Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Reading Lists

Writing about Houses and Objects Inside Houses -Quotes from the Book Great House by Nicole Krauss

Please Note: The following summary is a spoiler. My primary reason for studying this book was to note how an object of furniture can play a significant role in both a story and a book. I also read this book as a study of books told from multiple perspectives.

On one level, Nicole Krauss’s book Great House is about an old writing desk that had nineteen drawers. On another level, the book is a series of stories about the family who had originally owned the desk, and the desk becomes the  common thread of the stories. Great House is told from multiple perspectives.

I Part 1 of the book and in the subsection “All Rise,” the year is 1972 and Nadia, a writer, acquires the desk from the fictional Chilean poet Daniel Varsky, who suggests that the desk may originally have belonged to Lorca, who was an actual person.

In 1972, Nadia takes possession of Varsky’s furniture, including his desk. She had recently divorced, and she had no furniture. She agreed to keep Varsky’s furniture until he returned for it.

A few years later, Varsky was assassinated.

In 1999, a person claiming to be named Leah Weisz and the daughter of Daniel Varsky called, saying that she wanted to reclaim her father’s desk.

While waiting for the person who called herself Leah to come and take the desk away, Nadia realizes that the desk was more than a piece of furniture to her and says the following about it:

“I looked across the room at the wooden desk at which I had written seven novels, and on whose surface, in the cone of light cast by a lamp, lay the piles of pages and notes that were to constitute an eighth. One drawer was slightly ajar, one of the nineteen drawers, some small and some large, whose odd number and strange array, I realized now, on the cusp of their being suddenly taken from me, had come to signify a kind of guiding if mysterious order in my life, an order than when m work was going well, took on an almost mystical quality. Nineteen drawers of varying size some below the desktop and some above, whose [p. 30] mundane occupations (stamps here, paper clips there) had a far more complex design, the blueprint of the mind formed over tens of thousands of days of thinking while staring at them, as if they held the conclusion to a stubborn sentence, the culminating phrase, the radical break from everything I had ever written that would at last lead to the book I had always wanted, and always failed, to write. Those drawers represented a singular logic deeply embedded, a pattern of consciousness that could be articulated in no other way but their precise number and arrangement.” Krauss, Nicole. Great House, pgs. 30-31.

The second Segment, “True Kindness,” introduces Dov, Dov’s son, and Dov’s brother Uri. In this segment, we are also introduced to the house:

“WE STOOOD in the hall of the house that had once been all of our house, a house that had been filled with life, every last room of it brimming with laughter, arguments, tears, dust the smell of food, pain, desire, anger, and silence, too, the tightly coiled silence of people pressed up against each other in what is called a family.” Krauss, Nicole. Great House, p. 106.

The brothers leave the house, and twenty-five years later, one returns:

“And just like that you walked back into the house that you had left so long ago. I heard your footsteps slowly ascend the stairs.

“Were they the lepers, Dov, those other kids? It that why you held yourself apart? Or was it you And the two of us, closed up together in this house–are the saved or the condemned?”

“A long silence while you must have stood at the threshold of your old room. Then the creak of the floorboards, and the sound of your door closing again after twenty-five years.”  Krauss, Nicole. Great House, p. 113.

In the third section, “Swimming Holes,” we discover that the desk is in the apartment of Lotte Berg, who lived in England. Her apartment overlooked a section of bombed ruins:  

“Many times I saw Lotte staring at those ruins with their solitary chimneys. The first time I visited her room I was amazed at how little was in it. She’d been in England for almost ten years by then, but, aside from her desk, there were only a few sticks of plain furniture, and much later I came to understand that in a certain way the walls and ceiling of her own room were as nonexistent to here as those across the street.

” Her desk, however, was something else entirely. In that simple, small room it overshadowed everything else like some sort of grotesque, threatening monster, clinging to most of one wall and bullying the other pathetic bit of furniture to the far corner, where they seemed to cling together, as if under some sinister magnetic force. It was made of dark wood and above the writing surface was a wall of drawers, drawers of totally impractical sizes, like the desk of a medieval sorcerer. Except that every last drawer was empty, something that I discovered one evening while waiting for Lotte, who had gone down the hall to use the lavatory, and which somehow made the desk, the specter of that enormous desk, really more like a ship than a desk, a ship riding a pitch-black sea in the dead of a moonless night with no hope of land in any direction, even more unnerving. It [p. 126] was, I always thought, a very masculine desk. At times, or from time to time when I came to  pick her up, I even felt a kind of strange, inexplicable jealousy overtake me when she opened the door and there, hovering behind her, threatening to swallow her up, was that tremendous body of furniture.

“‘One day I got up the courage to ask her where she had found it. She was as poor as a church mouse….her answer plunged me into despair: It was a gift, she said. …nothing more was said on the subject.” Krauss, Nicole. Great House, pgs. 126-27.

Lotte moves into the apartment of her lover [the narrator of this section], who had hoped that she would leave the desk behind, but she did not.

“I heard a pounding at the door, and there it was, resting on the landing, its dark, almost ebony, wood gleaming with a vengeance.”  Krauss, Nicole. Great House, p. 130.

A young man named Daniel Varsky visited Lotte, and she gave the desk to him. Lotte’s lover didn’t undertand why, but he discovered that Lotte had given up her own son who was about the same age as Daniel Varsky.

In the fourth section, the year is 1998, and  Isabel oIzzy, the narrator of this story, meets and falls in love with Yoav Weisz. Yoav and his sister Leah were living in England in a Victorian house owned by their father George Weisz. He was an antique dealer, and he spent most of his time traveling to buy antiques. While the father was away, the narrator lived in the house with Yoav and Leah. 

The father is haunted by memories of his own childhood home before the Nazis took away his parents and stole its lavish furnishings. George Weisz is obsessed with finding all of the furniture again. George Weisz discovers that Nadia has the desk in New York, and He sent Leah there to reclaim it.

During this segment, we discover that Leah and Yoav’s mother had died when Leah was seven and Yoav was eight. For years, their father essentially locked them in their home and removed them from society. During this time, the family moved a lot, and the family’s lifestyle becomes questionable.

We discover in this section that George Weisz uses a walking stick that has a silver ram at the top. 

At the beginning of Part Two the brothers Uri and Dov are living in Israel. Cov has become increasingly sullen, and people like Uri. Do announces that he is moving to England. In this segment, Dov and Uri’s father is the narrator, and he expresses his grief about how Do had become more and more disenchanted with and withdrawn from life. The father comments that Dov had even given up on his decision to beDov and Uri’s father is a judge, and from the time that we first met Nadia, she seems to be telling her story to a judge.

In the second segment of Part Two, “All Rise,” Nadia has gone to Jerusalem. It seems that she has a need to reconnect with the desk, and Leah had left her address as living at Ha’Oren Street in Israel.

In Israel, Nadia meets a young man named Adam, who she thinks looks very much like Daniel Varsky. She also thought that Leah had looked like Varsky. Adam becomes Nadia’s driver and drives her to the address at Ha’Oren Street. The man there says that he doesn’t know anything about the desk, and that no one named Leah is at his house. That man is Leah’s father George Weisz. He walks with Weisz’s walking stick.

Adam robs Nadia, and Nadia, in turn, takes Adam’s roommate’s car and begins driving. En route, she runs over the judge, who is now in the hospital. Nadia is at his bedside telling him this story.

In the next segment of Part Two, also titled “Swimming Holes,” Lotte dies and her husband of fifty years begins consulting a man name Gottlieb about the creation of his will. The lover tells Gottlieb about Lotte’s desk:

“To call it a desk is to say too little. The word conjures some homely, unassuming article of the work or domesticity, a selfless and practical object that is always poised to offer up its back for its owner to make use of, and which, when not in use, occupies its allotted space with humility. Well, I told Gottlieb, you can cancel that image immediately. This desk was something else entirely: an enormous, foreboding thing that bore down on the occupants of the room in inhabited, pretending to be inanimate but, like a Venus flytrap, ready to pounce on them and digest them via one of its many little terrible drawers. Perhaps you think I’m making a caricature of it. I don’t blame you. You’d have to have seen the desk with your own eyes to understand that what I’m telling you is perfectly [p. 370] accurate. It took up almost half of her rented room. The first time she allowed me to stay the night with her in that tiny pathetic bed that cowered in the shadow of the desk, I woke up in a cold sweat. It loomed above us, a dark and shapeless form.”  Krauss, Nicole. Great House, pgs. 370-71.

Lotte’s husband wants Gottlieb to find Lotte’s son, and Gottlieb did find the names and address of the people who had adopted the child. Lotte’s husband, who is finally named Arthur Bender, goes to Liverpool to try to meet the son, but when he speak’s to the adoptive mother, the mother tells Bender that her son had died twenty-seven years earlier.

