On being asked what condition of man he considered
the most pitiable, Benjamin Franklin said
"A lonesome man on a rainy day
who does not know how to read."
Updated by Greg Moore
Library Science, 2009
THE FOLLOWING RECOMMENDED READING LIST FOR
COLLEGE PREP STUDENTS IN ENGLISH TWO
WAS COMPILED FROM THESE SOURCES:
Choose a book that is right for you! Call numbers are provided to make it easier to locate these books in the OHS Library:
Agee, Death in the Family, FIC AGE
As told through the eyes of six-year-old Rufus Follet, this is the story of a loving closely-knit family and of their great courage when tragedy changes their lives. The differences between black and white, rich and poor, country life and city life, and ultimately, life and death are richly depicted. The author links the family's past and present, describing the family's life before the father's fatal automobile accident and its immediate affects.
Arnow, The Dollmaker, FIC ARN
From the hills of Kentucky to the chilling indifference of wartime Detroit, Gertie Nevels fought to keep her dignity. In a pitiless world of unendurable poverty, Gertie would fiercely battle to protect those things she found precious -- her children, her heritage, and her talent to create beauty in the suffocating shadow of ugliness and despair.
Bosse, Malcolm, The Examination, FIC BOS
Fifteen-year-old Hong and his older brother Chen face famine, flood, pirates, and jealous rivals on their journey through fifteenth century China as Chen pursues his calling as a scholar and Hong becomes involved with a secret society known as the White Lotus.
Boyd, William, Any Human
Heart, FIC BOY
Told entirely in the form of diary entries, this lavishly imagined novel seeks to explore the complexity of an individual human life responding to history and change. The journal's author is a cultured, intelligent man named Logan Mountstuart. Beginning in 1923 with his schoolboy days in England, Mountstuart takes us through college, experiences in 1930s Paris, adventures as a spy for England during World War II, and, finally, his golden years and eventual death. This is a masterfully drawn historical novel, utterly convincing in its depiction of events, but Boyd (Armadillo) also explores the nuances of Mountstuart's complex interior life: his youthful ambitions, his yearning for love, and the challenges posed by loss and disappointment.
Buck, The Good Earth, FIC BUC
The novel, about peasant life in China in the 1920s, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1932. The Good Earth follows the life of Wang Lung, from his beginnings as an impoverished peasant to his eventual position as a prosperous landowner. He is aided immeasurably by his equally humble wife, O-Lan, with whom he shares a devotion to the land, to duty, and to survival. Buck combines descriptions of marriage, parenthood, and complex human emotions with depictions of Chinese reverence for the land and for a specific way of life.
Cervantes, Don Quixote de la Mancha, 863.3 CER
This comic satire against chivalric romances describes an elderly knight who, his head bemused by reading romances, sets out on his old horse Rosinante, with his practical squire Sancho Panza, to seek adventure. In the process, he also finds love in the person of the peasant Dulcinea.
Chekhov, Cherry Orchard, 891.72 CHE
Ranevskaya, who has returned to her beloved estate several years after her young son drowned there, only to watch it slip from the family's hands. An unique adaptation of one of the great masterpieces of the theater.
Coetzee, Life & Times of Michael K, FIC COE
In a South Africa torn by civil war, Michael K sets out to take his ailing mother back to her rural home. On the way there she dies, leaving him alone in an anarchic world of brutal roving armies. Imprisoned, Michael is unable to bear confinement and escapes, determined to live with dignity. This life-affirming novel goes to the center of human experience—the need for an interior, spiritual life; for some connections to the world in which we live; and for purity of vision.
Dickens, Oliver Twist, FIC DIC
In 19th century England, a young orphan runs away from a workhouse, is captured by a gang of thieves, and finally escapes. Dickens used the tale of a friendless child as a vehicle for social criticism. It is unsentimental in its depiction of poverty and the criminal underworld, especially in its portrayal of cruel Bill Sikes, who kills his kindly girlfriend Nancy for helping Oliver and who is himself accidentally hung by his own rope.
