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  1. Cathedral

    by Raymond Carver
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟢
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    Readership: Very niche

    Raymond Carver’s third collection of stories, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, including the canonical titular story about blindness and learning to enter the very different world of another. These twelve stories mark a turning point in Carver’s career and “overflow with the danger, excitement, mystery and possibility of life. . . . Carver is a writer of astonishing compassion and honesty. . . . his eye set only on describing and revealing the world as he sees it. His eye is so clear, it almost breaks your heart” (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World ). From the … (Goodreads)

  2. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?

    by Raymond Carver
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟢
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    Readership: Very niche

    With this, his first collection, Carver breathed new life into the short story. In the pared-down style that has since become his hallmark, Carver showed us how humour and tragedy dwelt in the hearts of ordinary people, and won a readership that grew with every subsequent brilliant collection of stories, poems and essays that appeared in the last eleven years of his life. … (Goodreads)

  3. Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories

    by Raymond Carver
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    Readership: Very niche

    By the time of his early death in 1988, Raymond Carver had established himself as one of the greatest practitioners of the American short story, a writer who had not only found his own voice but imprinted it in the imaginations of thousands of readers. 'Where I'm Calling From', his last collection, encompasses classic stories from 'Cathedral', 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love' and earlier Carver volumes, along with seven new works previosly unpublished in book form. Together, these 37 stories give us a superb overview of Carver's life work and show us why he was so … (Goodreads)

  4. Nine Stories

    by J.D. Salinger
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    Nine Stories (1953) is a collection of short stories by American fiction writer J. D. Salinger published in April 1953. It includes two of his most famous short stories, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" and "For Esmé – with Love and Squalor". (Nine Stories is the U.S. title; the book is published in many other countries as For Esmé - with Love and Squalor, and Other Stories.) The stories are: "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut" "Just Before the War with the Eskimos" "The Laughing Man" "Down at the Dinghy" "For Esmé – with Love and Squalor" … (Goodreads)

  5. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

    by Ernest Hemingway
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    Readership: Very niche

    THE ONLY COMPLETE COLLECTION BY THE NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR In this definitive collection of Ernest Hemingway's short stories, readers will delight in the author's most beloved classics such as "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," "Hills Like White Elephants," and "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," and will discover seven new tales published for the first time in this collection. For Hemingway fans The Complete Short Stories is an invaluable treasury. … (Goodreads)

  6. Franny and Zooey

    by J.D. Salinger
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    The short story concerns Franny's weekend date with her collegiate boyfriend, Lane Coutell. Lane takes her to a fashionable lunch room, where Franny quickly becomes exasperated when he only appears interested in conversing about the minutiae of his academic frustrations. Franny questions the importance of college education and the worth of Lane's friends. She eats nothing, feels faint, and becomes progressively more uncomfortable talking to Lane. Eventually she excuses herself to visit the restroom, where, after a crying spell, she regains her composure. She returns to the table, where Lane questions her on the small book she has been carrying. … (Wikipedia)

  7. The Stories of John Cheever

    by John Cheever
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    Readership: Very niche

    Here are sixty-one stories that chronicle the lives of what has been called "the greatest generation." From the early wonder and disillusionment of city life in "The Enormous Radio" to the surprising discoveries and common mysteries of suburbia in "The Housebreaker of Shady Hill" and "The Swimmer," Cheever tells us everything we need to know about "the pain and sweetness of life." Goodbye, my brother -- The common day -- The enormous radio -- O city of broken dreams -- The Hartleys -- The Sutton Place story -- The summer farmer -- Torch song -- The pot of gold -- … (Goodreads)

  8. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

    by Michael Chabon
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    The novel begins in 1939 with the arrival of 19-year-old Josef "Joe" Kavalier as a refugee in New York City , where he comes to live with his 17-year-old cousin, Sammy Klayman. With the help of his mentor, Kornblum, Joe escapes Nazi-occupied Prague by hiding in a coffin. Joe leaves behind the rest of his family, including his younger brother Thomas. As the novel develops, both Joe and Sammy find their creative niches, one entrepreneurial, the other's artistic. Beyond having a shared interest in drawing, the duo share several connections to Jewish stage magician Harry Houdini : Josef (like comics … (Wikipedia)

  9. Heart of Darkness

    by Joseph Conrad
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    Readership: Popular

    Aboard the Nellie , anchored in the River Thames near Gravesend , Charles Marlow tells his fellow sailors how he became captain of a river steamboat for an ivory trading company. As a child, Marlow had been fascinated by "the blank spaces" on maps, particularly by the biggest, which by the time he had grown up was no longer blank but turned into "a place of darkness". Yet there remained a big river, "resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country and its tail lost in the … (Wikipedia)

  10. East of Eden

    by John Steinbeck
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    Readership: Popular

    In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden “the first book,” and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Adam Trask came to California from the East to farm and raise his family on the new rich land. But the birth of his twins, Cal and Aaron, brings his wife … (Goodreads)

