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Throughout the novel we observe her sense of morality, which is tested by the situations she finds herself in — first during her abusive childhood and then in her response to the passionate feelings she experiences towards Mr.
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens Here is another coming-of-age story, and arguably one of the greatest ever told. Like all his novels, Great Expectations is full of humour and populated by an entertaining cast of brilliantly-named characters. Along the way he meets the enigmatic Miss Havisham, an old lady jilted at the altar decades ago, who has frozen everything in her house at the moment at which her life was so tragically altered.
The image of her wedding cake, still on the table but covered in cobwebs and mould, is one of many enduring and vivid scenes in this brilliant novel, which explores a number of moral themes including what it means to be a gentleman. Its nameless narrator tells the chilling tale of her experiences at Manderley, the house at the centre of the story, after marrying Maxim de Winter, its owner. We follow the second Mrs.
Austen herself was on the outskirts of the aristocracy, well-placed to write about the people and situations she undoubtedly met with in real life.
Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey; take your pick, but if forced to choose, my personal favourite is Emma, the tale of a well-meaning but headstrong young woman who makes it her mission to act as matchmaker to local villagers — with disastrous consequences both to them and to her own chances of romance.
Boldwood, and a dashing but rakish soldier, Sergeant Troy. Love and its sometimes dangerous and destructive power are explored among a number of other themes, including luck and tragedy.
These remarkable novels have all left their mark on popular culture and embedded themselves into the English psyche. Email We've been told all our lives that we can only call ourselves well-read once we've read the Great Books. We tried. But a few pages into Bleak House, we realized that not all the Great Books have aged well.
Some are racist and some are sexist, but most are just really, really boring. So we—and a group of un-boring writers—give you permission to strike these books from the canon.
Here's what you should read instead. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry Instead: The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford I actually love Lonesome Dove, but I'm convinced that the cowboy mythos, with its rigid masculine emotional landscape, glorification of guns and destruction, and misogynistic gender roles, is a major factor in the degradation of America.
It's a wicked, brilliant, dark book set largely on a ranch in Colorado, but it acts in many ways as a strong rebuttal to all the old toxic western stereotypes we all need to explode.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. I read it because everyone else in school was reading it but thought it was totally silly.
Now, looking back, I find that it is without any literary merit whatsoever. Why waste adolescents' time? Alternatively, I'd suggest Olivia, the story of a British teenage girl who is sent to a boarding school in France. It is short and written in a kind of levelheaded and deceptively straightforward style.
Olivia eventually falls in love with her teacher Mademoiselle Julie T, who in turn, and without reciprocating that love out loud, is equally in love with Olivia. Julie never takes a wrong step, but there are signs for those who know how to read them. I read Olivia many, many times, bought it for many of my friends, and consider it the inspiration for Call Me by Your Name. It's also incredibly racist. The joke is twofold—all these silly natives have similar-sounding names, and they lack the basic intellectual capacity to grapple with the literature.
A better option is Dispatches by Michael Herr. It concerns a different time, country, and war, but this is still, in my mind, the most indispensable personal account of the cruelty and violence of modern warfare.
It left me unmoved. Mostly, I kept hoping the fish would get away without too much damage.
When my grandpa pushed me to catch a trout at a fish farm, I threw the rod into the pond. This series of vignettes about a grandmother and granddaughter living on a remote Finnish island is not just heartwarming: In its views of both Nature and human nature, it teaches us what it is to be in sync with the world.
All of Jansson's adult fiction is deeply humane and beautiful. Unlike the entitled desert wandering of The Alchemist, Wild Heart's contemplations are inward and complex.
For Lispector, there aren't easy answers—and her universe sure as hell is not interested in your hopes and dreams.
Though it was published in , the book feels both contemporaneous with that period and wholly contemporary.
Hazzard just writes so damn well, every sentence a gem. Set in the Old West and written in an impenetrable style that combines Faulkner and the King James Bible, Blood Meridian is a big, forbidding book that earns the reader bragging rights but provides scant pleasure. If you're looking for a more human-scaled, emotionally engaging novel set in the same time period, I'd recommend The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.
It's a dark, funny, brutal Western about a pair of hired killers, at least one of whom has a conscience. It covers some of the same ground as Blood Meridian and has a lot more fun along the way. Fletcher' 8. They also happen to be the driest, boringest tomes you'll ever sludge through.
One time I read his book about the history of the Panama Canal, and it required about as much sweat and labor as it took to build the actual canal. For some kick-ass history, read Destiny of the Republic, about the assassination of President Garfield, the doctors who tried to save him but actually ended up killing him, and the frantic attempt by a deranged Alexander Graham Bell to invent a machine to find the bullet located in the president's body. All in a relatively tidy pages.
At no point will you feel like there's a test at the end. He did, as is evidenced by this, his book of tedious, meandering stories—but he also wrote a lot of richly entertaining meandering stories that are not constrained by the ham-fisted narration of a fictional backcountry child or suffused with his sweaty imitation of a slave talking.
Alternatively, read Frederick Douglass's firsthand account of slavery, which is equal parts shocking and heartbreaking.
It's also an invigorating revenge story: Douglass identifies slave owners by name and hometown, detailing their crimes with such specificity that their descendants will be embarrassed forever.
Just read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was a man of his time, so let's leave him there.
We don't need him. It's one of my favorite books: sad, poetic, philosophical, and funny, with some of the best writing I've read. Shirer Several people described The Ambassadors by Henry James in such a way as to make me impatient to read it, but between those descriptions and my experience of the book lay a chasm of such yawningness that it will never be crossed. I suspect that contemporary readers feel no great urge to pick it up because—in a way that doesn't happen with fiction—it has been rendered somewhat obsolete by more recent books on the subject.