Dai Sijie, Balzac and the
Little Chinese Seamstress, 843.92 DAI
This beautifully presented novella tracks the lives of two teens, childhood friends who have been sent to a small Chinese village for "re-education" during Mao's Cultural Revolution. Sons of doctors and dentists, their days are now spent muscling buckets of excrement up the mountainside and mining coal. But the boys-Luo and the unnamed narrator-receive a bit of a reprieve when the villagers discover their talents as storytellers; they are sent on monthly treks to town, tasked with watching a movie and relating it in detail on their return. It is here that they encounter the little seamstress of the title, whom Luo falls for instantly. When, through a series of comic and clever tricks and favors, the boys acquire a suitcase full of forbidden Western literature, Luo decides to "re-educate" the ignorant girl whom he hopes will become his intellectual match. That a bit of Balzac can have an aphrodisiac effect is a happy bonus. Ultimately, the book is a simple, lovely telling of a classic boy-meets-girl scenario with a folktale's smart, surprising bite at the finish.
Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, 500.9 DIL
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is the story of a dramatic year in Virginia's Blue Ridge valley. Annie Dillard sets out to see what she can see. What she sees are astonishing incidents of "mystery, death, beauty, violence." Whether she is quoting the Koran or Albert Einstein, describing the universe of an Eskimo shaman or the mating of luna moths, Annie Dillard offers up her own knowledge with reverence for her material and respect for her reader. She observes her surroundings faithfully, intimately, sharing what can be shared with anyone willing to wait and watch with her. In the end, however, "No matter how quiet we are, the muskrats stay hidden. Maybe they sense the tense hum of consciousness, the buzz from two human beings who in silence cannot help but be aware of each other, and so of themselves." The precision of individual words, the vitality of metaphor, the sheer profusion of sources, the vivid sensory and cerebral impressions - all combine to make Pilgrim at Tinker Creek something extravagant and extraordinary.
Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo, 840.7 DUM
Set against the tumultuous years of the post-Napoleonic era, The Count of Monte Cristo recounts the swashbuckling adventures of Edmond Dantes, a dashing young sailor falsely accused of treason. The story of his long imprisonment, dramatic escape, and carefully wrought revenge offers up a vision of France that has become immortal. Sentenced to life for a crime he did not commit, the hero escapes determined to exact revenge from his enemies.
Dumas, The Three Musketeers, 840.7 DUM
Perhaps the greatest "cloak and sword" story ever written, this is a story where the heroic young d'Artagnan and his compatriots are pitted against the evil Cardinal Richelieu and the equally wicked Lady de Winter.
Frank, Pat, Alas, Babylon, FIC FRA
A small Florida town is spared from the destruction that the rest of the world suffers when the bomb is dropped. The struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness.
Gaines, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,
Set in rural Louisiana, the novel spans 100 years of American history, following the life of the elderly Jane Pittman, who witnessed those years. A child at the end of the Civil War, Jane survives a massacre by former Confederate soldiers. This is her story and the story of America from the 1860s to the onset of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
A Lesson Before Dying, FIC GAI
A young black named Jefferson is a reluctant party in a shoot-out in a liquor store in which three other men involved are killed, including the white store owner. Jefferson, the only survivor, is accused of murder. At the trial, the essence of the defense is that the accused, a lowly form of existence lacking even a modicum of intelligence, is incapable of premeditated murder. But Jefferson is condemned to death. Jefferson's godmother persuade Grant Wiggins, a school teacher, to impart something of himself, of his learning and pride, to Jefferson before his death--to prove the lawyer wrong. This is the story of two men who, through no choice of their own, come together and form a bond in the realization that sometimes simply choosing to resist the expected is an act of heroism.
Garcia, Cristina, The Aguero Sisters, FIC GAR
Two Cuban sisters--one a master electrician in Havana, the other a successful cosmetics saleswoman in Miami--are reunited after a thirty-year separation and learn the truth behind their mother's tragic death at the hands of their father years earlier.
Gabriel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold,
A man returns to the town where a baffling murder took place 27 years earlier, determined to get to the bottom of the story. Just hours after marrying the beautiful Angela Vicario, everyone agrees, Bayardo San Roman returned his bride in disgrace to her parents. Her distraught family forced her to name her first lover; and her twin brothers announced their intention to murder Santiago Nasar for dishonoring their sister. Yet if everyone knew the murder was going to happen, why did no one intervene to stop it? The more that is learned, the less is understood, and as the story races to its inexplicable conclusion, an entire society--not just a pair of murderers—is put on trial. A spectacular wedding, a sudden scandal, and a murder to which an entire town appears to be an accessory are the elements of this extraordinary short novel.