  11. Ulysses

    by James Joyce
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    It is 8 a.m. Buck Mulligan , a boisterous medical student, calls Stephen Dedalus (a young writer encountered as the principal subject of ,A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ) up to the roof of the Sandycove Martello tower , where they both live. There is tension between Stephen and Mulligan, stemming from a cruel remark Stephen overheard Mulligan make about his recently deceased mother, May Dedalus , and from the fact that Mulligan has invited an English student, Haines , to stay with them. The three men eat breakfast and walk to the shore, where Mulligan … (Wikipedia)

  12. The Unbearable Lightness of Being

    by Milan Kundera
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    Readership: Popular

    In The Unbearable Lightness of Being , Milan Kundera tells the story of a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover. This magnificent novel juxtaposes geographically distant places, brilliant and playful reflections, and a variety of styles, to take its place as perhaps the major achievement of one of the world’s truly great writers. … (Goodreads)

  13. The Trial

    by Franz Kafka
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    On the morning of his thirtieth birthday, Josef K., the chief cashier of a bank, is unexpectedly arrested by two unidentified agents from an unspecified agency for an unspecified crime. Josef is not imprisoned, however, but left "free" and told to await instructions from the Committee of Affairs. Josef's landlady, Frau Grubach, tries to console Josef about the trial, but insinuates that the procedure may be related to an immoral relationship with his neighbor Fräulein Bürstner. Josef visits Bürstner to vent his worries, and then kisses her. Josef is ordered to appear at the court's address the coming Sunday, without … (Wikipedia)

  14. The New York Trilogy

    by Paul Auster
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    Readership: Eclectic

    A 2006 reissue by Penguin Books is fronted by new pulp magazine -style covers by comic book illustrator Art Spiegelman . The first story, City of Glass , features an author of detective fiction who becomes a private investigator and descends into madness as he becomes embroiled in the investigation of a case. It explores layers of identity and reality, from Paul Auster the writer of the novel to the unnamed "author" who reports the events as reality, to "Paul Auster the writer", a character in the story, to "Paul Auster the detective", who may or may not exist in … (Wikipedia)

  15. Waiting for Godot

    by Samuel Beckett
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    Two men, Vladimir and Estragon, have met near a leafless tree. Estragon spent the previous night lying in a ditch and receiving a beating from some unnamed assailants. The two men discuss a variety of issues, and it is revealed that they are waiting for a man named Godot. They are not certain if they’ve ever met Godot, or if he will even arrive. Two other characters show up, Pozzo and his slave Lucky, who are headed for the market, where Pozzo intends to sell Lucky. They pause in their journey, as Pozzo engages Vladimir and Estragon in conversation. Lucky … (Wikipedia)

  16. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

    by Haruki Murakami
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    The first part, "The Thieving Magpie", begins with the narrator, Toru Okada, a low-key and unemployed lawyer's assistant, being tasked by his wife, Kumiko, to find their missing cat. Kumiko suggests looking in the alley, a closed-off strip of land behind their house. After Toru stays there for a while with no luck, May Kasahara, a teenager who had been watching him camping out in the alley for some time, questions him. She invites him over to her house in order to sit on the patio and look over an abandoned house that she says is a popular hangout for … (Wikipedia)

  17. Dubliners

    by James Joyce
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    This work of art reflects life in Ireland at the turn of the last century, and by rejecting euphemism, reveals to the Irish their unromantic realities. Each of the 15 stories offers glimpses into the lives of ordinary Dubliners, and collectively they paint a portrait of a nation. … (Goodreads)

  18. The Savage Detectives

    by Roberto Bolaño
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    Readership: Eclectic

    The novel is narrated in first person by several narrators and divided into three parts. The first section , "Mexicans Lost in Mexico", set in late 1975, is told by 17-year-old aspiring poet, Juan García Madero. It centers on his admittance to a roving gang of poets who refer to themselves as the Visceral Realists. He drops out of university and travels around Mexico City , becoming increasingly involved with the adherents of Visceral Realism, although he remains uncertain about Visceral Realism. The book's second section , "The Savage Detectives," comprises nearly two-thirds of the novel's total length. The section … (Wikipedia)

  19. Norwegian Wood

    by Haruki Murakami
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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    Readership: Popular

    Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman. A magnificent blending of the music, the mood, and the ethos that … (Goodreads)

  20. Hunger

    by Knut Hamsun
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    Readership: Eclectic

    The novel's first-person protagonist, an unnamed vagrant with intellectual leanings, probably in his late twenties, wanders the streets of Norway's capital, Kristiania ( Oslo ), in pursuit of nourishment. Over four episodes he meets a number of more or less mysterious persons, the most notable being Ylajali, a young woman with whom he engages in a mild degree of physical intimacy. He exhibits a self-created code of chivalry, giving money and clothes to needy children and vagrants, not eating food given to him, and turning himself in for stealing. Essentially self-destructive, he thus falls into traps of his own making, … (Wikipedia)