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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.' A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel - a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the thirties. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man's struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much. To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story, an anti-racist novel, a historical drama of the Great Depression and a sublime example of the Southern writing tradition.

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Midnight's Children

Saleem Sinai was born at midnight, the midnight of India's independence, and found himself mysteriously 'handcuffed to history' by the coincidence. He is one of 1,001 children born at the midnight hour, each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent - and whose privilege and curse it is to be both master and victims of their times. Through Saleem's gifts - inner ear and wildly sensitive sense of smell - we are drawn into a fascinating family saga set against the vast, colourful background of the India of the 20th century.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins, "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them." His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On the Road

Follows the counterculture escapades of members of the Beat generation as they seek pleasure and meaning while traveling coast to coast. As he travels across 1950s America, aspiring writer Sal Paradise chronicles his escapades with the charismatic Dean Moriarty. Sal admires Dean's passion for experiencing as much as possible of life and his wild flights of poetic fancy.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Atonement

A story that begins with three young people in the garden of a country house on the hottest day of 1935, and ends with three profoundly changed lives. A depiction of love and war, class, childhood and England, that explores shame and forgiveness, atonement and the possibility of absolution.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies

A plane crashes on an uninhabited island and the only survivors, a group of schoolboys, assemble on the beach and wait to be rescued. By day they inhabit a land of bright fantastic birds and dark blue seas, but at night their dreams are haunted by the image of a terrifying beast. In this, his first novel, William Golding gave the traditional adventure story an ironic, devastating twist. The boys' delicate sense of order fades, and their childish fears are transformed into something deeper and more primitive. Their games take on a horrible significance, and before long the well-behaved party of schoolboys has turned into a tribe of faceless, murderous savages.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita

A novel that establishes the author's reputation with a large audience tour-de-force of comic satire on sex and the American ways of life.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath

1940 Pulitzer Prize winner. Moving story of a family, moved out of the Oklohoma dust bowl region by economic desperation, who head for California as migrant fruit pickers - finally defeated but still resolute.

American Pastoral by Philip Roth

American Pastoral

Seymour Levov, a devoted family man and inheritor of his father's factory, comes of age in thriving post-war America. His daughter Merry is the apple of his eye until America begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s, and Merry grows up to be a terrorist bent on destroying her father's paradise.

1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four

Since its publication in 1946, George Orwell's fable of a workers' revolution gone wrong has been recognized as a classic of modern political satire. Fuelled by Orwell's intense disillusionment with Soviet Communism, Animal Farm is a nearly perfect piece of writing--both an engaging story and an allegory that actually works. When the downtrodden beasts of Manor Farm oust their drunken human master and take over management of the land, all are awash in collectivist zeal. Everyone willingly works overtime, productivity soars and for one brief, glorious season, every belly is full. The animals' Seven Commandment credo is painted in big white letters on the barn. All animals are equal. No animal shall drink alcohol, wear clothes, sleep in a bed or kill a fellow four-footed creature. Those that go upon four legs or wings are friends and the two-legged are, by definition, the enemy. Too soon, however, the pigs, who have styled themselves leaders by virtue of their intelligence, succumb to the temptations of privilege and power. "We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of the farm depend on us. Day and night, we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." While this swinish brotherhood sells out the revolution, cynically editing the Seven Commandments to excuse their violence and greed, the common animals are once again left hungry and exhausted, no better off than in the days when humans ran the farm. Satire Animal Farm may be, but it's a stony reader who remains unmoved when the stalwart workhorse, Boxer, having given his all to his comrades, is sold to the glue factory to buy booze for the pigs. Orwell's view of Communism is bleak indeed, but given the history of the Russian people since 1917, his pessimism has an air of prophecy. --Joyce Thompson

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind

Tomorrow is another day... Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell's magnificent historical epic is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and a people forever changed. Above all, it is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett O'Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Catch-22

Features a satirical indicement of military madness and stupidity, and the desire of the ordinary man to survive it. This work tells a tale of the dangerously sane Captain Yossarian, who spends his time in Italy plotting to survive.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach. Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character.

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

The 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 still it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell, by chance, into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. From his fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, Sauron’s power spread far and wide. He gathered all the Great Rings to him, but ever he searched far and wide for the One Ring that would complete his dominion. On his eleventy-first birthday, Bilbo disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin, Frodo, the Ruling Ring, and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom. The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the wizard, Merry, Pippin and Sam, Gimli the Dwarf, Legolas the Elf, Boromir of Gondor, and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

Possession: A Romance by A S Byatt

Possession: A Romance

Winner of the 1990 Booker Prize, this novel describes the romance between two 19th-century poets and the parallel relationship of their two biographers and includes passages of 'Victorian verse'. It is structured in the form of a literary and biographical treasure hunt.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved

It is the mid-1800s. At Sweet Home in Kentucky, an era is ending as slavery comes under attack from the abolitionists. The worlds of Halle and Paul D. are to be destroyed in a cataclysm of torment and agony. The world of Sethe, however, is to turn from one of love to one of violence and death - the death of Sethe's baby daughter Beloved, whose name is the single word on the tombstone, who died at her mother's hands, and who will return to claim retribution.

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story

Since its publication in 1946, George Orwell's fable of a workers' revolution gone wrong has been recognized as a classic of modern political satire. Fuelled by Orwell's intense disillusionment with Soviet Communism, Animal Farm is a nearly perfect piece of writing--both an engaging story and an allegory that actually works. When the downtrodden beasts of Manor Farm oust their drunken human master and take over management of the land, all are awash in collectivist zeal. Everyone willingly works overtime, productivity soars and for one brief, glorious season, every belly is full. The animals' Seven Commandment credo is painted in big white letters on the barn. All animals are equal. No animal shall drink alcohol, wear clothes, sleep in a bed or kill a fellow four-footed creature. Those that go upon four legs or wings are friends and the two-legged are, by definition, the enemy. Too soon, however, the pigs, who have styled themselves leaders by virtue of their intelligence, succumb to the temptations of privilege and power. "We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of the farm depend on us. Day and night, we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." While this swinish brotherhood sells out the revolution, cynically editing the Seven Commandments to excuse their violence and greed, the common animals are once again left hungry and exhausted, no better off than in the days when humans ran the farm. Satire Animal Farm may be, but it's a stony reader who remains unmoved when the stalwart workhorse, Boxer, having given his all to his comrades, is sold to the glue factory to buy booze for the pigs. Orwell's view of Communism is bleak indeed, but given the history of the Russian people since 1917, his pessimism has an air of prophecy.

Ulysses by James Joyce

Ulysses

A modernist novel of supreme stylistic innovation, James Joyce's Ulysses is the towering achievement of twentieth century literature. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Declan Kiberd. For Joyce, literature 'is the eternal affirmation of the spirit of man'. Written between 1914 and 1921, Ulysses has survived bowdlerization, legal action and bitter controversy. Capturing a single day in the life of Dubliner Leopold Bloom, his friends Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus, his wife Molly, and a scintillating cast of supporting characters, Joyce pushes Celtic lyricism and vulgarity to splendid extremes. An undisputed modernist classic, its ceaseless verbal inventiveness and astonishingly wide-ranging allusions confirm its standing as an imperishable monument to the human condition. Declan Kilberd says in his introduction that Ulysses is 'an endlessly open book of utopian epiphanies. It holds a mirror up to the colonial capital that was Dublin on 16 June 1904, but it also offers redemptive glimpses of a future world which might be made over in terms of those utopian moments.'

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

The Shipping News

Quoyle is a hapless, hopeless hack journalist living and working in New York. When his no-good wife is killed in a spectacular road accident, Quoyle heads for the land of his forefathers -- the remotest corner of far-flung Newfoundland. With 'the aunt' and his delinquent daughters -- Bunny and Sunshine -- in tow, Quoyle finds himself part of an unfolding, exhilarating Atlantic drama. 'The Shipping News' is an irresistible comedy of human life and possibility.

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Jude the Obscure

Jude Fawley is a rural stone mason with intellectual aspirations. Frustrated by poverty and the indifference of the academic institutions at the University of Christminster, his only chance of fulfilment seems to lie in his relationship with his unconventional cousin, Sue Bridehead.

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

A Passage to India

Exploring issues of colonialism, faith and the limits of comprehension, E.M. Forster's A Passage to India is edited by Oliver Stallybrass, with an introduction by Pankaj Mishra. When Adela Quested and her elderly companion Mrs Moore arrive in the Indian town of Chandrapore, they quickly feel trapped by its insular and prejudiced 'Anglo-Indian' community. Determined to escape the parochial English enclave and explore the 'real India', they seek the guidance of the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz, a cultivated Indian Muslim. But a mysterious incident occurs while they are exploring the Marabar caves with Aziz, and the well-respected doctor soon finds himself at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects. A masterly portrait of a society in the grip of imperialism, A Passage to India compellingly depicts the fate of individuals caught between the great political and cultural conflicts of the modern world.

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Vanity Fair

Becky Sharp is a poor orphan when she first makes friends with the lovely Amelia Sedley at Miss Pinkerton's Academy for Young Ladies. She may not have the natural advantages of her companion but she more than makes up for it with her wit, charm, deviousness and determination to make a success of herself whatever the cost.

The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith

The Diary of a Nobody

Mr Pooter is an office clerk and upright family man in a dull 1880s suburb. His diary is a portrait of the class system and the inherent snobbishness of the suburban middle classes. It sends up contemporary crazes for Aestheticism, spiritualism and bicycling.

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

Three Men in a Boat

What could be more relaxing than a refreshing holiday on the river with your two best friends and faithful canine companion, Montmorency? However, as J discovers, there is more to life on the waves than meets the eye - including navigational challenges, culinary disasters, and heroic battles with swans, kettles and tins of pineapple.

The Big Sleep: A Philip Marlowe Mystery by Raymond Chandler

The Big Sleep: A Philip Marlowe Mystery

Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood's two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA's seedy backstreets, Marlowe's got his work cut out.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Wind in the Willows

Originally written as a series of bedtime stories for the author's son, "The Wind in the Willows" is a classic of children's literature that can equally be enjoyed by adults. It tells the adventures of the Toad, the Mole, the Rat, and the Badger who all live along or by the riverbank

Herzog by Saul Bellow

Herzog

Herzog is alone now that Medeleine has left him. Locked for days in the custody of his rambling memories, Herzog scrawls frantic letters which he never mails. His mind buzzes with conundrums and polemics, writing in a spectacular intellectual labyrinth. Is he crazy, or is he a genius?

Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis

Money: A Suicide Note

This is the story of John Self, consumer extraordinaire. Rolling around New York and London, he makes deals, spends wildly and does reckless movie-world business, all the while grabbing everything he can to sate his massive appetites: alcohol, tobacco, pills, pornography, a mountain of junk food and more.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women

The beloved story of the March girls is a classic American novel, telling the story of four sisters: independent, tomboyish Jo; delicate, loving Beth; pretty, kind Meg; and precocious, beautiful Amy, the baby of the family. The charming story of these four "little women" and their wise and patient mother Marmee enduring hardships and enjoying adventures in Civil War New England was an instant success when first published in 1868 and has been adored for generations.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Presents the story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her.