Gabriel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, 863 GAR
The story follows 100 years in the life of Macondo, a village founded by José Arcadio Buendía and occupied by descendants all sporting variations on their progenitor's name: his sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano, and grandsons, Aureliano José, Aureliano Segundo, and José Arcadio Segundo. Then there are the women--the two Úrsulas, a handful of Remedios, Fernanda, and Pilar--who struggle to remain grounded even as their menfolk build castles in the air. If it is possible for a novel to be highly comic and deeply tragic at the same time, then One Hundred Years of Solitude does the trick. Civil war rages throughout, hearts break, dreams shatter, and lives are lost, yet the effect is literary pentimento, with sorrow's outlines bleeding through the vibrant colors of García Márquez's magical realism.
von Goethe, Sorrows of Young Werther, 833.6 GOE
One of the world's first best-sellers, this tragic masterpiece attained an instant and lasting success upon its 1774 publication. A sensitive exploration of the mind of a young artist, the tale addresses age-old questions—the meaning of love, of death, and the possibility of redemption—in the form of Werther's alternately joyful and despairing letters about his unrequited love. Goethe's portrayal of a character who struggles to reconcile his artistic sensibilities with the demands of the world proved tremendously influential to subsequent writers and continues to speak to modern readers.
Golden, Arthur, Memoirs of a Geisha, FIC
Nitta Sayuri, a young Japanese woman who was taken from her home at the age of nine and sold into slavery as a geisha, discovers a rare opportunity for freedom when the outbreak of World War II forces an end to the only life she has ever known.
Golding, Lord of the
Flies, FIC GOL
This novel explores the dark side of human nature and stresses the importance of reason and intelligence as tools for dealing with the chaos of existence. Children are evacuated from Britain because of a nuclear war. One airplane crashes on an uninhabited island, and all the adults are killed. The boys then fashion their own society.
Gordimer, Nadine, July's People, FIC GOR
When war break out in South Africa, a fugitive white family takes refuge with their black servant, July. So imagine their quandary when the blacks stage a full-scale revolution that sends the Smaleses scampering into isolation. The premise of the book is expertly crafted; it speaks much about the confusing state of affairs of South Africa and serves as the backbone for a terrific adventure.
Gordimer, Nadine, My Son's Story, FIC
The story of a man's evolution as a political activist and the toll it takes on his family and on him. As a schoolboy playing truant bumps into his revered father coming out of a cinema with a woman which set against a backdrop of daily life in segregated South Africa. It shows what it really was like to live a life determined by the struggle to be free.
Green (ed), King
Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table,
The immortal tales of King Arthur are full of mystery and wonder. From the magical moment when Arthur releases the sword in the stone to the quest for the Holy Grail and the final tragedy of the Last Battle, this retelling brings alive the enchanting world of King Arthur.
Haley, Roots, 920 HAL
After Haley grew up and became a writer, he began to search for documentation that might authenticate the stories of his family he'd heard as a child. It took ten years and a half million miles of travel but finally he traced his genealogical line. As the first black American writer to trace his origins back to their roots, Alex Haley has told the story of 25,000,000 Americans of African descent. Roots speaks to people everywhere because it tells the story of the human spirit.
Hazzard, Shirley, The Great
Fire, FIC HAZ
The time is 1947-48, and the place is, primarily, East Asia. Obviously, then, this is a locale much altered--by the events of World War II, of course, and, as we see, physical destruction and psychological wariness and weariness lay over the land. Our hero, and indeed he fills the requirements to be called one, is Aldred Leith, who is English and part of the occupation forces in Japan; his particular military task is damage survey. He has an interesting past, including, most recently, a two-year walk across civil-war-torn China to write a book. In the present, which readers will feel they inhabit right along with Leith, by way of Hazzard's beautifully atmospheric prose, he meets the teenage daughter and younger son of a local Australian commander. And, as Helen is growing headlong into womanhood, this novel of war's aftermath becomes a story of love--or more to the point, of the restoration of the capacity for love once global and personal trauma have been shed.