In the end, George Weisz realizes that his daughter Lotte had double-crossed him and that instead of delivering the desk to her father in Israel, she had hid it from him by  locking it in a New York City Storage Unit. George Weisz tracks down the address where the desk is stored, he pays $1,000 to spend only one hour with the desk:

“I opened the door. The room was cold, and had no window. For an instant I almost believed I would find my father stooped over the desk, his pen moving across the page. But the tremendous desk stood alone, mute and uncomprehending. Three or four drawers hung open, all of them empty. But the one I locked as a child, sixty-six years later was locked still. I reached out and touched the surface of the desk. There were a few scratches, but otherwise those who had sat at it had left no mark. ” Krauss, Nicole. Great House, p. 431.

©Jacki Kellum September 28, 2016

Jacki Kellum Read This Book September 28, 2016

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren – A Book that Was Formerly Banned – Consider the 2016 Presidential Campaign & Freedoms That We Take for Granted

September 25 through October 1, 2016, is Banned Books Week. Visit jackikellum.com to find a list of the books most often banned Here.  I compiled the list earlier today, and when I saw All the King’s Men listed, my mind somehow connected America’s current political situation  and the fact that America has not always been a nation of absolute freedom. When you look at the entire list of banned books on Wikipedia, you will see that seemingly harmless books have been banned in the past. Children’s books–even children’s picture books–have been banned in the past. I cannot help but consider that this nation could easily revert to a time when we, as Americans, have fewer and fewer freedoms. We could easily lose our freedom to read, once more.

All the King’s Men was published in 1949, and it won the Pulitzer Prize. Today, the book is often considered as one of the finest books  that has been written about American politics.  “It describes the career of Willie Stark, a back-country lawyer whose idealism is overcome by his lust for power. This landmark book is a loosely fictionalized account of Governor Huey Long of Louisiana, one of the nation’s most astounding politicians. All the King’s Men tells the story of Willie Stark, a southern-fried politician who builds support by appealing to the common man and playing dirty politics with the best of the back-room deal-makers. …The award-winning book is a play of politics, society and personal affairs, all wrapped in the cloak of history.” Amazon

I can easily see that as more and more greedy, paranoid, and power-hungry politicians are elected, books that expose that kind of corruption might be banned again, and that is a dangerous possibility. Reading is the way that we recall how truly bad things can be when we begin sliding down slippery slopes.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

political_donkey_elephant_2016

I feel quite sure that Hillary Clinton has broken laws and that she has done everything possible to cover up that reality. I don’t, however, believe that Donald Trump has a clean slate. In fact, I suspect that Donald Trump has simply not been caught breaking laws, and to top that problem, he does seem to have a Willie-Stark-like political greediness and hunger for power. When unscrupulous people who are already trying to cover up their mistakes get into power, the American citizens stand to lose many of their freedoms.

I can envision a time when the banning of books could become a problem again.

Image result for 1984 george orwell

I can even envision a time when burning books could happen.

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George Orwell’s 1984 Has Also Been A Banned Book Before

I am not an alarmist. I am not even political, but today, as I began assembling the list of books that have been banned before, I began to be concerned.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

I cannot remember a time when the options for electing a good president seemed as grim as they do in 2016. In my opinion, 2016 is a particularly good year to be thankful for the freedoms that we still enjoy, and one of those is the freedom to read–and to write.

©Jacki Kellum September 25, 2016

 

Banned Books On My Reading List – Celebrate Banned Books Week September 25, 2016

Product DetailsAlexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

Product DetailsAllende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.
The House of the Spirits brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife, Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter Blanca embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her implacable father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: his adored granddaughter Alba, a beautiful and strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future.
One of the most important novels of the twentieth century,

Product DetailsAngelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime.

Product DetailsAsher, Jay. Thirteen Reasons Why.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

 

Product DetailsAtwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. 

In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Product DetailsBaldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain.
On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

Product DetailsBannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Black Sambo.

The Story of Little Black Sambo is a children’s book written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman, and first published by Grant Richards in October 1899 as one in a series of small-format books called The Dumpy Books for Children. Sambo is a South Indian boy who encounters four hungry tigers, and surrenders his colourful new clothes, shoes, and umbrella so they will not eat him. The tigers are vain and each thinks he is better dressed than the others. They chase each other around a tree until they are reduced to a pool of melted butter; Sambo then recovers his clothes and his mother makes pancakes of the butter

Product DetailsBisinger, H.G. Friday Night Lights.
Return once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa—the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Socially and racially divided, Odessa isn’t known to be a place big on dreams, but every Friday night from September to December, when the Panthers play football, dreams can come true.
With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires—and sometimes shatters—the teenagers who wear the Panthers’ uniforms.

Product DetailsBradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.
In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s classic, frightening vision of the future, firemen don’t put out fires–they start them in order to burn books. Bradbury’s vividly painted society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal–a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad. Fire Captain Beatty explains it this way, “Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs…. Don’t give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.”
Guy Montag is a book-burning fireman undergoing a crisis of faith.

Product DetailsBurgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange.

A vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic. In Anthony Burgess’s nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends’ social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex to “redeem” him, the novel asks, “At what cost?” This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition and Burgess’s introduction “A Clockwork Orange Resucked.”

Product DetailsCapote, Truman. In Cold Blood.
On assignment from the New Yorker, author Truman Capote, along with his assistant Nell Harper Lee, traveled to Holcomb in late 1959 to investigate the killings for an article. The article was completed, but still Capote remained in Holcomb. He conducted interviews with every person in town; he pored over police records and statements. Once the killers, drifters Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, were caught and sentenced, he even interviewed them on Death Row. The Clutter killings became an obsession for him; and that obsession turned into a book that would become a literary milestone,

 

Product DetailsCollins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

Product DetailsCooney, Caroline B. The Face on the Milk Carton.
In the vein of psychological thrillers like We Were Liars, Girl on the Train, and Beware That Girl, bestselling author Caroline Cooney’s JANIE series delivers on every level. Mystery and suspense blend seamlessly with issues of family, friendship and love to offer an emotionally evocative thrill ride of a read.
…a three-year-old who had been kidnapped twelve years before from a shopping mall in New Jersey—she felt overcome with shock. She recognized that little girl—it was she. How could it possibly be true?

 

Product DetailsCormier, Robert. The Chocolate War.
One of the most controversial YA novels of all time, The Chocolate War is a modern masterpiece that speaks to fans of S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and John Knowles’s A Separate Peace.
After suffering rejection from seven major publishers, The Chocolate War made its debut in 1974, and quickly became a bestselling—and provocative—classic for young adults. This chilling portrait of an all-boys prep school casts an unflinching eye on the pitfalls of conformity and corruption in our most elite cultural institutions.
“Masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful.”—The New York Times Book Review


Product DetailsCormier, Robert. We All Fall Down.

They entered the house at 9:02 P.M. and trashed their way through the Cape Cod cottage. At 9:46 P.M. Karen Jerome made the mistake of arriving home early. Thrown down the basement stairs, Karen slips into a coma. The trashers slip away.
In an unapologetically severe story about four boys who victimize Karen Jerome and her family, Cormier once again explores the potential for malice in all of us. The teenagers leave the Jeromes’ home in ruin; Karen is assaulted and subsequently hospitalized in a coma. Not for the squeamish, Cormier’s novel doesn’t mince words:

Product DetailsDreiser, Theodore. An American Tragedy. 
Clyde Griffiths finds his social-climbing aspirations and love for a rich and beautiful debutante threatened when his lower-class pregnant girlfriend gives him an ultimatum. Theodore Dreiser set out to create an epic character and, in the form of Clyde Griffiths in An American Tragedy, he succeeded. Griffiths is just a Midwest kid, the son of a preacher in Kansas City, who tastes a little sophistication and then hits the road seeking pleasure and success. He has his moments, conducting more than one romantic affair, until that ill-advised pursuit ensnares him.

 

Product DetailsEllis, Brett Easton. American Psycho.

In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

Product DetailsEllison, Ralph. The Invisible Man.
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”, and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

Product DetailsFaulkner, William. As I Lay Dying.
“I set out deliberately to write a tour-de-force. Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first word I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall.” —William Faulkner onAs I Lay Dying
As I Lay Dying is Faulkner’s harrowing account of the Bundren family’s odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Narrated in turn  by each of the family members—including Addie herself—as well as others the novel ranges in mood, from dark comedy to the deepest pathos. Considered one of the most influential novels in American fiction in structure, style, and drama,As I Lay Dying is a true 20th-century classic.