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma

When spirited socialite Emma Woodhouse appoints herself matchmaker to her gentle Harriet, she can't possibly image the chaos she will create . Yet might this social disorder bring a match for Emma herself? One she would never haved guessed.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple

Set in the deep American south between the wars, this is the classic tale of Celie, a young poor black girl. Raped repeatedly by her father, she loses two children and then is married off to a man who treats her no better than a slave. She is separated from her sister Nettie and dreams of becoming like the glamorous Shug Avery, a singer and rebellious black woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the support of women that enables her to leave the past behind and begin a new life.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Mrs. Dalloway

Clarissa Dalloway is civilised--without the ostentation of a socialite, but with enough distinction to attract them to her parties. She finds excess offensive, but surrounds herself with the highest quality and has an abhorrence for anything ugly or awkward. Mrs. Dalloway is as much a character study as it is a commentary on the ills and benefits society gleans from class. Through Virginia Woolf, we spend a day with Clarissa as she interacts with servants, her children, her husband, and even an ex-lover. As she plans and executes one of her celebrated parties, she reveals inner machinations incongruous with her class-defined behaviors, that ultimately enable her to transcend them.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

'Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life . . .'Passionate, free-thinking and unconventional, Miss Brodie is a teacher who exerts a powerful influence over her group of 'special girls' at Marcia Blaine School. They are the Brodie set, the crème de la crème, each famous for something - Monica for mathematics, Eunice for swimming, Rose for sex - who are initiated into a world of adult games and extracurricular activities they will never forget. But the price they pay is their undivided loyalty . . .The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a brilliantly comic novel featuring one of the most unforgettable characters in all literature.'Muriel Spark's novels linger in the mind as brilliant shards.' John Updike

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

Bored on a hot afternoon, Alice follows a White Rabbit down a rabbit-hole without giving a thought about how she might get out. And so she tumbles into Wonderland. In a land in which nothing is as it seems and cakes and mushrooms can make her shrink to ten inches or grow to the size of a house, will Alice be able to find her way home again?

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

The Blind Assassin

"It's loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward," writes Margaret Atwood, towards the end of her impressive and complex new novel, The Blind Assassin. It's a melancholic account of why writers write--and readers read--and one that frames the different lives told through this book. The Blind Assassin is (at least) two novels. At the end of her life, Iris Griffen takes up her pen to record the secret history of her family, the romantic melodrama of its decline and fall between the two World Wars. Conjuring a world of prosperity and misery, marriage and loneliness, the central enigma of Iris's tale is the death of her sister, Laura Chase, who "drove a car off a bridge" at the end of the Second World War. Suicide or accident? The story gradually unfolds, interspersed with sketches of Iris's present-day life--confined by age and ill-health--and a second novel, The Blind Assassin by Laura Chase. Allowing a glimpse into a clandestine love affair between a privileged young woman and a radical "agitator" on the run, this version of The Blind Assassin is an overt act of seduction: the exchange of sex and story about an imaginary world of Sakiel-Norn (a play with the potential, and convention, of fantasy and sci-fi). With the intelligence, subtlety and remarkable characterisation associated with Atwood's writing (from her first novel, The Edible Woman through to the best-selling Alias Grace), these two stories play with one another--sustaining an uncertainty about who has done what to who and why to the very end of this compelling book. --Vicky Lebeau

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

Oscar and Lucinda

Oscar Hopkins is an Oxford seminarian with a passion for gambling. Lucinda Leplastrier is a Sydney heiress with a fascination for glass. The year is 1864. When they meet on the boat to Australia their lives will be forever changed.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage. She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester. However, there is great kindness and warmth in this epic love story, which is set against the magnificent backdrop of the Yorkshire moors. Ultimately the grand passion of Jane and Rochester is called upon to survive cruel revelation, loss and reunion, only to be confronted with tragedy.

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

The Thirty-Nine Steps

Richard Hannay finds a corpse in his flat, and becomes involved in a plot by spies to precipitate war and subvert British naval power. The resourceful victim of a manhunt, he is pursued by both the police and the ruthless conspirators. The Thirty-Nine Steps is a seminal 'chase' thriller, rapid and vivid. It has been widely influential and frequently dramatised: the film directed by Alfred Hitchcock became a screen classic. This engaging novel also provides insights into the inter-action of patriotism, fear and prejudice.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things

‘They all broke the rules. They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much.’ This is the story of Rahel and Estha, twins growing up among the banana vats and peppercorns of their blind grandmother’s factory, and amid scenes of political turbulence in Kerala. Armed only with the innocence of youth, they fashion a childhood in the shade of the wreck that is their family: their lonely, lovely mother, their beloved Uncle Chacko (pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher) and their sworn enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun, incumbent grand-aunt). Arundhati Roy’s Booker Prize-winning novel was the literary sensation of the 1990s: a story anchored to anguish but fuelled by wit and magic.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude

As Melquiades excites Buendia's father with new inventions and tales of adventure, neither can know the significance of the indecipherable manuscript that the gypsy passes into their hands. The tribulations of the Buendia household push memories of the manuscript aside. Few remember its existence and one will discover the message that it holds.

Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus

Victor Frankenstein's story is one of ambition, murder and revenge. As a young scientist he pushed moral boundaries in order to cross the final scientific frontier and create life. But his creation is a monster stitched together from grave-robbed body parts who has no place in the world, and his life can only lead to tragedy.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Experiments with the notion of sin as an element of design. This novel is a puzzle, intended to tease conventional minds with its exploration of the myriad interrelationships between art, life, and consequence.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Moby-Dick

When Ishmael sets sail on the whaling ship Pequod one cold Christmas Day, he has no idea of the horrors awaiting him out on the vast and merciless ocean. The ship's strange captain, Ahab, is in the grip of an obsession to hunt down the famous white whale, Moby Dick, and will stop at nothing on his quest to annihilate his nemesis.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights

Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire Moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo

The ultimate story of escape to riches, revenge and redemption by 'the Napoleon of storytellers'.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World

Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart

Okonowo is the greatest warrior alive and he is one of the powerful men of his clan. But he also has a fiery temper. Determined not to be like his father, he refuses to show his weakness. When outsiders threaten the traditions of his clan, he takes violent action. Will the great man's pride eventually destroy him?

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

The Woman in White

This classic novel opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his 'charming' friend Count Fosco.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea

The old man has gone 84 days without catching a fish, everything about him is old except his eyes, they are the colour of the sea. He finally catches a fish, but this is no ordinary fish, nor is his fierce and determined response.

Northern Lights: His Dark Materials 1 by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights: His Dark Materials 1

Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world...

The Magus by John Fowles

The Magus

On a remote Greek Island, Nicholas Urfe finds himself embroiled in the deceptions of a master trickster. As reality and illusion intertwine, Urfe is caught up in the darkest of psychological games.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs. Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood's devastating irony, wit and astute perception.

Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Sunset Song

Scotland's favorite modern novel "Sunset Song" is the first volume in Gibbon's revered trilogy, "A Scot's Quair." In it, he chronicles the life of young Chris Guthrie. Living in the harsh landscape of northern Scotland, she is torn between her passion for the land, duty to her family, and love of books. When her mother kills herself and her two youngest children, Chris and her father are left to run the farm on their own. But everything changes once more as the First World War begins. Infused with local vernacular, "Sunset Song" is a poignant and intense portrait of Scottish life in the early twentieth century.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse is the most autobiographical of Virginia Woolf's novels. It is based on her own early experiences, and while it touches on childhood and children's perceptions and desires, it is at its most trenchant when exploring adult relationships, marriage and the changing class-structure in the period spanning the Great War.

Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener

Tales of the South Pacific

Enter the exotic world of the South Pacific, meet the men and women caught up in the drama of a big war. The young Marine who falls madly in love with a beautiful Tonkinese girl. Nurse Nellie and her French planter, Emile De Becque. The soldiers, sailors, and nurses playing at war and waiting for love in a tropic paradise.

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

A Thousand Acres

Ageing Larry Cook announces his intention to turn over his 1,000-acre farm--one of the largest in Zebulon County, Iowa--to his three daughters, Caroline, Ginny and Rose. A man of harsh sensibilities, he carves Caroline out of the deal because she has the nerve to be less than enthusiastic about her father's generosity. While Larry Cook deteriorates into a pathetic drunk, his daughters are left to cope with the often grim realities of life on a family farm--from battering husbands to cut-throat lenders. In this winner of the US 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Smiley captures the essence of such a life with stark, painful detail. --Amazon.com

A Quiet Belief In Angels by R.J. Ellory

A Quiet Belief In Angels

Joseph Vaughan's life has been dogged by tragedy. Growing up in the 1950s, he was at the centre of series of killings of young girls in his small rural community. The girls were taken, assaulted and left horribly mutilated. Barely a teenager himself, Joseph becomes determined to try to protect his community and classmates from the predations of the killer. But despite banding together with his friends as 'Guardians', he was powerless to prevent more murders - and no one was ever caught. Only after a full ten years did the nightmare end when the one of his neighbours is found hanging from a rope - with articles from the dead girls around him. Thankfully though, the killings finally ceased. Ill-fortune was not yet done with Joseph though and in desperation he leaves the town of his birth to forge a new life in New York. But the past won't leave him alone - for it seems that the real murderer still lives and is killing again. And the secret of his identity lies in Joseph's own history

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels

Jonathan Swift's classic satirical narrative was first published in 1726, seven years after Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (one of its few rivals in fame and breadth of appeal). As a parody travel-memoir it reports on extraordinary lands and societies, whose names have entered the English language: notably the minute inhabitants of Lilliput, the giants of Brobdingnag, and the Yahoos in Houyhnhnmland, where talking horses are the dominant species. It spares no vested interest from its irreverent wit, and its attack on political and financial corruption, as well as abuses in science, continue to resonate in our own times.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Rebecca

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . .Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson

Behind The Scenes At The Museum

Ruby Lennox was conceived grudgingly by Bunty and born while her father, George, was in the Dog and Hare in Doncaster telling a woman in an emerald dress and a D-cup that he wasn't married. Bunty had never wanted to marry George, but here she was, stuck in a flat above the pet shop in an ancient street beneath York Minster.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The Name of the Rose

Who is killing monks in a great medieval abbey famed for its library - and why? Brother William of Baskerville is sent to find out, taking with him the assistant who later tells the tale of his investigations. This story combines elements of detective fiction, metaphysical thriller, post-modernist puzzle and historical novel.

The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West

The Day of the Locust

Tod Hackett is a brilliant young artist - and a man in danger of losing his heart. Brought to an LA studio as a set-designer, he is soon caught up in a fantasy world where the cult of celebrity rules. But when he becomes besotted by the beautiful Faye, an aspiring actress and occasional call-girl, his dream rapidly becomes a nightmare.

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

Pale Fire

The American poet John Shade is dead; murdered. His last poem, Pale Fire, is put into a book, together with a preface, a lengthy commentary and notes by Shade's editor, Charles Kinbote. Known on campus as the 'Great Beaver', Kinbote is haughty, inquisitive, intolerant, but is he also mad, bad - and even dangerous?