Hesse, Siddhartha, 833 HES
As a youth, the young Indian Siddhartha meets the Buddha but cannot be content with a disciple's role; he must work out his own destiny and solve his own doubt--a tortuous road that carries him through the sensuality of a love affair with a beautiful courtesan, the temptation of success and riches, the heartache of a struggle with his own son, to final self-knowledge.
Hilton, Lost Horizon, FIC HIL
Here is an adventure of the mind and the spirit as well as of the body. It is a strange tale about a man who found himself completely removed not only from the life he'd been living, but from all that we call the civilized world. In a remote part of Tibet, Hugh Conway's companions in this story are an American financier, an English missionary, and a young Englishman in the consular service.
Holthe, Tess Uriza, When the Elephants Dance, FIC HOL
In the waning days of World War II, as the Japanese and U.S. forces battle to possess the Philippine Islands, the Karangalan family hides with their neighbors in a cramped cellar, where they glean hope from the family stories and folktales they tell each other, These stories of love, survival, and family blend the supernatural with the rich, little known history of the Philippines, the centuries of Spanish colonization, the power of the Catholic church, and the colorful worlds of the Spanish, Mestizo, and Filipino cultures. As the villagers tell their stories in the darkened cellar below. Holthe masterfully weaves in the stories of three brave Filipinos—a teenage brother and sister and a guerilla fighter—as they become caught in the battle against the vicious Japanese forces above ground. Inspired by her father’s firsthand accounts of this period. Tee Uriza Holthe brings to the magical and terrifying life a story of the hope and courage needed to survive in wartime.
Hosseini, Khaled, A Thousand Splendid Suns, FIC HOS
Not just another searing epic of Afghanistan in turmoil... The story covers three decades of anti-Soviet jihad, civil war and Taliban tyranny through the lives of two women. Mariam is the scorned illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, forced at age 15 into marrying the 40-year-old Rasheed, who grows increasingly brutal as she fails to produce a child. Eighteen later, Rasheed takes another wife, 14-year-old Laila, a smart and spirited girl whose only other options, after her parents are killed by rocket fire, are prostitution or starvation. Against a backdrop of unending war, Mariam and Laila become allies in an asymmetrical battle with Rasheed, whose violent misogyny—"There was no cursing, no screaming, no pleading, no surprised yelps, only the systematic business of beating and being beaten"—is endorsed by custom and law. Hosseini gives a forceful but nuanced portrait of a patriarchal despotism where women are agonizingly dependent on fathers, husbands and especially sons, the bearing of male children being their sole path to social status. His tale is a powerful, harrowing depiction of Afghanistan, but also a lyrical evocation of the lives and enduring hopes of its resilient characters.
Miserables, 840.6 HUG
Sensational, dramatic, packed with rich excitement and filled with the sweep and violence of human passions, Les Miserables is not only superb adventure but a powerful social document. The story of how the convict Jean-Valjean struggled to escape his past and reaffirm his humanity, in a world brutalized by poverty and ignorance, became the gospel of the poor and the oppressed.
Ibsen, Henrik, A Doll's House, 839.82 IBS
Presents the script of the late nineteenth-century play about Nora, a woman whose husband expects her to be his petted little songbird, but who is in truth hiding a deceptive secret. A classic expression of women’s rights, the play builds to a climax where Nora rejects a smothering marriage and life in "a doll’s house.".
Ibsen, Henrik, Hedda Gabler, 839.82
Drama in which a 19th century Norwegian woman pays the consequences of her powerful but ruthless personality. One of the most widely studied and performed works in the theatrical repertoire, this dark psychological drama, first produced in Norway in 1890, depicts the evil machinations of a ruthless, nihilistic heroine. Readers will discover in the shocking events Hedda Gabler precipitates a masterly exploration of the nature of evil and the potential for tragedy that lies in human frailty.