Product DetailsFitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.
THE GREAT GATSBY is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion and obsession for the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan. Considered to be Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.

Product DetailsFollett, Ken. The Pillars of the Earth. 

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ken Follett comes this spellbinding epic set in twelfth-century England. The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the lives entwined in the building of the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known-and a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.

Also a miniseries.

 

Product Details

Frank, E.R. America: A Novel

For eighteen gritty years, a boy dodges the cracks in system in this “piercing, unforgettable novel” (Booklist) from E.R. Frank that Kirkus Reviews deemed “a work of sublime humanity.”

America is mistaken for black, Asian, Native American, even white. He doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere, and, parentless, he is shunted for eighteen years from a foster home, to the street, and ultimately to the brink of despair. Can one doctor pull him back and bring America somewhere new—somewhere with a future?

Product DetailsGolding, William. The Lord of the Flies.
Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature.
William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic.

Product DetailsGreen, John. Looking for Alaska.
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . .

Product DetailsGreene, Bette. Summer of My German Soldier.
The summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she’s Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi, but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own.
“An exceptionally fine novel.” —The New York Times
“Courageous and compelling!”  —Publishers Weekly

Product DetailsGrisham, John. A Time to Kill.

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town of Clanton in Ford County, Mississippi, reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle and takes justice into his own outraged hands.
For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life–and then his own.

Product DetailsGuterson, David. Snow Falling on Cedars.
San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies.  But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.  In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man’s guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries–memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo’s wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched.  Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense– one that leaves us shaken and changed.

Product DetailsHeller, Joseph. Catch-22.
Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

Product DetailsHemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms.
A FAREWELL TO ARMS is one of Hemingway’s earliest novels. With much of the material loosely based on his own personal experiences as an ambulance driver during World War I, the story captures in great detail the conflict in all of its horror and barbarism…..The plot centers around Frederick Henry, an American ambulance driver for the Italian army (a job Hemingway performed himself). …
The tragic irony of this novel is what makes it so memorable. Henry, as a wounded man who withdraws from the battle, as well as the whims of the Italian Army. However, he does so only to find that life is full of tragedy whether you’re in a war or not.

Product DetailsHemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls.
In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from “the good fight,”For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. …Hemingway surpasses his achievement in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms to create a work at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving, and wise.

Product DetailsHemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises.
The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

Product DetailsHinton, S.E. The Outsiders.

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. And when it comes to the Socs—a vicious gang of rich kids who enjoy beating up on “greasers” like him and his friends—he knows that he can count on them for trouble. But one night someone takes things too far, and Ponyboy’s world is turned upside down…

Product DetailsHinton, S.E. That Was Then, This Is Now.

Companion to The Outsiders, That Was Then, This is Now is S. E. Hinton’s moving portrait of the bond between best friends Bryon and Mark and the tensions that develop between them as they begin to grow up and grow apart. This latest edition features bonus material, and, like The Outsiders, will also maintain the same pagination as the previous edition, making it ideal for continued classroom use.

 

Product DetailsHosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner.T
he unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Product DetailsHurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God.
“A deeply soulful novel that comprehends love and cruelty, and separates the big people from the small of heart, without ever losing sympathy for those unfortunates who don’t know how to live properly.” —Zadie Smith
One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

Product DetailsHuxley, Aldous. Brave New World.
Aldous Huxley is the greatest 20th century writer in English.” —Chicago TribuneAldous Huxley is rightly considered a prophetic genius and one of the most important literary and philosophical voices of the 20th Century, and Brave New World is his masterpiece. From the author ofThe Doors of Perception, Island, and countless other works of fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, and poetry, comes this powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations. Brave New World remains absolutely relevant to this day as both a cautionary dystopian tale in the vein of the George Orwell classic 1984, and as thought-provoking, thoroughly satisfying entertainment.

Product DetailsIrving, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany.
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany. In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.

Product DetailsJoyce, James. Ulysses.
One of the most important works of the Modernist era, James Joyce’s “Ulysses” was originally published serially in the American journal “The Little Review” from March 1918 to December 1920. Subsequently published as a book in 1922, “Ulysses” chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. While the novel appears largely unstructured at first glance it is in fact very closely paralleled to Homer’s “Odyssey”, containing eighteen episodes that correspond to various parts of Homer’s work. Errors within the text have resulted in multiple publications of revised editions over the course of the 20th-century. These efforts at revision however are not universally accepted as beneficial with some critics pointing to the original 1922 edition, from which this edition is drawn, as the most accurate of all editions. Filled with experimental forms of prose, stream of consciousness, puns, parodies, and allusions that Joyce himself hoped would “keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant,” this expansive work is considered one of the great works of English literature and a must read for fans of the Modernist genre.

Product DetailsKesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
In this classic novel, Ken Kesey’s hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women, and openly defies the rules at every turn. But this defiance, which starts as a sport, soon develops into a grim struggle, an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Nurse Ratched, backed by the full power of authority, and McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. What happens when Nurse Ratched uses her ultimate weapon against McMurphy provides the story’s shocking climax.

Product DetailsKeyes, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon. 

As a 1959 novella it won a Hugo Award; the 1966 novel-length expansion won a Nebula. The Oscar-winning movie adaptation Charly (1968) also spawned a 1980 Broadway musical.
Flowers for Algernon is a timeless tear-jerker with a terrific emotional impact. –David Langford
“A tale that is convincing, suspenseful and touching.”–The New York Times
“An ingeniously touching story . . . Moving . . . Intensely real.”–The Baltimore Sun

Product DetailsKnowles, John. A Separate Peace.
An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to World War II.
Set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

Product DetailsLawrence, D.H. Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence’s last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped in a sterile marriage and her growing love for the robust gamekeeper of her husband’s estate. The most controversial of Lawrence’s books, Lady Chatterley’s Lover joyously affirms the author’s vision of individual regeneration through sexual love. The book’s power, complexity, and psychological intricacy make this a completely original work—a triumph of passion, an erotic celebration of life.

Product DetailsLawrence, D.H. Sons and Lovers.

First published in 1913, this provocative semi-autobiographical novel reflects the struggles of Paul Morel, an artist who cannot reciprocate love for other women while under the influence of his stifling mother. Unconsciously taught to despise his father and eschew other women, Paul comes even further under his mother’s psychological grasp after the death of his older brother. When he eventually does fall in love, the results of confused affection and desire are painful for all concerned. While “Sons and Lovers” scandalized its original English readers for its oedipal implications and social criticism, it remains a powerful story of terrifying inner and outer conflict and intense sensuality.

Product DetailsLawrence, D.H. Women in Love.
Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen sat one morning in the window-bay of their father’s house in Beldover, working and talking. Ursula was stitching a piece of brightly-coloured embroidery, and Gudrun was drawing upon a board which she held on her knee. They were mostly silent, talking as their thoughts strayed through their minds. ‘Ursula,’ said Gudrun, ‘don’t you REALLY WANT to get married?’ Ursula laid her embroidery in her lap and looked up. Her face was calm and considerate. ‘I don’t know,’ she replied. ‘It depends how you mean.’ Gudrun was slightly taken aback. She watched her sister for some moments. ‘Well,’ she said, ironically, ‘it usually means one thing! But don’t you think anyhow, you’d be—’ she darkened slightly—’in a better position than you are in now.’ A shadow came over Ursula’s face. ‘I might,’ she said. ‘But I’m not sure.’

Product DetailsLee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird.
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal.

Product DetailsLester, Julius. When Dad Killed Mom.

Jenna and Jeremy knew their parents’ marriage was in trouble. But no one could have predicted what would come next. Now with Mom dead and Dad in jail, Jenna and Jeremy must re-create a family of their own. But each guards a secret that could send their fragile new lives into a tailspin.
Newbery Honor winner Julius Lester paints a dramatic portrait of a family forced to confront the unimaginable.

 

Product DetailsLondon, Jack. The Call of the Wild.
The Call of the Wild is a novel by Jack London published in 1903. The story is set in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush—a period when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The novel’s central character is a dog named Buck, a domesticated dog living at a ranch in the Santa Clara valley of California as the story opens. Stolen from his home and sold into the brutal existence of an Alaskan sled dog, he reverts to atavistic traits. Buck is forced to adjust to, and survive, cruel treatments and fight to dominate other dogs in a harsh climate. Eventually he sheds the veneer of civilization, relying on primordial instincts and lessons he learns, to emerge as a leader in the wild. London lived for most of a year in the Yukon collecting material for the book. The story was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in the summer of 1903; a month later it was released in book form.