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence

Engaged to the docile May Welland, Newland Archer falls madly in love with the nonconformist Countess Olenska, an older woman with a reputation, but his allegiance to the social code of their set makes their love an impossibility Amazon.com description: Product Description: Widely regarded as one of Edith Wharton`s greatest achievements, The Age of Innocence is not only subtly satirical, but also a sometimes dark and disturbing comedy of manners in its exploration of the `eternal triangle` of love. Set against the backdrop of upper-class New York society during the 1870s, the author`s combination of powerful prose combined with a thoroughly researched and meticulous evocation of the manners and style of the period, has delighted readers since the novel`s first publication in 1920. In 1921 The Age of Innocence achieved a double distinction - it won the Pulitzer Prize and it was the first time this prestigious award had been won by a woman author

March: A Love Story in a Time of War by Geraldine Brooks

March: A Love Story in a Time of War

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and Richard and Judy pick. From the author of the acclaimed 'Year of Wonders' and 'People of the Book', a historical novel and love story set during a time of catastrophe on the front lines of the American Civil War.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife

This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare's struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson originally wrote "Dr. Jekyll And Mr Hyde" as a "chilling shocker." He then burned the draft and, upon his wife's advice, rewrote it as the darkly complex tale it is today. Stark, skillfully woven, this fascinating novel explores the curious turnings of human character through the strange case of Dr. Jekyll, a kindly scientist who by night takes on his stunted evil self, Mr. Hyde. Anticipating modern psychology, "Jekyll And Hyde" is a brilliantly original study of man's dual nature -- as well as an immortal tale of suspense and terror. Published in 1866, "Jekyll And Hyde" was an instant success and brought Stevenson his first taste of fame. Though sometimes dismissed as a mere mystery story, the book has evoked much literary admirations. Vladimir Nabokov likened it to "Madame Bovary" and "Dead Souls" as "a fable that lies nearer to poetry than to ordinary prose fiction."

The Plague by Albert Camus

The Plague

The story of the affect of the bubonic plague and the Algerians will to survive.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho

Patrick Bateman is twenty-six and works on Wall Street; he is handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent. He is also a psychopath. Taking us to a head-on collision with America's greatest dream and its worst nightmare American Psychois a bleak, bitter, black comedy about a world we all recognize but do not wish to confront. ' American Psychois a beautifully controlled, careful, important novel . . . The novelist's function is to keep a running tag on the progress of the culture; and he's done it brilliantly . . . A seminal book' Fay Weldon, Washington Post 'The first novel to come along in years that takes on deep and Dostoyevskian themes . . . Ellis is showing older authors where the hands have come to on the clock' Norman Mailer, Vanity Fair 'Serious, clever and shatteringly effective . . . For its savagely coherent picture of a society lethally addicted to blandness, it should be judged by the highest standards' Sunday Times

How Late It Was How Late by James Kelman

How Late It Was How Late

Sammy's had a bad week - his wallet's gone, along with his new shoes, he's been arrested then beaten up by the police and thrown out on the street - and he's just gone blind. He remembers a row with his girlfriend, but she seems to have disappeared. Things aren't looking too good for Sammy and his problems have hardly begun.

A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh

A Handful of Dust

From Work Suspended, where Plant, a writer of detective fiction, puts his incomplete novel in a drawer until such time as he can finish it, to Basil Seal Rides Again, in which the hero of Black Mischief defeats the children of the Sixties, this volume includes stories that encompass much of the social milieu of the 20th century.

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

The Sheltering Sky

Port and Kit Moresbury, a sophisticated American couple, are finding it more than a little difficult to live with each other. Endeavoring to escape this predicament, they set off for North Africa intending to travel through Algeria - uncertain of exactly where they are heading, but determined to leave the modern world behind.

The Executioner's Song (Arena Books) by Norman Mailer

The Executioner's Song (Arena Books)

A Pulitzer Prize-winning account of murderer Gary Gilmore's desire to die. In 1976 he robbed two men and then shot them in cold blood. His subsequent battle with the authorities for the right to die made him a worldwide celebrity and ensured that his execution turned into a gruesome media event.

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

The New York Trilogy

The New York Trilogy is an astonishing and original book: three cleverly interconnected novels that exploit the elements of standard detective fiction and achieve a new genre that is all the more gripping for its starkness. In each story the search for clues leads to remarkable coincidences in the universe as the simple act of trailing a man ultimately becomes a startling investigation of what it means to be human. Auster's book is modern fiction at its finest: bold, arresting and unputdownable.

The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence

The Rainbow

Explains about three generations of the Brangwen family of Nottinghamshire from the 1840s to the early years of the twentieth century. This framework is with the passional lives of author's characters as he explores the pressures that determine their lives, using a religious symbolism in which the 'rainbow' of the title is his unifying motif.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

One Thursday lunchtime Earth is unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. For Arthur Dent, who has only just had his house demolished that morning, this is already more than he can cope with. Sadly, however, the weekend has only just begun. And the Galaxy is a very, very large and startling place indeed . . . THE HITCH HIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY became a massive cult success when it was first published and continues to sell all over the world. It introduced such memorable characters as Arthur Dent, Marvin the Paranoid Android, Zaphod Beeblebrox and, of course, the Vogons, and remains one of the funniest, most irreverent and entertaining novels ever.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island

Stevenson's classic tale of buccaneers, a treasure map, and a hunt for buried gold introduced the character of Long John Silver and brought moral ambiguity into children's books.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

A Fine Balance

Set in mid-1970s India, A Fine Balance is a subtle and compelling narrative about four unlikely characters who come together in circumstances no one could have foreseen soon after the government declares a 'State of Internal Emergency'. It is a breathtaking achievement: panoramic yet humane, intensely political yet rich with local delight; and, above all, compulsively readable.

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

The Moviegoer

A winner of the National Book Award, The Moviegoer established Walker Percy as an insightful and grimly humorous storyteller with a rare talent for making his people look and sound as though they were being seen and heard for the first time by anyone (Time).

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer

Miller’s groundbreaking first novel, banned in Britain for almost thirty years. A penniless and as yet unpublished writer, Henry Miller arrived in Paris in 1930. Leaving behind a disintegrating marriage and an unhappy career in America, he threw himself into the low-life of bohemian Paris with unwavering gusto. A fictional account of Miller’s adventures amongst the prostitutes and pimps, the penniless painters and writers of Montparnasse, Tropic of Cancer is an extravagant and rhapsodic hymn to a world of unrivalled eroticism and freedom. Tropic of Cancer’s 1934 publication in France was hailed by Samuel Beckett as ‘a momentous event in the history of modern writing’. The novel was subsequently banned in the UK and the USA and not released for publication for a further thirty years.

Wise Children by Angela Carter

Wise Children

A comic tale of the tangled fortunes of two theatrical families, the hazards and chances. The author's novel is populated with as many sets of twins, and mistaken identities as any Shakespeare comedy, and celebrates the magic of over a century of show business.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

When Huck escapes from his drunken father and the 'sivilizing' Widow Douglas with the runaway slave Jim, he embarks on a series of adventures that draw him to feuding families and the trickery of the unscrupulous 'Duke' and 'Dauphin'.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Bleak House

The English equity court of the nineteenth century is satirized in Dicken's tale about the suit of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce.

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

High Fidelity

Rob is good on music: he owns a small record shop and has strong views on what's decent and what isn't. But he's much less good on relationships. In fact, he's not at all sure that he wants to commit himself to anyone. So it's hardly surprising that his girlfriend decides that enough is enough.

The Siege Of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell

The Siege Of Krishnapur

In the Spring of 1857, with India on the brink of a violent and bloody mutiny, Krishnapur is a remote town on the vast North Indian plain. For the British there, life is orderly and genteel. Then the sepoys at the nearest military cantonment rise in revolt and the British community retreats with shock into the Residency. They prepare to fight for their lives with what weapons they can muster. As food and ammunition grow short, the Residency, its defences battered by shot and shell and eroded by the rains, becomes ever more vulnerable. The Siege of Krishnapur is a modern classic of narrative excitement that also digs deep to explore some fundamental questions of civilisation and life.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road

The searing, post-apocalyptic novel that has instantly established itself as a modern masterpiece

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Brothers Karamazov

Presents erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving Karamazov and his three sons. This book portrays the social and spiritual strivings in Russian culture.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

'My life looks as if it had been wasted for want of chances! When I see what you know, what you have read, and seen, and thought, I feel what a nothing I am!' Challenging the hypocrisy and social conventions of the rural Victorian world, Tess of the D'Urbervilles follows the story of Tess Durbeyfield as she attempts to escape the poverty of her background, seeking wealth by claiming connection with the aristocratic D'Urberville family. It is through Tess's relationships with two very different men that Hardy tells the story of his tragic heroine, and exposes the double standards of the world that she inhabits with searing pathos and heart-rending sentiment.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

A group of people have little in common except that they are all hopelessly lonely. A young girl, a drunken socialist and a black doctor are drawn to a gentle, sympathetic deaf mute, whose presence changes their lives.

Slaughterhouse 5, or The Children's Crusade - A Duty-dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse 5, or The Children's Crusade - A Duty-dance with Death

Centring on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces

The ordinary folk of New Orleans seem to think he is unhinged as well. Ignatius ignores them as he heaves his vast bulk through the city’s fleshpots in a noble crusade against vice, modernity and ignorance. But his momma has a nasty surprise in store for him. Ignatius must get a job. Undaunted, he uses his new-found employment to further his mission – and now he has a pirate costume and a hot-dog cart to do it with it.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon

This is the story of Macon 'Milkman' Dead, heir to the richest black family in a Midwestern town, as he makes a voyage of rediscovery, travelling southwards geographically and inwards spiritually. Through the enlightenment of one man, the novel recapitulates the history of slavery and liberation.

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute Norway

A Town Like Alice

Jean Paget is just twenty years old and working in Malaya when the Japanese invasion begins. When she is captured she joins a group of other European women and children whom the Japanese force to march for miles through the jungle - an experience that leads to the deaths of many.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

East of Eden

'Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man.'California's fertile Salinas Valley is home to two families whose destinies are fruitfully, and fatally, intertwined. Over the generations, between the beginning of the twentieth century and the end of the First World War, the Trasks and the Hamiltons will helplessly replay the fall of Adam and Eve and the murderous rivalry of Cain and Abel.East of Eden was considered by Steinbeck to be his magnum opus, and its epic scope and memorable characters, exploring universal themes of love and identity, ensure it remains one of America's most enduring novels.

Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally

Schindler's Ark

In the shadow of Auschwitz, a flamboyant German industrialist grew into a living legend to the Jews of Cracow. He was a womaniser, a heavy drinker and a bon viveur, but to them he became a saviour. This is the extraordinary story of Oskar Schindler, who risked his life to protect Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland and who was transformed by the war into a man with a mission, a compassionate angel of mercy.

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Lucky Jim

Jim Dixon has accidentally fallen into a job at one of Britain's new red brick universities. A moderately successful future in the History Department beckons. As long as Jim can survive a madrigal-singing weekend at Professor Welch's, deliver a lecture on 'Merrie England' and resist Christine, the girlfriend of Welch's awful son Bertrand.