Waiting, FIC JIN
Lin Kong struggles to balance his life between the two women he loves and the country that is trying to rule his life. This novel captures the poignant dilemma of an ordinary man who misses the best opportunities in his life simply by trying to do his duty as defined first by his traditional Chinese parents and later by the Communist Party. Reflecting the changes in Chinese communism from the '60s to the '80s, the novel focuses on Lin Kong, a military doctor who agrees, as his mother is dying, to an arranged marriage. His bride, Shuyu, turns out to be a country woman who looks far older than her 26 years and who has, to Lin's great embarrassment, lotus (bound) feet. While Shuyu remains at Lin's family home in Goose Village, nursing first his mother and then his ailing father, and bearing Lin a daughter, Lin lives far away in an army hospital compound, visiting only once a year. Caught in a loveless marriage, Lin is attracted to a nurse, Manna Wu, an attachment forbidden by communist strictures. According to local Party rules, Lin cannot divorce his wife without her permission until they have been separated for 18 years. Learn about a world alien to most Western readers.
Zorba the Greek, 889.332 KAZ
First published in Greek in 1946 as Vios kai politia tou Alexi Zormpa. The unnamed narrator is a scholarly, introspective writer who opens a coal mine on the fertile island of Crete. He is gradually drawn out of his ascetic shell by an elderly employee named Zorba, an ebullient man who revels in the social pleasures of eating, drinking, and dancing. The narrator's reentry into a life of experience is completed when his newfound lover, the village widow, is ritually murdered by a jealous mob.
Keyes, Flowers for Algernon, FIC KEY
Flowers for Algernon is the journal of Charlie Gordon, a mentally retarded adult who becomes a genius after undergoing a brain operation. Keyes gives Charlie Gordon a voice that conveys the full range of emotions Charlie experiences before and after the operation. Keyes conveys the drama with such intensity that it becomes almost painful to listen: the yearning of an amiable adult who longs to be as smart as those around him, the pain of the transformed man who must live with the newfound memories of cruel childhood rejection, and finally the horror of his diminishing intellectual capacity.
Lawrence, Inherit the Wind
An illuminating guide to the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee play, this favorite dramatizes the evolution-versus-creationism debate. It pits fundamentalist Matthew Harrison Brady against gifted orator Henry Drummond in the courtroom trial of a high school science teacher accused of teaching evolution. The townspeople in this play also dramatize what freedom of thought as well as "the right to be wrong" truly mean.
Lee, G., China Boy, FIC LEE
The story of Kai Ting's coming of age in the San Francisco slums could be the story of any sensitive young boy struggling to overcome the bullies on the mean streets of a big city. Change the Chinese to Yiddish or Italian and the tale would be the same. Brutalized by a stepmother determined to expunge all traces of his Chinese mother from the home, Kai finds himself the punching bag for every bully in the neighborhood. His salvation is the YMCA; his mentors, a group of retired boxers. China Boy resonates with strong characterizations, evocative descriptions of San Francisco in the 1950s, and the righteous indignation of abused innocence.
Lewis, C.S., Out of the Silent Planet, FIC LEW
On a walking trip, Dr. Ransom, Cambridge philologist, encounters two old school friends by whom he is, quite unexpectedly, abducted and drugged. Waking from this bad treatment, Ransom finds himself en route to a distant planet, Mars- or Malacandra, as its inhabitants call it. Accompany Dr. Ransom through the unknown onto the weird planet Malacandra, and revel in the voyage and in the strange beauty and the strange horror which await him.
If Not Now, When?, FIC LEV
In the final days of World War II, a courageous band of Jewish partisans makes its way from Russia to Italy, moving toward the ultimate goal of Palestine. Based on a true story, If Not Now, When? Chronicles their adventures as they wage a personal war of revenge against the Nazis: blowing up trains, rescuing the last victims of concentration camps, scoring victories in the face of unspeakable devastation. Primo Levi captures the landscape and the people of Eastern Europe in vivid detail, depicting as well the terrible bleakness of war-ridden Europe. But finally, what he gives us is a tribute to the strength and ingenuity of the human spirit.
Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley, FIC LLE
Classic novel about a boy's childhood in the mining district of South Wales; Morgan is about to leave home forever. As a huge slag heap slides down upon his childhood home, Morgan reminisces about the days when South Wales prospered, when coal dust had not blackened the valley. The story is told with Welsh humor, and the characters fight, love, laugh and cry, creating an indelible portrait of a people that will live in your memory.
Machiavelli, The Prince, 321 MAC
For over 400 years, this has been the basic handbook of politics, statesmanship and power. Written by an Italian nobleman whose name became a synonym for crafty plotting, this fascinating document sets down the rules and moves in the ageless game of politics. The result is this highly readable, witty and shrewd formula that is required reading for anyone interested in politics and power.