Product DetailsLowry, Lois. The Giver. 

The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

 

Product DetailsMitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind.
Since its original publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind—winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the bestselling novels of all time—has been heralded by readers everywhere as The Great American Novel. …Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction. This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life.

 

Product DetailsMorrison, Toni. Beloved.

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.

Product DetailsMorrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. 

Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.

Product DetailsMorrison, Toni. Song of Solomon.

Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.

Product DetailsMyers, Walter Dean. Fallen Angels. 

A coming-of-age tale for young adults set in the trenches of the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, this is the story of Perry, a Harlem teenager who volunteers for the service when his dream of attending college falls through. Sent to the front lines, Perry and his platoon come face-to-face with the Vietcong and the real horror of warfare. But violence and death aren’t the only hardships. As Perry struggles to find virtue in himself and his comrades, he questions why black troops are given the most dangerous assignments, and why the U.S. is even there at all.

Product DetailsNabokov, Vladimir. Lolita.

Awe and exhiliration–along with heartbreak and mordant wit–abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love–love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

 

Product DetailsNix, Garth. Shade’s Children.
In a futuristic urban wasteland, evil Overlords have decreed that no human shall live a day past their fourteenth birthday. On that Sad Birthday, the children of the Dorms are taken to the Meat Factory, where they will be made into creatures whose sole purpose is to kill. The mysterious Shade—once a man, but now more like the machines he fights—recruits the few teenagers who escape into a secret resistance force. With luck, cunning, and skill, four of Shade’s children come closer than any to discovering the source of the Overlords’ power—and the key to their downfall. But the closer they get, the more ruthless Shade seems to become. .

Product DetailsO’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. 

A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

 

 

Product DetailsOrwell, George. Animal Farm.

George Orwell’s classic satire of the Russian Revolution is an intimate part of our contemporary culture. It is the account of the bold struggle, initiated by the animals, that transforms Mr. Jones’s Manor Farm into Animal Farm–a wholly democratic society built on the credo that All Animals Are Created Equal. Out of their cleverness, the pigs Napoleon, Squealer, and Snowball emerge as leaders of the new community in a subtle evolution that proves disastrous. The climax is the brutal betrayal of the faithful horse Boxer, when totalitarian rule is reestablished with the bloodstained postscript to the founding slogan: But some Animals Are More Equal Than Others. . . .

Product DetailsOrwell, George. 1984.

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever.1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time… This is a classic for all to pay closer attention to and to and to be aware of the rulers and the tactics they employ.

Product DetailsPaterson, Katherine. Bridge to Terabithia.
Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.In addition to being a Newbery Medal winner, Bridge to Terabithia was also named an ALA Notable Children’s Book and has become a touchstone of children’s literature, as have many of Katherine Paterson’s other novels….

Product DetailsPaterson, Katherine. The Great Gilly Hopkins.
Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she’s disliked them all. She has a reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable, and that’s the way she likes it. So when she’s sent to live with the Trotters—by far the strangest family yet—she knows it’s only a temporary problem.
Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work and get out of there fast. She’s determined to no longer be a foster kid. Before long she’s devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t work out quite as she hoped it would…

Product DetailsPicoult, Jodi. My Sister’s Keeper.
Jodi Picoult tells the story of a girl who decides to sue her parents for the rights to her own body in thisNew York Times bestseller that tackles a controversial subject with grace and explores what it means to be a good person.
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate—a life and a role that she has never challenged…until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is.

Product DetailsRowling, J.D. The Harry Potter Series

Product DetailsSalinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye.
The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all.

Product DetailsSebold, Alice. Lovely Bones.
When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn’t happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, heaven, and living.

Product DetailsSilverstein, Shel. A Light in the Attic. 

Here in the attic of Shel Silverstein you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo With an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with the Broiled Face, and find out what happens when someone steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, a mountain snores, and they’ve put a brassiere on the camel.

 

 

Product DetailsSinclair, Upton. The Jungle.
The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair (1878–1968). Sinclair wrote the novel to portray the lives of immigrants in the United States in Chicago and similar industrialized cities. Many readers were most concerned with his exposure of health violations and unsanitary practices in the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century, based on an investigation he did for a socialist newspaper. The book depicts working class poverty, the lack of social supports, harsh and unpleasant living and working conditions, and a hopelessness among many workers. These elements are contrasted with the deeply rooted corruption of people in power. A review by the writer Jack London called it, “the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of wage slavery.”

Product DetailsSteinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized—and sometimes outraged—millions of readers.
First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.

Product DetailsSteinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men.
Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men remains one of America’s most widely read and taught novels. An unlikely pair, George and Lennie, two migrant workers in California during the Great Depression, grasp for their American Dream. Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

Product DetailsStyron, William. Sophie’s Choice: A Novel.

In this extraordinary novel, Stingo, an inexperienced twenty-two year old Southerner, takes us back to the summer of 1947 and a boarding house in a leafy Brooklyn suburb. There he meets Nathan, a fiery Jewish intellectual; and Sophie, a beautiful and fragile Polish Catholic. Stingo is drawn into the heart of their passionate and destructive relationship as witness, confidant and supplicant. Ultimately, he arrives at the dark core of Sophie’s past: her memories of pre-war Poland, the concentration camp and – the essence of her terrible secret – her choice.


Product DetailsTaylor, Mildred. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a beautifully told tale spoken with the fine voice of its young narrator, Cassie Logan. It is the story of the Logan family and their struggle to maintain both their small piece of land and their dignity in one tumultuous year, two things not permitted a black family in Mississippi in the early decaces of this century. The author brilliantly captures the times of which she writes but, even more important, captures the people she writes about.

 

Product DetailsTolkien, J.R.R. Lord of the Rings. 

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.
From Sauron’s fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion

Product DetailsTwain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Ernest Hemingway declared that “all modern American literature stems from this one book,” while T. S. Eliot called Huck “one of the permanent symbolic figures of fiction, not unworthy to take a place with Ulysses, Faust, Don Quixote, Don Juan, Hamlet.”
The novel’s preeminence derives from its wonderfully imaginative re-creation of boyhood adventures along the Mississippi River, its inspired characterization, the author’s remarkable ear for dialogue, and the book’s understated development of serious underlying themes: “natural” man versus “civilized” society, the evils of slavery, the innate value and dignity of human beings, and other topics. Most of all, Huckleberry Finn is a wonderful story, filled with high adventure and unforgettable characters.

Product DetailsTwain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
The classic, in all its glory – though what many forget is how well this tale of American boyhood holds up even after nearly 150 years. Tom Sawyer, his best friend Huck Finn, his would-be girlfriend Becky Thatcher, and his aunt Polly teach and learn about life, death, race and painting fences in a “typical” 19th century Midwestern town that bears a striking resemblance to Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. On one level, this is the prototypical tale of one boy’s innocence and how he lost it, but it’s also a profound evocation of the national character that Twain, an odd combination of independent thinker and moralist, clearly thought needed some analyzing.

Product DetailsUpdike, John. Rabbit, Run. 

Rabbit, Run is the book that established John Updike as one of the major American novelists of his—or any other—generation. Its hero is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a onetime high-school basketball star who on an impulse deserts his wife and son. He is twenty-six years old, a man-child caught in a struggle between instinct and thought, self and society, sexual gratification and family duty—even, in a sense, human hard-heartedness and divine Grace. Though his flight from home traces a zigzag of evasion, he holds to the faith that he is on the right path, an invisible line toward his own salvation as straight as a ruler’s edge.

Product DetailsVonnegut, Kurt. Cat’s Cradle.

Cat’s Cradle is Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet’s ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist, a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer, and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny. A book that left an indelible mark on an entire generation of readers, Cat’s Cradle is one of the twentieth century’s most important works—and Vonnegut at his very best.

 

Product DetailsVonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse Five. 

Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

Modern Library 100 Best Novels

 

Product DetailsWalker, Alice. The Color Purple.
The Color Purple is a novel that explores the transition of Celie, fourteen years old when the book opens, and of her life. Alice Walker portrays the rawness of Celie’s oppressed, abusive life. The novel explores many themes including empowerment of women, struggle with sexuality, and the power of family and sisterhood. The very first page of the book begins with Celie’s letter to God. She talks about her confusion with her sexual abuse by her father and her confusion with her marriage to an abusive stranger. After marrying this stranger, whom she simply calls Mr.___, is when she also meets Shug, a woman who refuses to let anything bring her down. Shug allows Celie to realize her full potential …

Product DetailsWalls, Jeanette. The Glass Castle.
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. …

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com

 

Product DetailsWarren, Robert Penn. All the King’s Men.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this classic book is generally regarded as the finest novel ever written on American politics. It describes the career of Willie Stark, a back-country lawyer whose idealism is overcome by his lust for power. This landmark book is a loosely fictionalized account of Governor Huey Long of Louisiana, one of the nation’s most astounding politicians. All the King’s Men tells the story of Willie Stark, a southern-fried politician who builds support by appealing to the common man and playing dirty politics with the best of the back-room deal-makers. Though Stark quickly sheds his idealism, his right-hand man, Jack Burden — who narrates the story — retains it and proves to be a thorn in the new governor’s side. Stark becomes a successful leader, but at a very high price, one that eventually costs him his life. The award-winning book is a play of politics, society and personal affairs, all wrapped in the cloak of history.