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd is perhaps the most pastoral of Hardy's Wessex novels. It tells the story of the young farmer Gabriel Oak and his love for and pursuit of the elusive Bathsheba Everdene, whose wayward nature leads her to both tragedy and true love. It tells of the dashing Sergeant Troy whose rakish philosophy of life was '...the past was yesterday; never, the day after'. And lastly, of the introverted and reclusive gentleman farmer, Mr Boldwood, whose love fills him with '...a fearful sense of exposure', when he first sets eyes on Bathsheba. The background of this tale is the Wessex countryside in all its moods, contriving to make it one of the most English of great English novels.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4

At thirteen years old, Adrian Mole has more than his fair share of problems - spots, ill-health, parents threatening to divorce, rejection of his poetry and much more.

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

The Line of Beauty

It is the summer of 1983, and young Nick Guest, an innocent in the matters of politics and money, has moved into an attic room in the Notting Hill home of the Feddens: Gerald, an ambitious new Tory MP, his wealthy wife Rachel, and their children Toby and Catherine. Nick had idolized Toby at Oxford, but in his London life it will be the troubled Catherine who becomes his friend and his uneasy responsibility. At the boom years of the mid-80s unfold, Nick becomes caught up in the Feddens’ world. In an era of endless possibility, Nick finds himself able to pursue his own private obsession, with beauty – a prize as compelling to him as power and riches are to his friends.

A Death in the Family by James Agee

A Death in the Family

On a sultry summer night in 1915, Jay Follet leaves his house in Knoxville, Tennessee, to tend to his father, who he believes is dying. The summons turns out to be a false alarm, but on his way back to his family, Jay has a car accident and is killed instantly.

Play it as it Lays by Joan Didion

Play it as it Lays

A ruthless and unflinching examination of American life in the late 1960s, from the author of The Year of Magical Thinking. Somewhere out beyond Hollywood, hollowed-out actress Maria Wyeth’s life plays out in a numbing routine of perpetual freeway driving. Anaesthetized to pain and pleasure, she is seemingly unaffected by her fraught personal history. In her early thirties, divorced from her husband, dislocated from friends, and somehow detached from her past and future, Wyeth epitomises a generation made ill by too much freedom. Set beyond good and evil – literally in Los Angeles and the barren wastescapes of the Mojave desert, and figuratively in the landscapes of a broken spirit – Play It As It Lays is an immaculately wrought vision of Californian culture on the cusp of the 1970s. Three decades after its original publication, the novel remains an intense dissection of a very particular time and place.

One of Ours by Willa Cather

One of Ours

The Pulitzer Prize winning novel about a young Nebraskan looking for something to believe in. Alienated from his parents, rejected by his wife, he finds his destiny on the bloody battlefields of World War I.

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

The Portrait of a Lady

Isabel Archer's main aim in life is to protect her independence. She is not interested in settling down and compromising her freedom for the sake of marriage. But, on a trip around Europe, she finds herself captivated by the charming Gilbert Osmond, who is very interested in the idea of adding Isabel to his collection of beautiful artworks.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Middlemarch

Middlemarch is a complex tale of idealism, disillusion, profligacy, loyalty and frustrated love. This penetrating analysis of the life of an English provincial town during the time of social unrest prior to the Reform Bill of 1832 is told through the lives of Dorothea Brooke and Dr Tertius Lydgate and includes a host of other paradigm characters who illuminate the condition of English life in the mid-nineteenth century. Henry James described Middlemarch as a ‘treasurehouse of detail’ while Virginia Woolf famously endorsed George Eliot’s masterpiece as ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty

Anna Sewell's famous 'Autobiography of a Horse' is a Victorian and children's classic. Written to expose and prevent cruelty to horses in Victorian England, the novel's appeal as animal story, horse-care manual, protest work, feminist text and slave narrative is fully explored in this new edition.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

The Godfather

Offers a portrayal of the 1940s criminal underworld. This book presents the story of the Corleone family, at once drawn together and ripped apart by its position at the core of the American Mafia.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

The English Patient

The final curtain is closing on the Second World War, and Hana, a nurse, stays behind in an abandoned Italian villa to tend to her only remaining patient. Rescued by Bedouins from a burning plane, he is English, anonymous, damaged beyond recognition and haunted by his memories of passion and betrayal. The only clue Hana has to his past is the one thing he clung on to through the fire - a copy of The Histories by Herodotus, covered with hand-written notes describing a painful and ultimately tragic love affair.

The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow

The Adventures of Augie March

Augie March is a poor Chicago boy growing up during the Great Depression. A 'born recruit', he latches on to a wild succession of occupations, then proudly rejects each one as too limiting. He goes on to recruit himself to even more outlandish projects, but always ducks out in time to continue improvising his unconventional career.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash

From the opening line of his breakthrough cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson plunges the reader into a not-too-distant future. It is a world where the Mafia controls pizza delivery, the United States exists as a patchwork of corporate-franchise city states, and the Internet--incarnate as the Metaverse--looks something like last year's hype would lead you to believe it should. Enter Hiro Protagonist--hacker, samurai swordsman and pizza-delivery driver. When his best friend fries his brain on a new designer drug called Snow Crash and his beautiful, brainy ex-girlfriend asks for his help, what's a guy with a name like that to do? He rushes to the rescue. A breakneck-paced 21st-century novel, Snow Crash interweaves everything from Sumerian myth to visions of a postmodern civilization on the brink of collapse. Faster than the speed of television and a whole lot more fun, Snow Crash is the portrayal of a future that is bizarre enough to be plausible. --Acton Lane

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe

Inspired almost every conceivable kind of imitation, and been the subject of plays, opera, cartoons, and computer games. Praised by figures like Coleridge, Rousseau and Wordsworth, this book was cited by Karl Marx in Das Kapital to illustrate economic theory. However it is readers who have given this book its position as a tale of adventure.

Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald

Austerlitz

In 1939, five-year-old Jacques Austerlitz is sent to England on a Kindertransport and placed with foster parents. This childless couple promptly erase from the boy all knowledge of his identity and he grows up ignorant of his past. Later in life, after a career as an architectural historian, Austerlitz – having avoided all clues that might point to his origin – finds the past returning to haunt him and he is forced to explore what happened fifty years before.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Persuasion

The romance between Captain Wentworth and Anne, the daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, seems doomed because of the young man's family connections and lack of wealth.

Blood Meridian: or The Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

Blood Meridian: or The Evening Redness in the West

Blood Meridian is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas–Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving. ‘Cormac McCarthy’s violent lyric masterpiece, Blood Meridian acquires an amoral, apocalyptic dimension through the Miltonic grandeur of the language . . . It is a barbarously poetic odyssey through a hell without purpose’ Irish Times ‘McCarthy’s achievement is to establish a new mythology which is as potent and vivid as that of the movies, yet one which has absolutely the opposite effect . . . He is a great writer’ Independent ‘A bloody and starkly beautiful tale’ Stephen Amidon, Sunday Times

The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

The Man Who Loved Children

Sam and Henny Pollit have too many children, too little money, and too much loathing for each other. As Sam uses the children's adoration to feed his own voracious ego, Henny watches in bleak despair, knowing the bitter reality that lies just below his mad visions. A chilling novel of family life, of the relations between parents and children, husbands and wives, The Man Who Loved Children is acknowledged as a contemporary classic. Christina Stead was the author of over a dozen works of fiction and the recipient of The Patrick White Prize. She was born in Australia in 1902 and died in 1983.

Under The Net by Iris Murdoch

Under The Net

Jake Donaghue is a drifting, clever, likeable young man who makes a living out of translation work and sponging on his friends. A meeting with Anna, an old flame, leads him into a series of fantastic adventures. Jake is captivated by a majestic philosopher, Hugo Belfounder.

Independence Day by Richard Ford

Independence Day

Frank Bascombe, in the aftermath of his divorce and the ruin of his career, has entered an 'Existence Period' - selling real estate in New Jersey and mastering the high-wire act of normalcy. But, over one Fourth of July weekend, Frank is called into sudden, bewildering engagement with life. "Independence Day" is a moving, peerlessly funny odyssey through America and through the layered consciousness of one of its most compelling literary incarnations, conducted by a novelist of extraordinary empathy and perception.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

John le Carre's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge and have earned him -- and his hero, British Secret Service agent George Smiley -- unprecedented worldwide acclaim. A modern masterpiece in which le Carre expertly creates a total vision of a secret world, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" begins George Smiley's chess match of wills and wits with Karla, his Soviet counterpart. It is now beyond doubt that a mole, implanted decades ago by Moscow Centre, has burrowed his way into the highest echelons of British Intelligence. His treachery has already blown some of its most vital operations and its best networks. It is clear that the double agent is one of its own kind. But which one? George Smiley is assigned to identify him. And once identified, the traitor must be destroyed.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations

Traces growth of the book's narrator, Philip Pirrip (Pip), from a boy of shallow dreams to a man with depth of character. As Pip unravels truth behind his own expectations in his quest to become a gentleman, the mysteries of past and the fate through a series of adventures steers him towards maturity and an important discovery.

The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat

The Cruel Sea

Based on the author's own experiences, this book presents the story of the crew of HMS Compass Rose, a corvette assigned to protect convoys in World War Two. It offers descriptions of agonizing U-boat hunts. It tells of ordinary, heroic men who had to face a brutal menace which would strike without warning from the deep.

The Death Of The Heart by Elizabeth Bowen

The Death Of The Heart

It is London in the late 1930s, and into a coterie of rather grand early-middle-aged people the sixteen-year-old orphan Portia is plunged beyond her depth. Disconcertingly vulnerable, Portia is manifestly trying to understand what is going on around her and looking for something that is not there. Evident victim, she is also an inadvertent victimiser - her impossible lovingness and austere trust being too much for her admirer Eddie, who is himself defensive and uncomfortable in this society which has managed to bring them together. In the midst of the rising tension is set perhaps Elizabeth Bowen's most brilliant piece of social comedy, when, at a seaside villa full of rollicking young people, Portia experiences at least temporary relief from the misery Eddie seems determined to bring her.

Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth

Portnoy's Complaint

A story that tells about the confession of Alexander Portnoy who is thrust through life by his unappeasable sexuality, yet held back at the same time by the iron grip of his unforgettable childhood.

Waiting For The Barbarians by J M Coetzee

Waiting For The Barbarians

For decades the Magistrate has run the affairs of a tiny frontier settlement, ignoring the impending war between the barbarians and the Empire, whose servant he is.

A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving

A Prayer For Owen Meany

Eleven-year-old Owen Meany, playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend's mother. Owen doesn't believe in accidents; he believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is both extraordinary and terrifying.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Crime and Punishment

A desperate young man plans the perfect crime -- the murder of a despicable pawnbroker, an old women no one loves and no one will mourn. Is it not just, he reasons, for a man of genius to commit such a crime, to transgress moral law -- if it will ultimately benefit humanity? So begins one of the greatest novels ever written: a powerful psychological study, a terrifying murder mystery, a fascinating detective thriller infused with philosophical, religious and social commentary. Raskolnikov, an impoverished student living in a garret in the gloomy slums of St. Petersburg, carries out his grotesque scheme and plunges into a hell of persecution, madness and terror. Crime And Punishment takes the reader on a journey into the darkest recesses of the criminal and depraved mind, and exposes the soul of a man possessed by both good and evil ... a man who cannot escape his own conscience.From the Paperback edition.