Malory, Morte d'Arthur, FIC MAL
The rousing epic of King Arthur and his court has had a lasting effect on the traditions and literature of the English-speaking peoples. These well-known tales represent the bridge between pagan and Christian, Druid and Roman. Arthur emerges at the end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of a British nation.
in a Sieve, 891 MAR
Married as a child bride to a tenant farmer, Rukmani had never seen, she worked side by side in the field with her husband to scrap a living out of the land. With courage she met the changing times and fight poverty and disaster. She saw one of her infants die of starvation, her daughter become a prostitute, and her sons leave the land for jobs which she distrusted. Here is an Indian novel comparable in many ways to Cry, the Beloved Country -- a novel that will capture your heart.
Yann, The Life of Pi, FIC MAR
Pi Patel, having spent an idyllic childhood in Pondicherry, India, as the son of a zookeeper, sets off with his family at the age of sixteen to start anew in Canada, but his life takes a marvelous turn when their ship sinks in the Pacific, leaving him adrift on a raft with a 450-pound Bengal tiger for company.
Mehta, Gita, A River Sutra, FIC MEH
A sequence of delicate, tragic stories evokes the profound presence of tradition and desire along the banks of the holy river Narmada. A retired bureaucrat, initially ignorant of the river's bright and dark powers, hears these stories as he encounters their protagonists: a privileged young executive bewitched by a mysterious lover; a neophyte Jain monk moving from opulence to poverty; and an intense ascetic who resurfaces in a surprising reincarnation. For all the horror and passion of the tales, the bureaucrat remains little moved until book's end. As in folktale, the stories' dynamics dominate their characters, who serve primarily to illustrate cultural and religious forces.
Mishima, Yukio, Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the
Sea, 895.6 MIS
English translation of a Japanese novel tells of Noboru, a thirteen-year-old boy who becomes involved with a gang of savage youths who turn their deadly attentions on Noboru's prospective stepfather.
Ondaatje, The English Patient, FIC
A poetic novel of four damaged lives in an Italian monastery as World War II ends. The exhausted nurse, Hana; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burn victim who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning.
Ann. Bel Canto, FIC PAT
In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry. Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator names Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months. The author flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity.
Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country, FIC PAT
Novel about a black man's country under white man's law. When this novel first appeared, it was compared favorably with Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and praised for its lack of bias in presenting "a calm and clear statement, in human terms, of South Africa." The author wrote about his own observations of the social and moral disintegration of South Africa, the drift of young men to Johannesburg and the consequent problem of urbanization and growing frustration and crime within the townships, above all the crime of man's inhumanity to man.
Plath, The Bell Jar, FIC PLA
The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman's mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. The real Plath committed suicide in 1963 and left behind this scathingly sad, honest and perfectly-written book, which remains one of the best-told tales of a woman's descent into insanity.
Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, 833 REM
"I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair..." This is the testament of Paul Baumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army of World War I. They become soldiers with enthusiasm, but everything they have been taught breaks into pieces when they experience the horror of war.
Rose, Twelve Angry Men, 812 ROS
Could you sit with eleven other people and decide someone's fate? This short play in three acts studies the interaction between jury members. A great look at stereotyping, justice, and fairness.
Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, 842 ROS
Does she fall in love with his looks or with his words? This is an immortal play in which chivalry and wit, bravery and love are forever captured in the timeless spirit of romance. Set in Louis XIII's reign, it is the moving and exciting drama of one of the finest swordsmen in France, gallant soldier, brilliant wit, and tragic lover with a big nose.
Saramago, Jose, Blindness, 869.3 SAR
A city is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and assaulting women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation and a vivid evocation of the horrors of the twentieth century, Blindness is a powerful portrayal of man’s worst appetites and weaknesses—and man’s ultimately exhilarating spirit.
Saroyan, The Human
Comedy, FIC SAR
A humorous and captivating story of an American family in wartime. The place is Ithaca, in California's San Joaquin Valley. Fourteen-year-old Homer, determined to become the fastest telegraph messenger in the West, finds himself caught between reality and illusion as he is delivering messages of wartime death, love, and money.