Product DetailsWaugh, Evelyn. Brideshead Revisited
The wellsprings of desire and the impediments to love come brilliantly into focus in Evelyn Waugh’s masterpiece-a novel that immerses us in the glittering and seductive world of English aristocracy in the waning days of the empire.

Through the story of Charles Ryder’s entanglement with the Flytes, a great Catholic family, Evelyn Waugh charts the passing of the privileged world he knew in his own youth and vividly recalls the sensuous pleasures denied him by wartime austerities. At once romantic, sensuous, comic, and somber, Brideshead Revisited transcends Waugh’s early satiric explorations and reveals him to be an elegiac, lyrical novelist of the utmost feeling and lucidity.

Product DetailsWright, Richard. Black Boy.

Richard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi amid poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those around him; at six he was a “drunkard,” hanging about in taverns. Surly, brutal, cold, suspicious, and self-pitying, he was surrounded on one side by whites who were either indifferent to him, pitying, or cruel, and on the other by blacks who resented anyone trying to rise above the common lot.Black Boy is Richard Wright’s powerful account of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It is at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering.

Product DetailsWright, Richard. Native Son. 

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

Pretending to Write at Barnes and Noble – Stephen King Says If You Are Serious about Writing, Read More and Write More

I know that you have seen them. They are the people who load all of their writing gadgets and gear into their SUV’s and spread it across one or two of the few available tables at Barnes and Noble. They arm themselves with a Grande Espresso, and then, they begin yet another day of pretending to write at Barnes and Noble.

Perhaps I am being too harsh, but when I see folks who are trying very hard to play one part or another, I remember the Drugstore Hunters in Mississippi. Until I was 53-years-old, I lived in the Deep South, and hunting is still a great sport in the South. The fall is the time for dove hunting, and people hunt ducks during the winter.  My ex-husband had four brothers and probably had at least ten male cousins. That family was serious about hunting, and they always came home from their hunting trips laughing about this “Drugstore Hunter” or that. A Drugstore Hunter is someone who buys all of the most expensive hunting gadgets and dresses himself beautifully for his hunts, but he is not actually a hunter. In fact, many of the drugstore hunters may never leave the lodge or the hunting camp. They may spend the entire hunt drinking and partying. When I see the people making a great show of writing at Barnes and Noble, I always chuckle and whisper under my breath: “Drugstore Writers.” For many years, I was probably a Drugstore Writer–someone who likes to pretend to write–but now, I am buckling down and actually moving forward a bit. My bedroom is on the top floor of my house, and when I write, I prop myself up on my bed, put my laptop on my lap, and I just write.

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My room isn’t usually this neat, however. In fact, I moved my bed toward the center of the room and I have a bookshelf loaded with books that I am currently reading. That bookshelf is next to my bed.

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I have decided to heed Stephen King’s advice:

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“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, p. 145.

“One learns most clearly what not to do by reading bad prose….
“Good writing, on the other hand, teaches the learning writer about style, graceful narration, plot development, the creations of believable characters, and truth-telling.  A novel like The Grapes of Wrath may fill a new writer with feelings of despair and good old-fashioned jealousy–‘I’ll never be able to write anything that good, not is I live to be a thousand’–but such feelings can also serve as a spur, goading the writer to work harder and aim higher. Being swept away by a combination of great story and great writing–of being flattened, in fact–is part of every writer’s necessary formation. You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you. [p. 146]

“So we read to experience the mediocre and the outright rotten; such experience helps us to recognize those things when they begin to creep into our own work, and to steer clear of them. We also read to measure ourselves against the good and the great, to get a sense of all that can be done. And we read in  order to experience different styles.” King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, pgs. 146-47.

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“It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true. If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but ‘didn’t have time to read,’ I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject?

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King

“Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life, I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there all sorts of opportunities to dip it. The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows. Waiting rooms were made for books–of course! But so are theater lobbies before the show, long and boring checkout lines, and everyone’s [p. 147] the john. You can even read while you’re driving, thanks to the audiobook revolution.

. . .

“Where else can you read? There’s always the treadmill….

“Once weaned from the ephemeral craving for TV, most people will find they enjoy the time they spend reading. I’d like to suggest that turning off that endlessly quacking box is apt to improve the quality of your life as well as the quality of your writing.” King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, pgs. 148-49.

“…when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy. Perhaps even ecstatic. That goes for reading and writing as well as for playing a musical instrument, hitting a baseball, or running the four-forty.

“The sort of strenuous reading and writing program I advocate–four to six hours a day, every day–will not seem strenuous if you really enjoy doing these things and have an aptitude for them….” Stephen King

“the real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing….Constant reading will pull you  into a place (a mind-set, if you like the phrase) where you can write eagerly and without self-consciousness. It also offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done and what hasn’t, what is trite and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying (or dead) on the page. The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.” King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, p. 150.

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“…’read a lot, write a lot’ is the Great Commandment….” King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, p. 151.

“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book….” King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, p. 155.

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“Like you bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream. Your schedule–in at about the same time every day…exists in order to habituate yourself, to make yourself ready to dream….In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives….

“But you need the room, you need the door, and you need the determination to shut the door. You need a concrete goal, as well.

. . .

“Don’t wait for the muse.” – Stephen King

 

. . .

“This isn’t the Ouija board or the spirit-world we’re talking about here, just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ’til noon or seven ’til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he’ll start showing up, chomping his cigar and making his magic.”  King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, pgs. 156-57.

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Allow me to return to my initial point: if we are serious about writing, we won’t be flittering our days away, making a huge display of our efforts at Bares and Noble or at Starbucks or at any other public place. When I am at Barnes and Noble, I am looking at books or at all of the Drugstore Writers. I am not there to write. When I want to write, I prop up in my bed, and I turn the rest of the world off. Then, I begin to write. I don’t wait for my muse to beat me to my writing spot. I simply show up and write. Try it. It works.

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Yesterday, on jackikellum.com, I posted a great reading list for writers who want to write about their own lives, and honestly, all of us write about our own lives–in one way or another. Mary Karr Reading List Here

©Jacki Kellum September 25, 2016

Pretend

Too Many Books – Too Little Time – A List of Memoir Books to Read

Dillard, Annie. An American Childhood. This morning, I snapped the above photo of the bookshelf that is next to my bed. Believe it or not, I am trying to read all of these books at once. I know that this is a recipe for craziness, but I am 65 years behind in my reading, and I feel panicky about my need to catch up.

In undergraduate school and in my first master’s program, I studied writing, but I also studied painting at the same time. The job gods found me several positions teaching art and then, I painted for a while. During the same time, I was marrying and divorcing and raising three children. There simply wasn’t enough time for me to do anything at all with my writing, and I didn’t want to be reminded that I wasn’t writing. Last year, I began blogging, and now, I want to do some writing that is more serious. I regret all of those years that I didn’t write and more than that, I regret the years that I didn’t read either. On some days, I am in panic-button mode, and I flit from book to book, not really absorbing much at all. On saner days, I slow down and accept the reality that tackling my reading list is like approaching any other gargantuan task–it can only be accomplished one bite at a time.

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At the back of her book The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr provides a list of books that she believes every memoir writer should read.  The following books are in my local library’s collection. Most of these books came from Mary Karr’s list [Note-All of the images and reviews came from Amazon, where the books can be published]:
Product DetailsAllende, Isabel. The Sum of Our Days

In The Sum of Our Days, internationally acclaimed author Isabel Allende reconstructs the painful reality of her own life in the wake of the tragic death of her daughter, Paula. Narrated with warmth, humor, exceptional candor, and wisdom, this remarkable memoir is as exuberant and full of life as its creator. Allende bares her soul as she shares her thoughts on love, marriage, motherhood, spirituality and religion, infidelity, addiction, and memory—and recounts stories of the wildly eccentric, strong-minded, and eclectic tribe she gathers around her and lovingly embraces as a new kind of family.

 

Product DetailsAngelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself.I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.
 