House Of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski

House Of Leaves

Johnny Truant, an employee in a LA tattoo parlour, finds a notebook kept by Zampano, a reclusive old man found dead in a cluttered apartment. Herein is the heavily annotated story of the Navidson Report. Will Navidson, a photojournalist, and his family move into a new house. What happens next is recorded on videotapes and in interviews.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Trainspotting

Choose us. Choose life. Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting on a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fuckin junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total fuckin embarrassment tae the selfish, fucked-up brats ye’ve produced. Choose life.

All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

All the King's Men

Set in the 1930s, this is a novel on American politics. It traces the rise and fall of Willie Stark, who resembles the real-life Huey 'Kingfish' Long of Louisiana. Stark begins his political career as an idealistic man of the people but soon becomes corrupted by success.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary

Castigated for offending against public decency, Madame Bovary has rarely failed to cause a storm. For Flaubert's contemporaries, the fascination came from the novelist's meticulous account of provincial matters. For the writer, subject matter was subordinate to his anguished quest for aesthetic perfection. For his twentieth-century successors the formal experiments that underpin Madame Bovary look forward to the innovations of contemporary fiction. Flaubert's protagonist in particular has never ceased to fascinate. Romantic heroine or middle-class neurotic, flawed wife and mother or passionate protester against the conventions of bourgeois society, simultaneously the subject of Flaubert's admiration and the butt of his irony - Emma Bovary remains one of the most enigmatic of fictional creations. Flaubert's meticulous approach to the craft of fiction, his portrayal of contemporary reality, his representation of an unforgettable cast of characters make Madame Bovary one of the major landmarks of modern fiction.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune

The epic story of the planet Arrakis, its Atreides rulers and their mortal enemies the Harkonnens is the finest, most widely acclaimed and enduring science fiction novel of this century. Huge in scope, towering in concept, it is a work that will live on in the reader's imagination.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Survivor, genius, perfumer, killer: this is Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. He is abandoned on the filthy streets of Paris as a child, but grows up to discover he has an extraordinary gift: a sense of smell more powerful than any other human's. Soon, he is creating the most sublime fragrances in all the city. Yet there is one odour he cannot capture.

The Beach by Alex Garland

The Beach

Richard, backpacking around the globe in the great tradition of cheap travel, finds himself bedding down in Khao San Road, Bangkok. But his chance to rest briefly is suddenly and irrevocably destroyed when a perfect stranger called Mister Duck is killed in the room next door. Mister Duck had a secret - now it's Richard's. Armed with a map - and a name of great mystery and legend that possesses a simple majesty: Beach - our protagonist goes in search of a traveller's dream, a place where there are lots of drugs and a tolerant society that works together to maintain a life of inner peace and tranquillity. Only a select few will make it to the blissful seclusion of the Beach (Mister Duck, for one, has died) but in the great tradition of travelling bravado, or sheer stupidity, Richard decides to give it a go . . .

Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore

Lorna Doone

Lorna Doone, a Romance of Exmoor is an historical novel of high adventure set in the South West of England during the turbulent time of Monmouth's rebellion (1685). It is also a moving love story told through the life of the young farmer John Ridd, as he grows to manhood determined to right the wrongs in his land, and to win the heart and hand of the beautiful Lorna Doone.

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood and Kevin's horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her absent husband, Franklyn. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

The Bridge of San Luis Rey

An ancient bridge collapses over a gorge in Peru, hurling five people into the abyss. It seems a meaningless human tragedy. But one witness, a Franciscan monk, believes the deaths might not be as random as they appear. Convinced that the disaster is a punishment sent from Heaven, the monk sets out to discover all he can about the travellers.

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

Under the Volcano

It is the Day of the Dead. The fiesta in full swing. In the shadow of Popocatepeti ragged children beg coins to buy skulls made of chocolate, and the ugly pariah dogs roam the streets. Geoffrey Firmin, HM ex-consul, is drowning himself in liquor and Mescal, while his ex-wife and half brother look on powerless to help him.

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

The Caine Mutiny

A compelling psychological study of men at war.

Scoop: A Novel About Journalists by Evelyn Waugh

Scoop: A Novel About Journalists

Lord Copper, newspaper magnate and proprietor of the 'Daily Beast', has always prided himself on his intuitive flair for spotting ace reporters. That is not to say he has not made the odd blunder, however, and may in a moment of weakness make another.

The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

The Riddle of the Sands

The classic espionage thriller about two men on a yachting holiday discovering a secret German naval base and an enemy armada with plans to invade England.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture The Castle

Cassandra Mortmain lives with her impoverished family in a crumbling castle. Her journal records her life with her bored sister Rose, her stepmother Topaz, her little brother Thomas and her novelist father who suffers from a financially crippling writer's block. However, all their lives are turned upside down when American heirs to castle arrive.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables

Peopled by colourful characters from the nineteenth-century Parisian underworld; the street children, the prostitutes and the criminals, this novel tells the story of an escaped convict Jean Valjean, and his efforts to reform his ways and care for the little orphan girl he rescues from a life of cruelty.

Deliverance by James Dickey

Deliverance

'I don't believe I'd go there if I was you. What's the use of it?' 'Because it's there,' said Lewis. 'It's there, all right. If you git in there and can't get out, you're goin' to wish it wudn't.' A group of middle-aged friends in search of the wilderness experience that has been missing from their big-city lives go canoeing one weekend. They pack all the usual survival gear - plus a banjo and a bow and arrow - and head off. Unskilled and naive, they paddle downstream, enjoying the exercise and the gorgeous scenery. But something is in the air. There are small signs at first: their canoes hit sudden rapids, the river seems polluted with litter and bird feathers, and during the night their tent is punctured by the talons of a hunting owl. Then, the following day, after mooring their canoes by the woods, they are approached by two sinister men. One is carrying a shotgun and the other a knife...;

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

The Power and the Glory

During a vicious persecution of the clergy in Mexico, a worldly priest, the 'whisky priest', is on the run. With the police closing in, his routes of escape are being shut off, his chances getting fewer. But compassion and humanity force him along the road to his destiny, reluctant to abandon those who need him, and those he cares for.

The Colour of Magic: The First Discworld Novel by Terry Pratchett

The Colour of Magic: The First  Discworld Novel

On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There's an avaricious buy inept wizard, a naïve tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist ifyou believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet...

The Famished Road by Ben Okri

The Famished Road

Azaro is a spirit child who is born only to live for a short while before returning to the idyllic world of his spirit companions. Now he has chosen to stay in the world of the living.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Housekeeping

Acclaimed on publication as a contemporary classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and Lucille, orphansgrowing up in the small desolate town of Fingerbone in the vast northwest of America. Abandoned by a succession of relatives, the sisters find themselves in the care of Sylvie, the remote and enigmatic sister of their dead mother. Steeped in imagery of the bleak wintry landscape around them, the sisters' struggle towards adulthood is powerfully portrayed in a novel about loss, loneliness and transience.

The Sound And The Fury by William Faulkner

The Sound And The Fury

Depicting the gradual disintegration of the Compson family through four fractured narratives, this title explores passionate family relationships where there is no love, only self-centredness. It is about lovelessness - 'only an idiot has no grief; only a fool would forget it. What else is there in this world sharp enough to stick to your guts?'

Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie

Foreign Affairs

A Pulitzer Prize-winning story which is both a comedy and a poignant love story about two American academics in London. The separate paths of these two lonely and naive innocents abroad lead them to strikingly similar destinations of new-found passion, and unexpected love.

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford

The Good Soldier

The Good Soldier is a masterpiece of twentieth-century fiction, an inspiration for many later, distinguished writers, including Graham Greene. Set before the First World War, it tells the tale of two wealthy and sophisticated couples, one English, one American, as they travel, socialise, and take the waters in the spa towns of Europe. They are 'playing the game, in style. That game has begun to unravel, however, and with compelling attention to the comic, as well as the tragic, results the American narrator reveals his growing awareness of the sexual intrigues and emotional betrayals that lie behind its fa ade.

Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock

Nightmare Abbey

This 1818 novel is set in a former abbey whose owner, Christopher Glowry, is host to visitors who enjoy his hospitality and engage in endless debate. Among these guests are figures recognizable to Peacock's contemporaries, including characters based on Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Mr. Glowry's son Scythrop (also modeled on a famous Romantic, Peacock's friend Percy Bysshe Shelley) locks himself up in a tower where he reads German tragedies and transcendental philosophy and develops a "passion for reforming the world." Disappointed in love, a sorrowful Scythrop decides the only thing to do is to commit suicide, but circumstances persuade him to instead follow his father in a love of misanthropy and Madeira. In addition to satire and comic romance, Nightmare Abbey presents a biting critique of the texts we view as central to British romanticism. This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and a range of illuminating contemporary documents on the novel's reception and its German and British literary contexts. A selection of Peacock's critical and autobiographical writings is also included.

U.S.A. by John Dos Passos

U.S.A.

Uses 'camera eye' and 'newsreel' sections to create a fragmented atmosphere. Through the testimony of numerous characters, both fictional and historical figures, the author builds up a composite picture of American society in the first quarter of the 20th century.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Call of the Wild

Published in 1903, this title is London's most-read book, and it is generally considered one of his best works. The protagonist is a dog. Several films based on this novel have been produced.

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropistsis a classic representation of the impoverished and politically powerless underclass of British society in Edwardian England, ruthlessly exploited by the institutionalized corruption of their employers and the civic and religious authorities. Epic in scale, the novel charts the ruinous effects of the laissez-faire mercantilist ethics on the men, women, and children of the working classes, and through its emblematic characters, argues for a socialist politics as the only hope for a civilized and humane life for all. It is a timeless work whose political message is as relevant today as it was in Tressell's time. For this it has long been honoured by the Trade Union movement and thinkers across the political spectrum.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula

When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes a series of horrific discoveries about his client. Soon after wards, various bizarre incidents unfold in England: an apparently unmanned ship is wrecked off the coast of Whitby and a young woman discovers strange puncture marks on her neck.

The Far Pavilions by Mary Margaret Kaye

The Far Pavilions

A novel set in India at the time of mutiny. It tells of a story of 19th Century India, when the thin patina of English rule held down dangerously turbulent undercurrents. It also tells of a story about an English man - Ashton Pelham-Martyn - brought up as a Hindu and his passionate, but dangerous love for an Indian princess.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

On Beauty

Why do we fall in love with the people we do? Why do we visit our mistakes on our children? What makes life truly beautiful? Set in New England mainly and London partly, On Beauty concerns a pair of feuding families - the Belseys and the Kipps - and a clutch of doomed affairs. It puts low morals among high ideals and asks some searching questions about what life does to love. For the Belseys and the Kipps, the confusions - both personal and political - of our uncertain age are about to be brought close to home: right to the heart of family.

Call it Sleep by Henry Roth

Call it Sleep

David Schearl arrives in New York in his mother's arms to begin his new life as an immigrant. David is hated by his father, but is fiercely loved and protected by his Yiddish-speaking mother. This novel interweaves the love between a mother and son with the terrors and anxieties David experiences, as he seeks to find his own identity.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter

Sin, past and present, and the human condition, explored in the context of self-identity and the norms of society, form the basis for this longstanding international classic."It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates."

