: The Road, No Country for Old Men
Haruki Murakami: A Wild Sheep Chase, Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore.
Bill Bryson: Notes from a Small Island; Notes from a Big Country; Icons of England; Down Under, etc.
Alexander McCall Smith: 44 Scotland St. series or Isabel Dalhousie series.
1968 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (aka Blade Runner)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. First published in 1968, the book served as the primary basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic near future, where Earth and its populations have been damaged greatly by nuclear war during World War Terminus. Most types of animals are endangered or extinct due to extreme radiation poisoning from the war. To own an animal is a sign of status, but what is emphasized more is the empathic emotions humans experience towards an animal.
The main plot follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who is faced with "retiring" six escaped Nexus-6 brain model androids, the latest and most advanced model, while a secondary plot follows John Isidore, a man of sub-normal intelligence who aids the fugitive androids. In connection with Deckard's mission, the novel explores the issue of what it is to be human.
Minority Report and other Stories
"The Minority Report" is a 1956 science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick, first published in Fantastic Universe. The story is about a future society where murders are prevented through the efforts of three mutants who can see the future. Paradoxes and alternate realities are created by the precognition of crimes when the chief of police intercepts a precognition that he is about to murder a man he has never met. The story also touches upon the dangers of a powerful post-war military during peacetime. Like many stories dealing with knowledge of future events, "The Minority Report" questions the existence of free will.
In 2002, the story was adapted into a film directed by Steven Spielberg.
Ray Bradbury (1953)
It is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. It is regarded as one of his best works. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and "firemen" burn any that are found.] The title refers to the temperature that Bradbury understood to be the autoignition point of paper. There is a 1966 film adapation directed by François Truffaut and starring Oskar Werner, Julie Christie, and Cyril Cusack.