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.”—James Baldwin

Product DetailsAugustine, Saint, Confessions

The son of a pagan father and a Christian mother, Saint Augustine spent his early years torn between conflicting faiths and world views. His Confessions, written when he was in his forties, recount how, slowly and painfully, he came to turn away from his youthful ideas and licentious lifestyle, to become instead a staunch advocate of Christianity and one of its most influential thinkers. A remarkably honest and revealing spiritual autobiography, the Confessions also address fundamental issues of Christian doctrine, and many of the prayers and meditations it includes are still an integral part of the practice of Christianity today.

Product DetailsBeah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone.

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.

What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.

Product DetailsBourdain, Anthony. Kitchen Confidential.
A deliciously funny, delectably shocking banquet of wild-but-true tales of life in the culinary trade from Chef Anthony Bourdain, laying out his more than a quarter-century of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine….
Most diners believe that their sublime sliver of seared foie gras, topped with an ethereal buckwheat blini and a drizzle of piquant huckleberry sauce, was created by a culinary artist of the highest order, a sensitive, highly refined executive chef. The truth is more brutal. More likely, writes Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential, that elegant three-star concoction is the collaborative effort of a team of “wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts, and psychopaths,”
Product DetailsCarr, David. The Night of the Gun.

From David Carr (1956–2015), the “undeniably brilliant and dogged journalist” (Entertainment Weekly) and author of the instant New York Times bestseller that theChicago Sun-Times called “a compelling tale of drug abuse, despair, and, finally, hope.”

Do we remember only the stories we can live with? The ones that make us look good in the rearview mirror? In The Night of the Gun, David Carr redefines memoir with the revelatory story of his years as an addict and chronicles his journey from crack-house regular to regular columnist for The New York Times.

Product DetailsCarroll, James. Practicing Catholic.
James Carroll turns to the notion of practice—both as a way to learn and a means of improvement—as a lens for this thoughtful and frank look at what it means to be Catholic. He acknowledges the slow and steady transformation of the Church from its darker, medieval roots to a more pluralist and inclusive institution, charting along the way stories of powerful Catholic leaders (Pope John XXIII, Thomas Merton, John F. Kennedy) and historical milestones like Vatican II. These individuals and events represent progress for Carroll, a former priest, and as he considers the new meaning of belief in a world that is increasingly as secular as it is fundamentalist, he shows why the world needs a Church that is committed to faith and renewal.
Product DetailsDidion, Joan. The Year of Magical Thinking.
From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage–and a life, in good times and bad–that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.
The author of Slouching Towards Bethlehem and 11 other works chronicles the year following the death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne….
Product DetailsDillard, Annie. An American Childhood.
A book that instantly captured the hearts of readers across the country, An American Childhood is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Dillard’s poignant, vivid memoir of growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1950s.
Annie Dillard remembers. She remembers the exhilaration of whipping a snowball at a car and having it hit straight on. She remembers playing with the skin on her mother’s knuckles, which “didn’t snap back; it lay dead across her knuckle in a yellowish ridge.” She remembers the compulsion to spend a whole afternoon (or many whole afternoons) endlessly pitching a ball at a target. In this intoxicating account of her childhood, Dillard climbs back inside her 5-, 10-, and 15-year-old selves with apparent effortlessness. The voracious young Dillard embraces headlong one fascination after another–from drawing to rocks and bugs to the French symbolists. “Everywhere, things snagged me,” she writes. “The visible world turned me curious to books; the books propelled me reeling back to the world.”
Product DetailsDouglass, Fredereck. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. 
Former slave, impassioned abolitionist, brilliant writer, newspaper editor and eloquent orator whose speeches fired the abolitionist cause, Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) led an astounding life. Physical abuse, deprivation and tragedy plagued his early years, yet through sheer force of character he was able to overcome these obstacles to become a leading spokesman for his people.
In this, the first and most frequently read of his three autobiographies, Douglass provides graphic descriptions of his childhood and horrifying experiences as a slave as well as a harrowing record of his dramatic escape to the North and eventual freedom.
Published in 1845 to quell doubts about his origins — since few slaves of that period could write — theNarrative is admired today for its extraordinary passion, sensitive and vivid descriptions and storytelling power.
Product DetailsDu Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk.
The Souls of Black Folk is a classic work of American literature by W. E. B. Du Bois. It is a seminal work in the history of sociology, and a cornerstone of African-American literary history. To develop this groundbreaking work, Du Bois drew from his own experiences as an African-American in the American society. Outside of its notable relevance in African-American history, The Souls of Black Folk also holds an important place in social science as one of the early works in the field of sociology.

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) is the greatest of African American intellectuals–a sociologist, historian, novelist, and activist whose astounding career spanned the nation’s history from Reconstruction to the civil rights movement. Born in Massachusetts and educated at Fisk, Harvard, and the University of Berlin, Du Bois penned his epochal masterpiece, The Souls of Black Folk, in 1903. It remains his most studied and popular work; its insights into Negro life at the turn of the 20th century still ring true.

Product DetailsDubus, Andre, III. Townie.
After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their overworked mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and everyday violence. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash between town and gown, between the hard drinking, drugging, and fighting of “townies” and the ambitions of students debating books and ideas, couldn’t have been more stark. In this unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Dubus shows us how he escaped the cycle of violence and found empathy in channeling the stories of others―bridging, in the process, the rift between his father and himself.
Product Details
Dunham, Lena. Not That Kind of Girl.

Exuberant, moving, and keenly observed, Not That Kind of Girl is a series of dispatches from the frontlines of the struggle that is growing up. “I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you,” Dunham writes. “But if I can take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine will have been worthwhile.”

Praise for Not That Kind of Girl

Product Details Eggers, Dave. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. 
The literary sensation of the year, a book that redefines both family and narrative for the twenty-first century. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is the moving memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother. Here is an exhilarating debut that manages to be simultaneously hilarious and wildly inventive as well as a deeply heartfelt story of the love that holds a family together.

Literary self-consciousness and technical invention mix unexpectedly in this engaging memoir by Eggers, editor of the literary magazine McSweeney’s and the creator of a satiric ‘zine called Might, who subverts the conventions of the memoir by questioning his memory, motivations and interpretations so thoroughly that the form itself becomes comic.

Product DetailsFey, Tina. Bossypants. 
Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream….
At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty onSaturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.
Product DetailsGilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Pray, Love.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love touched the world and changed countless lives, inspiring and empowering millions of readers to search for their own best selves. Now, this beloved and iconic book returns in a beautiful 10th anniversary edition, complete with an updated introduction from the author, to launch a whole new generation of fans.

In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

Product DetailsGrealy, Lucy. Autobiography of a Face. 
This powerful memoir is about the premium we put on beauty and on a woman’s face in particular. It took Lucy Grealy twenty years of living with a distorted self-image and more than thirty reconstructive procedures before she could come to terms with her appearance after childhood cancer and surgery that left her jaw disfigured. As a young girl, she absorbed the searing pain of peer rejection and the paralyzing fear of never being loved.
“This is a young woman’s first book, the story of her own life, and both book and life are unforgettable.” —New York Times

“Engaging and engrossing, a story of grace as well as cruelty, and a demonstration of [Grealy’s] own wit and style and class.”—Washington Post Book World

Product DetailsHaley, Malcolm and Malcolm X. The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
In the searing pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement to veteran writer and journalist Alex Haley . In a unique collaboration, Haley worked with Malcolm X for nearly two years, interviewing, listening to, and understanding the most controversial leader of his time.

As voices of protest and change rose above the din of history and false promises, one voice sounded more urgently, more passionately, than the rest. Malcolm X—once called the most dangerous man in America—challenged the world to listen and learn the truth as he experienced it.

Product DetailsHamilton, Gabrielle. Blood, Bones & Butter. 

Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.