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

The Pursuit of Love

Longing for love, obsessed with weddings and sex, Linda and her sisters and cousin Fanny are on the look out for the perfect lover. But finding Mr Right is much harder than any of the sisters thought. Linda must suffer marriage first to a stuffy Tory MP and then to a handsome and humorousless communist before finding real love in war-torn Paris.

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge

Set against the backdrop of peaceful south-west England, where Thomas Hardy spent much of his youth, The Mayor of Casterbridge captures the author's unique genius for depicting the absurdity underlying much of the sorrow and humor in our lives. Michael Henchard is an out-of-work hay-trusser who gets drunk at a local fair and impulsively sells his wife Susan and baby daughter. Eighteen years later Susan and her daughter seek him out, only to discover that he has become the most prominent man in Casterbridge. Henchard attempts to make amends for his youthful misdeeds but his unchanged impulsiveness clouds his relationships in love as well as his fortunes in business. Although Henchard is fated to be a modern-day tragic hero, unable to survive in the new commercial world, his story is also a journey towards love. This edition is the only critically established text of the novel, based on a comprehensive study of the manuscript and Hardy's extensive revisions.

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

True History of the Kelly Gang

In 1878 Francis Harty, a poor farmer, said, 'Ned Kelly is the best bloody man that has ever been in Benalla, I would fight up to my knees in blood for him - I have known him for years, I would take his word sooner than another man's oath'. By the time of his hanging in 1880 a whole country would seem to agree.

Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

Tom Jones

"The complete and unexpurgated history of a young man of strong natural impulses, a good disposition, and no overpowering sense of morality. Fielding planned it as a 'Comic Epic,' and built the plot with care, a plot turning on the recognition of Jones's birth and on the fortunes of his love for an adorable girl. Life in the country and town in the year 1745, with a great crowd of characters of all sorts and conditions....Of the highest importance in the history of literature, as indicating the lines on which the modern novel of manners was to be written." Baker. Guide to the Best Fiction.

Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson

Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady

A rakish city gentleman determines to seduce the youngest daughter of the Harlowe household in this eighteenth-century romance

History of the Rain by Niall Williams

History of the Rain

We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. In Faha, County Clare, everyone is a long story... Bedbound in her attic room beneath the falling rain, in the margin between this world and the next, Plain Ruth Swain is in search of her father. To find him, enfolded in the mystery of ancestors, Ruthie must first trace the jutting jaw lines, narrow faces and gleamy skin of the Swains from the restless Reverend Swain, her great-grandfather, to grandfather Abraham, to her father, Virgil - via pole-vaulting, leaping salmon, poetry and the three thousand, nine hundred and fifty eight books piled high beneath the two skylights in her room, beneath the rain. The stories - of her golden twin brother Aeney, their closeness even as he slips away; of their dogged pursuit of the Swains' Impossible Standard and forever falling just short; of the wild, rain-sodden history of fourteen acres of the worst farming land in Ireland - pour forth in Ruthie's still, small, strong, hopeful voice. A celebration of books, love and the healing power of the imagination, this is an exquisite, funny, moving novel in which every sentence sings.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness

Reflects the savage repressions carried out in the Congo by the Belgians in one of the largest acts of genocide committed up to that time.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day

In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside and into his past.

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

An American Tragedy

The author's classic vision of the dark side of American life looks at the failings of the American dream, in the story of the rise and fall of Clyde Griffiths, who sacrifices everything in his desperate quest for success. Reissue.

A House for Mr Biswas by V. S. Naipaul

A House for Mr Biswas

It is a story of Mr. Biswas's struggle for independence, but more importantly, it is his fight for dignity and a life with meaning. A House for Mr. Biswas is touted as Naipaul's finest novel.

The Sportswriter by Richard Ford

The Sportswriter

Frank Bascombe has a younger girlfriend and a job as a sportswriter. To many men of his age, thirty-eight, this would be a cause for optimism, yet Frank feels the pull of his inner despair and especially of his recent losses - his preferred career has ended, his wife has divorced him, and a tragic accident took his elder son. In the course of this Easter weekend, Frank will lose all the remnants of his familiar life, though he will emerge heroic with spirits soaring. This is a magnificent novel that propelled Richard Ford into the first rank of American writers.

Lonesome Dove by Larry Mcmurtry

Lonesome Dove

It begins in the office of The Hat Creek Cattle Company of the Rio Grande. It ends as a journey into the heart of every adventurer who ever lived . . . From the author of The Last Picture Showand Texasville here is Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece. A powerful, triumphant portrayal of the American West as it really was. More than a love story, more than an adventure, Lonesome Dove is an epic: a monumental novel which embraces the spirit of the last defiant wilderness of America. Legend and fact, heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers Lonesome Doveis the central, enduring American experience dramatically recreated in a magnificent story of heroism and love; of honour, loyalty and betrayal.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Lucy has stumbled upon a land of fauns and centaurs, nymphs and talking animals, all behind a wardrobe. Narnia is ruled by the cruel White Witch, and can only be freed by Aslan, the great lion and four children.

Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

Charlotte's Web

Presents the tale of how a little girl named Fern, with the help of a friendly spider, saved her pig Wilbur from the usual fate of nice fat little pigs.

Staying On by Paul Scott

Staying On

Tusker and Lily Smalley stayed on in India. Given the chance to return 'home' when Tusker, once a Colonel in the British Army, retired, they chose instead to remain in the small hill town of Pangkot, with its eccentric inhabitants and archaic rituals left over from the days of the Empire.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half of a Yellow Sun

In 1960s Nigeria, a country blighted by civil war, three lives intersect. Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s masterpiece, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, is a novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race – and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.

Clockwork Orange. by Anthony Burgess

Clockwork Orange.

In this nightmare vision of a not-too-distant future, fifteen-year-old Alex and his three friends rob, rape, torture and murder - for fun. Alex is jailed for his vicious crimes and the State undertakes to reform him - but how and at what cost?

Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

Naked Lunch

The anarchic, phenomenally strong-sellling classic from the godfather of the Beats. Welcome to Interzone… Say hello to Bradley the Buyer, the best narcotics agent in the business. Attend international playboy A.J.’s annual party, where the punch is to be treated with extreme caution. Meet Dr ‘Fingers’ Schafer, the Lobotomy Kid and his giant centipede, ‘The Complete American De-anxietized Man.’ And enter the dark and infernal mind of Bill Lee as he pursues his daily quest for the ultimate merchandise… Provocative, influential, morbidly fascinating, ‘Naked Lunch’ is an apocalyptic ride through the darker recesses of the human psyche.

White Noise by Don DeLillo

White Noise

A brilliantly black and funny novel about humanity's greatest fear - death

Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor

Andersonville

In 1864, thirty-three thousand Yankee prisoners of war suffer the horrors of imprisonment at the Confederate prison of Andersonville

Lanark: A Life in Four Books by Alasdair Gray

Lanark: A Life in Four Books

Set in the disintegrating cities of Unthank and Glasgow, this book tells the interwoven stories of Lanark and Duncan Thaw, while offering a modern vision of hell. Its playful narrative techniques intend to convey a profound message, both personal and political, about humankind's inability to love, and yet our compulsion to go on trying.

The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass

The Tin Drum

To mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of this classic, a new translation of the Nobel Prize winner's story is offered, which includes a huge cast of intriguing characters, including Oskar Matzerath, the indomitable drummer; his family; Oskar's midget friends Bebra and Roswitha Raguna; and more. Reprint.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace

This epic novel is centred on Napoleon's war with Russia. It expresses Tolstoy's view that history is an inexorable process which man cannot influence. Three of the characters, Natasha Rostov, Prince Andrew Bolkonsky and Pierre Bezukhov illustrate Tolstoy's philosophy.

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery

The Little Prince

This parable tells the story of an air pilot who meets a Little Prince when he has to make a forced landing in the Sahara Desert. The Little Prince tells him wise and enchanted stories.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

When Harold Fry leaves home one morning to post a letter, with his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else's life.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying

Successive episodes in the death and burial of Addie Bundren are recounted by various members of the family circle, principally as they are carting their mother's coffin to Jefferson, Mississippi, in order to bury her among her people.

Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine

Journey to the End of the Night

First published in 1932, Journey to the End of the Night was immediately acclaimed as a masterpiece and a turning point in French literature. This edition contains a foreword by John Banville. Told in the first person, the novel is based on the author's own experiences during the First World War, in French colonial Africa, in the USA - where he worked for a while at the Ford factory in Detroit - and later as a young doctor in a working-class suburb in Paris. Celine's disgust with human folly, malice, greed and the chaotic state in which man has left society lies behind the bitterness that distinguishes his idiosyncratic, colloquial and visionary writing and gives it its force.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times", "It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known" - so the novel begins and ends with some of Dicken's best-known words, and between the two is every Briton's view of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

A novel of irreconcilable loves and infidelities, which embraces all aspects of human existence, and addresses the nature of twentieth-century 'Being'.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Alex Leamas is tired. Its the 1960s, hes been out in the cold for years, spying in Berlin for his British masters, and has seen too many good agents murdered for their troubles. Now Control wants to bring him in at last but only after one final assignment. He must travel deep into the heart of Communist Germany and betray his country, a job that he will do with his usual cynical professionalism. But when George Smiley tries to help a young woman Leamas has befriended, Leamass mission may prove to be the worst thing he could ever have done. In le Carrés breakthrough work of 1963, the spy story is reborn as a gritty and terrible tale of men who are caught up in politics beyond their imagining.

Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

Tristram Shandy

Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a huge literary paradox, for it is both a novel and an anti-novel. As a comic novel replete with bawdy humour and generous sentiments, it introduces us to a vivid group of memorable characters, variously eccentric, farcical and endearing. As an anti-novel, it is a deliberately tantalising and exuberantly egoistic work, ostentatiously digressive, involving the reader in the labyrinthine creation of a purported autobiography. This mercurial eighteenth-century text thus anticipates modernism and postmodernism. Vibrant and bizarre, Tristram Shandy provides an unforgettable experience. We may see why Nietzsche termed Sterne 'the most liberated spirit of all time'.

The Trial by Franz Kafka

The Trial

Presents a psychological trip into the life of one Joseph K, an ordinary man who wakes up one day to find himself accused of a crime he did not commit, a crime whose nature is never revealed to him. Once arrested, he is released, but must report to court on a regular basis-an event that proves maddening, as nothing is ever resolved.

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

The Pickwick Papers

The Pickwick Papers is Dickens' first novel and widely regarded as one of the major classics of comic writing in English. Originally serialised in monthly instalments, it quickly became a huge popular success with sales reaching 40,000 by the final number. In the century and a half since its first appearance, the characters of Mr Pickwick, Sam Weller and the whole of the Pickwickian crew have entered the consciousness of all who love English literature in general, and the works of Dickens in particular.

The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron

The Confessions of Nat Turner

Presents a fictionalized account of the 1831 slave revolt led by Nat Turner in Southampton County, Virginia.