Scott, Ivanhoe, FIC SCO
In the twelfth century, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe returns home to England from the Third Crusade to claim his inheritance and the love of the lady Rowena. The heroic adventures of this noble Saxon knight involve him in the struggle between Richard the Lion-Hearted and his malignant brother John: a conflict that brings Ivanhoe into alliance with the mysterious outlaw Robin Hood and his legendary fight for the forces of good. It is a story of the crusades, chivalry and courtly love.
Silko, Leslie, Ceremony, FIC SIL
Follows Tayo, a young Native American, after his release from a veteran's hospital following World War II as he searches for meaning and sanity in his life. Tayo discovers his connection to the land and to ancient rituals with the help of a medicine man, and comes to understand the need to create ceremonies, to grow and change, in order to survive. He finds peace by "finally seeing the pattern, the way all the stories fit together -- the old stories, the war stories, their stories -- to become the story that was still being told.".
Steinbeck, Of Mice
and Men, FIC STE
This novel is of the desperate longing in men for some kind of home--roots that they can believe in, land that they can care for--and the painful search for self. This beautiful timeless novel speaks of love that men can feel for each other--one inarticulate, dumb, sometimes violent in his needs; the other clever, hopeful, and tied to a responsibility he thinks he doesn't want.
Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, FIC STE
Good and evil is in all of us. But what happens when Dr. Jekyll, a doctor during the day, discovers a drug which will create another personality that absorbs all his evil instincts? Find out what happens when Dr. Hyde takes over Dr. Jekyll's life.
Tolkien, The Hobbit, FIC TOL
Enjoy this 60th anniversary edition of a great modern classic! Written for his own children, The Hobbit is the story of Bilbo Baggins who finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.
Tolkien, Return of the King, FIC TOL
As the Shadow of Mordor grows across the land, the Companions of the Ring have become involved in separate adventures. Aragorn, revealed as the hidden heir of the ancient Kings of the West, has joined with the Riders of Rohan against the force of Isengard, and takes part in the desperate victory of the Hornburg. Merry and Pippin, captured by Orcs, escape into Fangorn Forest and there encounter to Ents. Gandalf has miraculously returned and defeated the evil wizard, Saruman. Sam has left his master for dead after a battle with the giant spider, Shelop - but Frodo is still alive, now in the foul hands of the Orcs. And all the while, the armies of the Dark Lord are massing as the One Ring draws ever nearer to the Cracks of Doom.
Women of the Silk, FIC TSU
When Pei Chung is eight years old, her father leaves her at the house of Auntie Yee so that she can work in the silk factory. Her grief at the unexplained abandonment is softened by the kindness of Yee and the other girls, and slowly she begins to thrive in her new independence. The friendship between Pei and Lin, who is the support of her once wealthy and powerful family, is forged with the lives of the silk workers who begin to demand better conditions. The China of 1919-1938, when the Japanese threat became a reality, is woven into the threads of factory life and that of families faced with ruin. The characters are drawn with fine detail. Small village life contrasts vividly with an exciting visit to Canton, and ceremonies are exquisitely described.
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons, 891.7 TUR
Controversial at the time of publication, this Russian novel concerns the inevitable conflict between generations and between the values of traditionalists and intellectuals. Its hero, Dr. Bazarov, is a new man, a nihilist, uncouth and forthright in his opinions and at odds with the status quo. This is the moving story of human relationships.
Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, FIC TWA
Considered to be one of Mark Twain’s finest and most caustic works, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is both an entertaining story and a disturbing analysis of society. Hank Morgan brings a taste of the future to King Arthur’s medieval society, resulting in a whopper of a culture clash.
Twain, The Prince and the Pauper, FIC TWA
This entertaining tale of changed identities takes place in the era of Henry VIII. The prince and pauper, identical in appearance, change places as a prank. Out of the theme of switched identities comes a scathing attack on social hypocrisy and injustice.
Voltaire, Candide, 843.5 VOL
Eighteenth century comic masterpiece dealing with problems of suffering, evil, and the resilience of human nature. In Candide, a glorious satire, a young hero and friends are whisked through a ludicrous variety of tortures, tragedies and reversals of fortune. The play is a challenge to the idea of Voltaire's day that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds."
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880) by Lew Wallace is one of the most popular and beloved 19th century American novels. This faithful New Testament tale combines the events of the life of Jesus with grand historical spectacle in the exciting story of Judah of the House of Hur, a man who finds extraordinary redemption for himself and his family.