Product DetailsHemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast. 
Ernest Hemingway’s classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, now available in a restored edition, includes the original manuscript along with insightful recollections and unfinished sketches.
In the preface to A Moveable Feast, Hemingway remarks casually that “if the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction”–and, indeed, fact or fiction, it doesn’t matter, for his slim memoir of Paris in the 1920s is as enchanting as anything made up and has become the stuff of legend. Paris in the ’20s! Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, lived happily on $5 a day and still had money for drinks at the Closerie des Lilas, skiing in the Alps, and fishing trips to Spain. On every corner and at every café table, there were the most extraordinary people living wonderful lives and telling fantastic stories. Gertrude Stein invited Hemingway to come every afternoon and sip “fragrant, colorless alcohols” and chat admid her great pictures. He taught Ezra Pound how to box, gossiped with James Joyce, caroused with the fatally insecure Scott Fitzgerald (the acid portraits of him and his wife, Zelda, are notorious). Meanwhile, Hemingway invented a new way of writing based on this simple premise: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”Product DetailsJacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. 
The true story of an individual’s struggle for self-identity, self-preservation, and freedom, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl remains among the few extant slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiographical account chronicles the remarkable odyssey of Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897) whose dauntless spirit and faith carried her from a life of servitude and degradation in North Carolina to liberty and reunion with her children in the North.
Written and published in 1861 after Jacobs’ harrowing escape from a vile and predatory master, the memoir delivers a powerful and unflinching portrayal of the abuses and hypocrisy of the master-slave relationship. Jacobs writes frankly of the horrors she suffered as a slave, her eventual escape after several unsuccessful attempts, and her seven years in self-imposed exile, hiding in a coffin-like “garret” attached to her grandmother’s porch.
A rare firsthand account of a courageous woman’s determination and endurance, this inspirational story also represents a valuable historical record of the continuing battle for freedom and the preservation of family.

Product DetailsKarr, Mary. The Liars Club.

When it was published in 1995, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club took the world by storm and raised the art of the memoir to an entirely new level, as well as bringing about a dramatic revival of the form. Karr’s comic childhood in an east Texas oil town brings us characters as darkly hilarious as any of J. D. Salinger’s—a hard-drinking daddy, a sister who can talk down the sheriff at twelve, and an oft-married mother whose accumulated secrets threaten to destroy them all. Now with a new introduction that discusses her memoir’s impact on her family, this unsentimental and profoundly moving account of an apocalyptic childhood is as “funny, lively, and un-put-downable” (USA Today) today as it ever was
Product DetailsKarr, Mary. Cherry. 
From Mary Karr comes this gorgeously written, often hilarious story of her tumultuous teens and sexual coming-of-age. Picking up where the bestselling The Liars’ Club left off, Karr dashes down the trail of her teen years with customary sass, only to run up against the paralyzing self-doubt of a girl in bloom. Fleeing the thrills and terrors of adolescence, she clashes against authority in all its forms and hooks up with an unforgettable band of heads and bona-fide geniuses. Parts of Cherry will leave you gasping with laughter. Karr assembles a self from the smokiest beginnings, delivering a long-awaited sequel that is both “bawdy and wise” (San Francisco Chronicle)
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Product DetailsKarr, Mary. Lit. 
Lit follows the self-professed blackbelt sinner’s descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness–and to her astonishing resurrection. Karr’s longing for a solid family seems secure when her marriage to a handsome, Shakespeare-quoting blueblood poet produces a son they adore. But she can’t outrun her apocalyptic past. She drinks herself into the same numbness that nearly devoured her charismatic but troubled mother, reaching the brink of suicide. A hair-raising stint in ‘The Mental Marriott,’ with an oddball tribe of gurus and saviors, awakens her to the possibility of joy and leads her to an unlikely faith. Not since Saint Augustine cried, ‘Give me chastity, Lord-but not yet!’ has a conversion story rung with such dark hilarity. Lit is about getting drunk and getting sober, becoming a mother by letting go of a mother, learning to write by learning to live. Written with Karr’s relentless honesty, unflinching self-scrutiny, and irreverent, lacerating humor, it is a truly electrifying story of how to grow up–as only Mary Karr can tell it.
Product DetailsKing, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
….the author takes time to tell us the highlights of his life that influenced him into the writer he became. Heartfelt memories of his mother, brother, wife, and children were a joy to read, with me growing teary-eyed on an occasion or two. I was delighted to see small things in his childhood that reminded me of things to come in later books (like IT.) His mothers support of him from the beginning was, I think, a crucial part of his development. One of the more emotional areas of the books, it’s good to have someone fighting in your corner and keeping your hopes up. After his mother, there was his wife, all playing their big parts in who he became.

[In the second part of the book, King discusses the craft of writing.]

 Product DetailsKrakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air.
A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that “suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down.” He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more–including Krakauer’s–in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer’s epic account of the May 1996 disaster.
By writing Into Thin Air, Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons and lay to rest some of the painful questions that still surround the event.
Product DetailsLeast Heat-Moon, William. Blue Highways: A Journey into America.
Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation’s backroads. William Least Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about “those little towns that get on the map-if they get on at all-only because some cartographer has a blank space to fill: Remote, Oregon; Simplicity, Virginia; New Freedom, Pennsylvania; New Hope, Tennessee; Why, Arizona; Whynot, Mississippi.” His adventures, his discoveries, and his recollections of the extraordinary people he encountered along the way amount to a revelation of the true American experience.
Product DetailsMacdonald, Helen. H Is for Hawk

The instant New York Times bestseller and award-winning sensation, Helen Macdonald’s story of adopting and raising one of nature’s most vicious predators has soared into the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Fierce and feral, her goshawk Mabel’s temperament mirrors Helen’s own state of grief after her father’s death, and together raptor and human “discover the pain and beauty of being alive” (People). H Is for Hawk is a genre-defying debut from one of our most unique and transcendent voices. “Breathtaking . . . Helen Macdonald renders an indelible impression of a raptor’s fierce essence—and her own—with words that mimic feathers, so impossibly pretty we don’t notice their astonishing engineering.” —Vicki Constantine Croke, New York Times Book Review

 

Product DetailsMandela, Nelson. Conversations with Myself.
Nelson Mandela is one of the most inspiring and iconic figures of our age. Now, after a lifetime of recording thoughts and events, hardships and victories, he has opened his personal archive, which offers unprecedented insight into his remarkable autobiography.

From letters written in the darkest hours of his twenty-seven years of imprisonment to the draft of an unfinished sequel to Long Walk to Freedom, Conversations with Myself gives readers access to the private man behind the public figure. Here he is making notes and even doodling during meetings, or transcribing troubled dreams on the desk calendar in his prison cell on Robben Island; writing journals while on the run during the anti-apartheid struggle in the early 1960s, and conversing with friends in almost seventy hours of recorded conversations. Here he is neither icon nor saint.

Product DetailsMartin, Steve. Born Standing Up.

 The riveting, mega-bestselling, beloved and highly acclaimed memoir of a man, a vocation, and an era named one of the ten best nonfiction titles of 2007 by Time and Entertainment Weekly.

In the mid-seventies, Steve Martin exploded onto the comedy scene. By 1978 he was the biggest concert draw in the history of stand-up. In 1981 he quit forever. This book is, in his own words, the story of “why I did stand-up and why I walked away.”

Emmy and Grammy Award–winner, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestsellers Shopgirl andThe Pleasure of My Company, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Martin has always been a writer. His memoir of his years in stand-up is candid, spectacularly amusing, and beautifully written.

Product DetailsMayle, Peter. A Year in Provence.
In this witty and warm-hearted account, Peter Mayle tells what it is like to realize a long-cherished dream and actually move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. He endures January’s frosty mistral as it comes howling down the Rhône Valley, discovers the secrets of goat racing through the middle of town, and delights in the glorious regional cuisine. A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.
Product DetailsMcBride, James. The Color of Water.

Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared “light-skinned” woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother’s past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut, The Color Of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother.The son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white, James McBride grew up in “orchestrated chaos” with his eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. “Mommy,” a fiercely protective woman with “dark eyes full of pep and fire,” herded her brood to Manhattan’s free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion—and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain.

Product DetailsMcCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes. 

A Pulitzer Prize–winning, #1 New York Times bestseller, Angela’s Ashes is Frank McCourt’s masterful memoir of his childhood in Ireland.

“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”

So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy—exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling—does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story.

Product DetailsMoody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi.
Written without a trace of sentimentality or apology, this is an unforgettable personal story—the truth as a remarkable young woman named Anne Moody lived it. To read her book is to know what it is to have grown up black in Mississippi in the forties an fifties—and to have survived with pride and courage intact.
In this now classic autobiography, she details the sights, smells, and suffering of growing up in a racist society and candidily reveals the soul of a black girl who had the courage to challenge it. The result is a touchstone work: an accurate, authoritative portrait of black family life in the rural South and a moving account of a woman’s indomitable heart.

Product DetailsNafisi, Azar. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books.Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Azar Nafisi, a bold and inspired teacher, secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; some had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they removed their veils and began to speak more freely–their stories intertwining with the novels they were reading by Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, as fundamentalists seized hold of the universities and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the women in Nafisi’s living room spoke not only of the books they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments.