Native Son by Richard Wright

Native Son

Follows Bigger Thomas, a young black man who is trapped in a life of poverty in the slums of Chicago. Unwittingly involved in a wealthy woman's death, he is hunted relentlessly, baited by prejudiced officials, charged with murder and driven to acknowledge a strange pride in his crime.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

White Teeth

White Teeth is a comic epic of multicultural Britain by one of the most exciting young writers of 2000. It tells the story of immigrants in England over a period of 40 years.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction from the author 'Wonder Boys'. 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' is a heart-wrenching story of escape, love and comic-book heroes set in Prague, New York and the Arctic.

The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge

The Bottle Factory Outing

Freda and Brenda spend their days working in an Italian-run wine-bottling factory. A work outing offers promise for Freda and terror from Brenda; passions run high on that chilly day of freedom, and life after the outing never returns to normal. Beryl Bainbridge will dazzle readers in this offbeat, haunting yet hilarious novel.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men

As drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other - and a dream that they will one day have some land of their own. Eventually, they find work on a ranch, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie becomes a victim of his own strength.

Disgrace by J M Coetzee

Disgrace

A divorced, middle-aged English professor finds himself increasingly unable to resist affairs with his female students. When discovered by the college authorities he is expected to apologize to save his job, but instead he refuses and resigns, retiring to live with his daughter on her remote farm.

The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

The French Lieutenant's Woman

Set in Lyme Regis in 1867, 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' tells the story of a woman wronged, depicted against an unrelenting Victorian England.

Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett

Malone Dies

On his deathbed, and wiling away the time with stories, the octogenarian Malone's account of his condition is intermittent and contradictory, shifting with the vagaries of the passing days: without mellowness, without elegiacs; wittier, jauntier, and capable of wilder rages than 'Molloy'. The sound I liked best had nothing noble about it.

The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hound Of The Baskervilles

The Baskerville family curse tells of how a terrifying hound roams the moors around Baskerville Hall and preys on members of the family in revenge for a crime committed by one of their ancestors. When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead in his grounds, with an animal footprint near his body, the locals are convinced that the hound is back.

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

Kim

This novel tells the story of Kimball O'Hara (Kim), who is the orphaned son of a soldier in the Irish regiment stationed in India during the British Raj. It describes Kim's life and adventures from street vagabond, to his adoption by his father's regiment and recruitment into espionage.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest

Somewhere in the not-so-distant future the residents of Ennet House, a Boston halfway house for recovering addicts, and students at the nearby Enfield Tennis Academy are ensnared in the search for the master copy of INFINITE JEST, a movie said to be so dangerously entertaining its viewers become entranced and expire in a state of catatonic bliss . . . 'Wallace's exuberance and intellectual impishness are a delight, and he has deep things to say about the hollowness of contemporary American pleasure . . . sentences and whole pages are marvels of cosmic concentration . . . Wallace is a superb comedian of culture'

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

Breathing Lessons

During the course of the journey, with its several unexpected detours - into the lives of old friends and grown children - the author shows us there is to know about a marriage: the expectations; the disappointments; the way children can create storms in a family; the way the wife and husband can fall in love all over again; and more.

A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul

A Bend in the River

The great novel of Africa from the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Bridget Jones's Diary: A Novel by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones's Diary: A Novel

In the course of the year recorded in Bridget Jones's Diary, Bridget confides her hopes, her dreams, and her monstrously fluctuating poundage, not to mention her consumption of 5277 cigarettes and "Fat units 3457 (approx.) (hideous in every way)." In 365 days, she gains 74 pounds. On the other hand, she loses 72! There is also the unspoken New Year's resolution--the quest for the right man. Alas, here Bridget goes severely off course when she has an affair with her charming cad of a boss. But who would be without their e-mail flirtation focused on a short black skirt? The boss even contends that it is so short as to be nonexistent. At the beginning of Helen Fielding's exceptionally funny second novel, the thirtyish publishing puffette is suffering from postholiday stress syndrome but determined to find Inner Peace and poise. Bridget will, for instance, "get up straight away when wake up in mornings." Now if only she can survive the party her mother has tricked her into--a suburban fest full of "Smug Marrieds" professing concern for her and her fellow "Singletons"--she'll have made a good start. As far as she's concerned, "We wouldn't rush up to them and roar, 'How's your marriage going? Still having sex?'" This is only the first of many disgraces Bridget will suffer in her year of performance anxiety (at work and at play, though less often in bed) and living through other people's "emotional fuckwittage." Her twin-set-wearing suburban mother, for instance, suddenly becomes a chat-show hostess and unrepentant adulteress, while our heroine herself spends half the time overdosing on Chardonnay and feeling like "a tragic freak." Bridget Jones's Diary began as a column in the London Independent and struck a chord with readers of all sexes and sizes. In strokes simultaneously broad and subtle, Helen Fielding reveals the lighter side of despair, self-doubt, and obsession, and also satirizes everything from self-help books (they don't sound half as sensible to Bridget when she's sober) to feng shui, Cosmopolitan-style. She is the Nancy Mitford of the 1990s, and it's impossible not to root for her endearing heroine. On the other hand, one can only hope that Bridget will continue to screw up and tell us all about it for years and books to come

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

The Corrections

The winner of the National Book Award, the New York Times No.1 Bestseller and the worldwide literary sensation, 'The Corrections' has established itself as a truly great American novel. It will be repackaged and promoted as part of Perennial's fiction promotion in 2008.

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Neuromancer

Neuromancer is the most influential science fiction novel of our time. Cyberspace and virtual reality were invented in this book. It changed forever the way we look at tomorrow and was the inspiration behind the blockbuster film The Matrix. In 2009 it celebrates its 25th Anniversary.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Wide Sargasso Sea

If Antoinette Cosway, a spirited Creole heiress, could have foreseen the terrible future that awaited her, she would not have married the young Englishman. Initially drawn to her beauty and sensuality, he becomes increasingly frustrated by his inability to reach into her soul.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries

It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky. The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. It is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. It is a thrilling achievement for someone still in her mid-20s, and will confirm for critics and readers that Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Book 1) by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Book 1)

Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him who's parents have been killed in a 'car crash'. He is bullied by them and his fat, spoilt cousin Dudley, and lives a very unremarkable life with only the odd hiccup (like his hair growing back overnight!) to cause him much to think about. That is until an owl turns up with a letter addressed to Harry and all hell breaks loose! He is literally rescued by a world where nothing is as it seems and magic lessons are the order of the day. Read and find out how Harry discovers his true heritage at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, the reason behind his parents mysterious death, who is out to kill him, and how he uncovers the most amazing secret of all time, the fabled Philosopher's Stone! All this and muggles too. Now, what are they?

Anna Karenina by L.N. Tolstoy

Anna Karenina

Presents the nineteenth-century Russian novelist's classic in which a young woman is destroyed when she attempts to live outside the moral law of her society

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist

Scathing in its indictment of a cruel society, and pervaded by an unforgettable sense of threat and mystery, this novel is peopled with some of memorable characters (the arch-villain Fagin, the artful Dodger, the menacing Bill Sikes and the prostitute Nancy). It combines the elements of Gothic Romance, the Newgate Novel and popular melodrama.

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Bring up the Bodies

The sequel to the Man Booker-winning Wolf Hall. ‘My boy Thomas, give him a dirty look and he’ll gouge your eye out. Trip him, and he’ll cut off your leg,’ says Walter Cromwell in the year 1500. ‘But if you don’t cut across him he’s a very gentleman. And he’ll stand anyone a drink.’ By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry’s actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line. When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as Henry falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king’s pleasure, but the safety of the nation. As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, its miasma of gossip, he must negotiate a ‘truth’ that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days. In ‘Bring up the Bodies’, sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning ‘Wolf Hall’, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn. This new novel is a speaking picture, an audacious vision of Tudor England that sheds its light on the modern world. It is the work of one of our great writers at the height of her powers.

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

The Golden Notebook

‘The Golden Notebook’, the landmark novel by Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing, is a powerful account of a woman searching for her personal, political and professional identity amid the trauma of emotional rejection and sexual betrayal. In 1950s London, novelist Anna Wulf struggles with writer’s block. Divorced with a young child, and fearful of going mad, Anna records her experiences in four coloured notebooks: black for her writing life, red for political views, yellow for emotions, blue for everyday events. But it is a fifth notebook – the golden notebook – that finally pulls these wayward strands of her life together. Widely regarded as Doris Lessing’s masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, ‘The Golden Notebook’ is wry and perceptive, bold and indispensable.

The Recognitions by William Gaddis

The Recognitions

Wyatt Gwyon's desire to forge is not driven by larceny but from love. Exactingly faithful to the spirit and letter of the Flemish masters, he produces uncannily accurate 'originals' - pictures the painters themselves might have envied.

Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow

Humboldt's Gift

For many years, the great poet Von Humboldt Fleisher and Charlie Citrine were the best of friends. At the time of his death, however, Humboldt is a failure, and Charlie's life has reached a low point. And then Humboldt acts from beyond the grave, bestowing upon Charlie an unexpected legacy that may just help him turn his life around.

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Kundera whirls through comedy and tragedy towards his central question: how does a person, any person, live today? In constructing his answer, he writes of politics, sex, literature, modern man's alienation - and of their antidotes: laughter and forgetting.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Love in the Time of Cholera

Fermina rebuffed Florentino Arizo and married Juvenal. Florentino has loved none but Fermina. Having sworn his love to her, he lives for the day when he can court her again. When Fermina's husband is killed, Florentino seizes his chance to declare his enduring love. But can young love find new life in the twilight of their lives?

The Assistant by Bernard Malamud

The Assistant

A struggling neighborhood Jewish grocer takes on a helper who falls in love with his daughter and steals from his store

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison's impassioned first novel, winner of the prestigious American National Book Award, tells the story of an invisible man 'simply because people refuse to see me'. Yet his powerfully depicted adventures go far beyond the story of one man.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God

When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds ...

LA Confidential by James Ellroy

LA Confidential

Los Angeles is a city where the police are as corrupt as the criminals. Six prisoners are beaten senseless in their cells by cops crazed on alcohol. For the three L A P D detectives involved, it will expose the guilty secrets on which they have built their corrupt and violent careers.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History

A misfit at an exclusive New England college, Richard finds kindred spirits in the five eccentric students of his ancient Greek class. But his new friends have a horrific secret. When blackmail and violence threaten to blow their privileged lives apart, they drag Richard into the nightmare that engulfs them.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

The Wasp Factory

Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outsIde a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank's mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric's escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother's inevitable return - an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly. Iain Banks' celebrated first novel is a work of extraordinary originality, imagination and horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are alien to our society; and compulsive, because the humour and compassion of that mind reach out to us all.

G by John Berger

G

In this luminous novel about a modern Don Juan, John Berger relates the story of G., a young man forging an energetic sexual career in Europe during the early years of the last century as Europe teeters on the brink of war. With profound compassion, Berger explores the hearts and minds of both men and women, and what happens during sex, to reveal the conditions of the libertine's success: his essential loneliness, the quiet cumulation in each of his sexual experiences of all of those that precede it, the tenderness that infuses even the briefest of his encounters, and the way women experience their own extraordinariness through their liaisons with him. Set against the turbulent backdrop of Garibaldi's attempt to unite Italy, the failed revolution of Milanese workers in 1898, the Boer War and the dramatic first flight across the Alps, G. is a brilliant novel about the search for intimacy in the turmoil of history.