Wells, H.G., The Time Machine, FIC WEL
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a scientist builds a machine that takes him into the future where he encounters two very different civilizations.
Welty, One Writer's Beginnings, 921 WEL
Here is the acclaimed bestseller by a Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer. It is a richly detailed glimpse into her childhood--a story that illuminates the mind, heart, and wonderful imagination of one of our greatest living writers.
White, T.H., The Once and Future King, FIC WHI
Based on medieval Arthurian legends, The Once and Future King is a twentieth-century version of young Arthur's quest for the sword Excalibur and his claim to the throne of England. Including many well-known and much-loved episodes with Merlyn, the sorcerer; Morgan La Fay, the witch; and knights jousting and hounds engaged in the hunt, White's novel adds to the lore surrounding the person of King Arthur.
Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, FIC WIL
Reconstruction of five lives lost when the finest bridge in all Peru collapses. "On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below." With this celebrated sentence Thornton Wilder begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world. By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper then embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His search leads to his own death -- and to the author's timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition.
Wiesenthal, Simon, The Sunflower: on the possibilities and limits of forgiveness, 179.7 WIE
While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Simon Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying member of the SS. Haunted by the crimes in which he had participated, the soldier wanted to confess to--and obtain absolution from--a Jew. Faced with the choice between compassion and justice, silence and truth, Wiesenthal said nothing. But even years after the way had ended, he wondered: Had he done the right thing? What would you have done in his place? In this important book, fifty-three distinguished men and women respond to Wiesenthal's questions. They are theologians, political leaders, writers, jurists, psychiatrists, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors, and victims of attempted genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, China and Tibet. Their responses, as varied as their experiences of the world, remind us that Wiesenthal's questions are not limited to events of the past. Often surprising and always thought provoking, The Sunflower will challenge you to define your beliefs about justice, compassion, and human responsibility.
Wilentz, Martyrs' Crossing,
An ill Palestinian child dies at an Israeli-border checkpoint while the young post commander is pressing headquarters for permission to allow the boy and his mother to cross into Israel for medical care. The Palestinian political leaders proclaim the boy a martyr, rallying crowds with a cry for vengeance: "Find the soldier." The Israeli military's doctor fashions a version of the event to shield the army from blame. From this realistic beginning, Martyrs' Crossing dramatizes how easily tragic events escalate into violence. The mother of the dead boy is American-born Marina Hajimi, who married Hassan, a Palestinian. A Hamas activist, he is imprisoned in Israel. Marina's father is an eminent American cardiologist, an intellectual who fled Palestine with his family in 1948 and who is critical of a Palestinian authority he believes is corrupt. Lieutenant Ari Doron, empathetic and "unassailably honest," finds himself affected by the pain and the beauty of this woman whose son is dead because he refused to disobey orders. The major characters are principled people, torn by grief and guilt but unwilling to be manipulated for political purposes. Some of the other characters are less nobly motivated. Teens who are interested in the Middle East will come away from the novel with a better understanding of why the conflict so defies resolution.
Wu Ch'eng-en, Monkey, 895.1 WU
Probably the most popular book in the history of the Far East, this classic sixteenth century novel is a combination of picaresque novel and folk epic that mixes satire, allegory, and history into a rollicking adventure. Monkey depicts the adventures of Prince Tripitaka, a young Buddhist priest on a dangerous pilgrimage to India to retrieve sacred scriptures accompanied by his three unruly disciples: the greedy pig creature Pipsy, the river monster Sandy and Monkey. Hatched from a stone egg and given the secrets of heaven and earth, the irrepressible trickster Monkey can ride on the clouds, become invisible and transform into other shapes skills that prove very useful when the four travelers come up against the dragons, bandits, demons and evil wizards that threaten to prevent them in their quest. Wu Ch'eng-en wrote Monkey in the mid-sixteenth century, adding his own distinctive style to an ancient Chinese legend, and in so doing created a dazzling combination of nonsense with profundity, slapstick comedy with spiritual wisdom. This translation, by the distinguished scholar Arthur Waley, is the first accurate English version; it makes available to the Western reader a faithful reproduction of the spirit and meaning of the original.
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