Product DetailsOates, Joyce Carol. A Widow’s Story.
Unlike anything Joyce Carol Oates has written before, A Widow’s Story is the universally acclaimed author’s poignant, intimate memoir about the unexpected death of Raymond Smith, her husband of forty-six years, and its wrenching, surprising aftermath. A recent recipient of National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, Oates, whose novels (Blonde, The Gravedigger’s Daughter,Little Bird of Heaven, etc.) rank among the very finest in contemporary American fiction, offers an achingly personal story of love and loss. A Widow’s Story is a literary memoir on a par with The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and Calvin Trillin’s About Alice.

Product DetailsOlsen, Tillie. Silences.
First published in 1978, Silences single-handedly revolutionized the literary canon. In this classic work, now back in print, Olsen broke open the study of literature and discovered a lost continent—the writing of women and working-class people. From the excavated testimony of authors’ letters and diaries we learn the many ways the creative spirit, especially in those disadvantaged by gender, class and race, can be silenced. Olsen recounts the torments of Melville, the crushing weight of criticism on Thomas Hardy, the shame that brought Willa Cather to a dead halt, and struggles of Virginia Woolf, Olsen’s heroine and greatest exemplar of a writer who confronted the forces that would silence her.

Product DetailsPatchett, Ann. Truth & Beauty: A Friendship
Ann Patchett and the late Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work. In Grealy’s critically acclaimed memoir, Autobiography of a Face, she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn’t Lucy’s life or Ann’s life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined . . . and what happens when one is left behind.

Product DetailsRaban, Jonathan. Bad Land: An American Romance.
Jonathan Raban ambles and picks his way across the Montana prairie, called “The Great American Desert” until Congress offered 320-acre tracts of barren land to immigrants with stardust in their eyes. Raban’s prose makes love to the waves of land, red dirt roads, and skeletons of homesteads that couldn’t survive the Dirty Thirties. As poignant as any romance novel, there’s heartbreak in the failed dreams of the homesteaders, a pang of destiny in the arbitrary way railroad towns were thrown into existence, and inspiration in the heroism of people who’ve fashioned lives for themselves by cobbling together homes from the ruined houses of those who couldn’t make it. Through it all, Raban’s voice examines and honors the vast open expanses of land and pays homage to the histories of families who eked out an existence.

Product DetailsRadziwill, Carole. What Remains.
A stunning, tragic memoir about John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn Bissett, and his cousin Anthony Radziwill, by Radziwill’s widow, now a star of The Real Housewives of New York.
What Remains is a vivid and haunting memoir about a girl from a working-class town who becomes an award-winning television producer and marries a prince, Anthony Radziwill. Carole grew up in a small suburb with a large, eccentric cast of characters. At nineteen, she struck out for New York City to find a different life. Her career at ABC News led her to the refugee camps of Cambodia, to a bunker in Tel Aviv, and to the scene of the Menendez murders. Her marriage led her into the old world of European nobility and the newer world of American aristocracy.

Product DetailsRed Cloud with Bob Drury and Tom Clavin. The Heart of Everything that Remains.
An acclaimed New York Times bestseller, selected by Salon as a best book of the year, the astonishing untold story of the life and times of Sioux warrior Red Cloud: “a page-turner with remarkable immediacy…and the narrative sweep of a great Western” (The Boston Globe).
Red Cloud was the only American Indian in history to defeat the United States Army in a war, forcing the government to sue for peace on his terms. At the peak of Red Cloud’s powers the Sioux could claim control of one-fifth of the contiguous United States and the loyalty of thousands of fierce fighters. But the fog of history has left Red Cloud strangely obscured. Now, thanks to the rediscovery of a lost autobiography, and painstaking research by two award-winning authors, the story of the nineteenth century’s most powerful and successful Indian warrior can finally be told.
.“Unabashed, unbiased, and disturbingly honest, leaving no razor-sharp arrowhead unturned, no rifle trigger unpulled….a compelling and fiery narrative” (USA TODAY), this is the definitive chronicle of the conflict between an expanding white civilization and the Plains Indians who stood in its way.

Product DetailsSantiago, Esmeralda. When I Was Puerto Rican.
Esmeralda Santiago’s story begins in rural Puerto Rico, where her childhood was full of both tenderness and domestic strife, tropical sounds and sights as well as poverty. Growing up, she learned the proper way to eat a guava, the sound of tree frogs in the mango groves at night, the taste of the delectable sausage called morcilla, and the formula for ushering a dead baby’s soul to heaven. As she enters school we see the clash, both hilarious and fierce, of Puerto Rican and Yankee culture. When her mother, Mami, a force of nature, takes off to New York with her seven, soon to be eleven children, Esmeralda, the oldest, must learn new rules, a new language, and eventually take on a new identity. In this first volume of her much-praised, bestselling trilogy, Santiago brilliantly recreates the idyllic landscape and tumultuous family life of her earliest years and her tremendous journey from the barrioto Brooklyn, from translating for her mother at the welfare office to high honors at Harvard.

StSmith, Patti. Just Kids. 

In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the ChelseaHotel in the late sixties and seventies.  An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.

Product DetailsStrayed, Cheryl. Wild.
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor,Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Product DetailsThompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing in Las vegas. 

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page.  It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken.

Now this cult classic of gonzo journalism is a major motion picture from Universal, directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro.

Product DetailsTrillin, Calvin. About Alice. In Calvin Trillin’s antic tales of family life, she was portrayed as the wife who had “a weird predilection for limiting our family to three meals a day” and the mother who thought that if you didn’t go to every performance of your child’s school play, “the county would come and take the child.” Now, five years after her death, her husband offers this loving portrait of Alice Trillin off the page–his loving portrait of Alice Trillin off the page–an educator who was equally at home teaching at a university or a drug treatment center, a gifted writer, a stunningly beautiful and thoroughly engaged woman who, in the words of a friend, “managed to navigate the tricky waters between living a life you could be proud of and still delighting in the many things there are to take pleasure in.”

Product DetailsAutobiography of Mark Twain.

Twain is widely rumored to have stated that the full version of his life could not be released until 100 years after his death. What Twain allowed to be published at the time comprises a rambling collection of anecdotes and ruminations rather than a more typical autobiography.His innovative notion – to “talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment” – meant that his thoughts could range freely. Twain thought his autobiography would be most entertaining if he went off on whims and tangents in non-sequential order. This book will be a real joy for all fans of Mark Twain.

Product DetailsWalls, Jeanette. The Glass Castle.
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

Product DetailsWelty, Eudora. One Writer’s Beginnings.
Eudora Welty was born in 1909 in Jackson, Mississippi. In a “continuous thread of revelation” she sketches her autobiography and tells us how her family and her surroundings contributed to the shaping not only of her personality but of her writing. Homely and commonplace sights, sounds, and objects resonate with the emotions of recollection: the striking clocks, the Victrola, her orphaned father’s coverless little book saved since boyhood, the tall mountains of the West Virginia back country that become a metaphor for her mother’s sturdy independence, Eudora’s earliest box camera that suspended a moment forever and taught her that every feeling awaits a gesture. She has recreated this vanished world with the same subtlety and insight that mark her fiction.

Even if Eudora Welty were not a major writer, her description of growing up in the South–of the interplay between black and white, between town and countryside, between dedicated schoolteachers and the public they taught–would he notable. That she is a splendid writer of fiction gives her own experience a family likeness to others in the generation of young Southerners that produced a literary renaissance. Until publication of this book, she had discouraged biographical investigations. It undoubtedly was not easy for this shy and reticent lady to undertake her own literary biography, to relive her own memories (painful as well as pleasant), to go through letters and photographs of her parents and grandparents. But we are in her debt, for the distillation of experience she offers us is a rare pleasure for her admirers, a treat to everyone who loves good writing and anyone who is interested in the seeds of creativity.

Product DetailsWinterson, Jeanette. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

“Magnificent . . . A tour de force of literature and love.”—Vogue

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is raucous. It hums with a dark refulgence from its first pages. . . . Singular and electric . . . [Winterson’s] life with her adoptive parents was often appalling, but it made her the writer she is.”—The New York Times

“[Winterson is] one of the most daring and inventive writers of our time—searingly honest yet effortlessly lithe as she slides between forms, exuberant and unerring, demanding emotional and intellectual expansion of herself and of us. . . . In Why Be Happy,, [Winterson’s] emotional life is laid bare . . . [in] a bravely frank narrative of truly coming undone. For someone in love with disguises, Winterson’s openness is all the more moving; there’s nothing left to hide, and nothing left to hide behind.”—Elle

Jeanette Winterson’s bold and revelatory novels have earned her widespread acclaim, establishing her as a major figure in world literature. She has written some of the most admired books of the past few decades, including her internationally best-selling first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents, that is now often required reading in contemporary fiction classes.

 

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