The Crying Of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

The Crying Of Lot 49

Oedipa Maas discovers that she has been made executrix of a former lover's estate. The performance of her duties sets her on a strange trail of detection, in which bizarre characters crowd in to help or confuse her. But gradually, death, drugs, madness and marriage combine to leave Oepida in isolation.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex

'I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974 ...My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver's license ...records my first name simply as Cal.' So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Point, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

A Suitable Boy

Vikram Seth's novel is at its core a love story, the tale of Lata - and her mother's attempts to find her a suitable husband, through love or through exacting maternal appraisal. Set in post-Independence India and involving the lives of four large families and those who orbit them, it is also a vast panoramic exploration of a whole continent at a crucial hour as a sixth of the world's population faces its first great General Election and the chance to map its own destiny. 'A SUITABLE BOY may prove to be the most fecund as well as the most prodigious work of the latter half of this century - perhaps even the book to restore the serious reading public's faith in the contemporary novel ... You should make time for it. It will keep you company for the rest of your life' Daniel Johnson, The Times

Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Go Tell it on the Mountain

"Nothing but the darkness, and all around them destruction, and before them nothing but the fire--a bastard people, far from God, singing and crying in the wilderness!" First published in 1953, Baldwin's first novel is a short but intense, semi-autobiographical exploration of the troubled life of the Grimes family in Harlem during the Depression.

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

Red Harvest

The Continental Op first heard Personville called Poisonville by Hickey Dewey. But since Dewey also called a shirt a shoit, he didn't think anything of it. Until he went there and his client, the only honest man in Poisonville, was murdered. Then the Op decided to stay to punish the guilty. And that meant taking on the entire town...

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

Daniel Deronda

George Eliot's final novel, Daniel Deronda (1876), follows the intertwining lives of the beautiful but spoiled and selfish Gwendolene Harleth and the selfless yet alienated Daniel Deronda, as they search for personal and vocational fulfilment and sympathetic relationship. Set largely in the degenerate English aristocratic society of the 1860s, Daniel Deronda charts their search for meaningful lives against a background of imperialism, the oppression of women, and racial and religious prejudice. Gwendolen's attempts to escape a sadistic relationship and atone for past actions catalyse her friendship with Deronda, while his search for origins leads him, via Judaism, to a quest for moral growth. Eliot's radical dual narrative constantly challenges all solutions and ensures that the novel is as controversial now, as when it first appeared.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

The complex moral ambiguities of seduction and revenge make Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782) one of the most scandalous and controversial novels in European literature. Its prime movers, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil--gifted, wealthy, and bored--form an unholy alliance and turn seduction into a game. And they play this game with such wit and style that it is impossible not to admire them, until they discover mysterious rules that they cannot understand. In the ensuing battle there can be no winners, and the innocent suffer with the guilty. This new translation gives Laclos a modern voice, and readers will be able to judge whether the novel is as "diabolical" and "infamous" as its critics have claimed, or whether it has much to tell us about a world we still inhabit. Douglas Parmee is Retired Fellow of Queen's College, Cambridge. He is the translator of Nana, Attack on the Mill (Zola) and A Sentimental Journey (Flaubert) for World's Classics. David Coward is Professor of French at the University of Leeds. He is the translator and editor of Maupassant, de Sade, and Dumas in World's Classics.

Nostromo by Joseph Conrad

Nostromo

Nostromo is the only man capable of the decisive action needed to save the silver of the San Tome mine and secure independence for Sulaco, Occidental province of the Latin American state of Costaguana. Is his integrity as unassailable as everyone believes, or will his ideals, like those which have inspired the struggling state itself, buckle under economic and political pressures? Nostromo is an extraordinary illustration of the impact of foreign commercial exploits on a young developing nation, and the problems of reconciling individual identity with a social role.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield

When David Copperfield escapes from the cruelty of his childhood home, he embarks on a journey to adulthood which will lead him through comedy and tragedy, love and heartbreak and friendship and betrayal.

The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master And Margarita

The devil comes to Moscow wearing a fancy suit. With his disorderly band of accomplices - including a demonic, gun-toting tomcat - he immediately begins to create havoc. Margarita discovers that her lover has vanished in the chaos. Making a bargain with the devil, she decides to try a little black magic of her own to save the man she loves.

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds

The night after a shooting star is seen streaking through the sky from Mars, a cylinder is discovered on Horsell Common in London. At first, naive locals approach the cylinder armed just with a white flag only to be quickly killed by an all-destroying heat-ray, as terrifying tentacled invaders emerge.

At Swim-two-birds by Flann O'Brien

At Swim-two-birds

The undergraduate narrator lives with his uncle in Dublin, drinks too much with his friends and invents stories peopled with hilarious and unlikely characters, one of whom, creates a means by which women can give birth to full-grown people.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Birdsong

Set before and during the great war, Birdsong captures the drama of that era on both a national and a personal scale. It is the story of Stephen, a young Englishman, who arrives in Amiens in 1910. His life goes through a series of traumatic experiences, from the clandestine love affair that tears apart the family with whom he lives, to the unprecedented experiences of the war itself.

Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder by Evelyn Waugh

Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder

Evelyn Waugh's most celebrated novel is a memory drama about the intense entanglement of the narrator, Charles Ryder, with a great Anglo-Catholic family. Written during World War II, the novel mourns the passing of the aristocratic world Waugh knew in his youth and vividly recalls the sensuous plea?sures denied him by wartime austerities; in so doing it also provides a profound study of the conflict between the demands of religion and the desires of the flesh. At once romantic, sensuous, comic, and somber, "Brideshead Revisited" transcends Waugh's familiar satiric exploration of his cast of lords and ladies, Catholics and eccentrics, artists and misfits, revealing him to be an elegiac, lyrical novelist of the utmost feeling and lucidity.

The Day Of The Jackal by Frederick Forsyth

The Day Of The Jackal

Presents the story of an anonymous Englishman who, in the spring of 1963, was hired by Colonel Marc Rodin, Operations Chief of the OAS, to assassinate General de Gaulle.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front

One by one the boys begin to fall... In 1914 a room full of German schoolboys, fresh-faced and idealistic, are goaded by their schoolmaster to troop off to the 'glorious war'. With the fire and patriotism of youth they sign up. What follows is the moving story of a young 'unknown soldier' experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches.

The Gathering by Anne Enright

The Gathering

The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother Liam. It wasn't the drink that killed him - it was what happened to him as a boy in his grandmother's house, in the winter of 1968. This novel is about love and disappointment, about thwarted lust and limitless desire.

A Dance to the Music of Time: vol.1: Spring by Anthony Powell

A Dance to the Music of Time: vol.1: Spring

Anthony Powell's brilliant twelve-novel sequence chronicles the lives of over three hundred characters, and is a unique evocation of life in twentieth-century England. It is unrivalled for its scope, its humour and the enormous pleasure it has given to generations. These first three novels in the sequence follow Nicholas Jenkins, Kenneth Widmerpool and others, as they negotiate the intellectual, cultural and social hurdles which stand between them and the 'Acceptance World'.

The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski

The Painted Bird

When the war separates a youth from his parents, he begins a terrible odyssey of suffering as he wanders from village to village.

The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

The Magnificent Ambersons

The lives and changing fortunes of 3 generations of a once-powerful and socially prominent family are chronicled in this vivid tale of the corrupting influence of greed and materialism. As the wheels of industry and commerce rapidly usher in the early 20th century, ambition, success, loyalty, prominence and prestige for the Amberson family forever changes.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Gilead

From the author of Housekeeping, Gilead is the long-hoped- for second novel by one of America's finest writers. Chosen by the New York Times Book Review as one of the top 6 novels of 2004. 'A beautiful novel: wise, tender and perfectly measured' Sarah Wate

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas

A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagans California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified dinery server on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation the narrators of CLOUD ATLAS hear each others echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small. In his extraordinary third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity's dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

The BFG by Roald Dahl

The BFG

The Big Friendly Giant is one of Dahls most lovable characters. Whether galloping off with Sophie nestled next to his ear; speaking his delightful, jumbled, squib-fangled patois; or whizzpopping for the Queen, he leaves an indelible impression of bigheartedness.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Cold Comfort Farm

When sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at nineteen, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex. At the aptly named Cold Comfort Farm, she meets the doomed Starkadders: cousin Judith; Amos; their sons, Seth and Reuben; and Aunt Ada Doom. But Flora loves nothing better than to organize other people.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

The Day of the Triffids

When Bill Masen wakes up blindfolded in hospital there is a bitter irony in his situation. Carefully removing his bandages, he realizes that he is the only person who can see: everyone else, doctors and patients alike, have been blinded by a meteor shower. Now, with civilization in chaos, the triffids - huge, venomous, large-rooted plants able to 'walk', feeding on human flesh - can have their day. The Day of the Triffids, published in 1951, expresses many of the political concerns of its time: the Cold War, the fear of biological experimentation and the man-made apocalypse. However, with its terrifyingly believable insights into the genetic modification of plants, the book is more relevant today than ever before.Contains an introduction by Barry Langford.

Silas Marner by George Eliot

Silas Marner

Falsely accused of theft and cast out by the religious community of which he was a member, Silas Marner leaves his home and settles in Raveloe, where he leads a solitary existence as a weaver. Marner's work is in great demand, and the wealth that he accumulates becomes his consolation for all that he has lost; but when Dunstan Cass, one of the squire's sons, steals Marner's money the weaver loses his only remaining reason for living. However, one winter night, a little girl wanders into Marner's cottage out of the snow, and the weaver's life is changed for ever.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

Gravity's Rainbow

Tyrone Slothrop, a GI in London in 1944, has a big problem. Whenever he gets an erection, a Blitz bomb hits. Slothrop gets excited, and then, 'a screaming comes across the sky,' heralding an angel of death, a V-2 rocket. Soon Tyrone is on the run from legions of bizarre enemies through the phantasmagoric horrors of Germany.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

Revolutionary Road

Tells the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple whose empty suburban life is held together by the dream that greatness is only just round the corner. The author shows how Frank and April mortgage their hopes and ideals, betraying in the end not only each other, but their own best selves.

Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra

Don Quixote

Cervantes' tale of the deranged gentleman who turns knight-errant, tilts at windmills and battles with sheep in the service of the lady of his dreams, Dulcinea del Toboso, has fascinated generations of readers, and inspired other creative artists such as Flaubert, Picasso and Richard Strauss. The tall, thin knight and his short, fat squire, Sancho Panza, have found their way into films, cartoons and even computer games. Supposedly intended as a parody of the most popular escapist fiction of the day, the 'books of chivalry', this precursor of the modern novel broadened and deepened into a sophisticated, comic account of the contradictions of human nature. Cervantes' greatest work can be enjoyed on many levels, all suffused with a subtle irony that reaches out to encompass the reader.

Sybil: or The Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli

Sybil: or The Two Nations

Disraeli vividly depicts the appalling conditions of the poor - their pitiful wages, their miserably overcrowded tenements, and thier exploitation by the new breed of powerful industrialists - as an indirect plea for social and political reform and for the fulfilment of his dream of a new, more democratic England.