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  1. The Sun Also Rises

    by Ernest Hemingway
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    On the surface, the novel is a love story between the protagonist Jake Barnes—a man whose war wound has made him unable to have sex—and the promiscuous divorcée usually identified as Lady Brett Ashley. Jake is an expatriate American journalist living in Paris, while Brett is a twice-divorced Englishwoman with bobbed hair and numerous love affairs, and embodies the new sexual freedom of the 1920s. Brett's affair with Jake's college friend Robert Cohn causes Jake to be upset and break off his friendship with Robert; her seduction of the 19-year-old matador Romero causes Jake to lose his good reputation among … (Wikipedia)

  2. A Farewell to Arms

    by Ernest Hemingway
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    The novel is divided into five sections or 'books'. Frederic Henry is first person narrator of the story. Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American paramedic , is serving in the Italian Army . The novel begins during the First World War. It is the start of winter when a Cholera epidemic kills thousands of soldiers. Frederic has a brief visit to Gorizia where he meets with other army fellows and the priest. He finds there are two brothels, one for officers and the other for lower rank soldiers. On his return, he shares his experience with his friend, Surgeon Rinaldi, quite … (Wikipedia)

  3. East of Eden

    by John Steinbeck
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    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)

  4. Heart of Darkness

    by Joseph Conrad
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    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)

  5. All Quiet on the Western Front

    by Erich Maria Remarque
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    The book tells the story of Paul Bäumer, who belongs to a group of German soldiers on the Western Front during World War I . The patriotic speeches of his teacher Kantorek had led the whole class to volunteer for military service shortly after the start of World War I . He didn't have any experience when going into the war but he still went in with an open mind and a kind heart. Paul lived with his father, mother, and sister in a charming German village, and attended school. His class was "scattered over the platoons amongst Frisian fishermen, … (Wikipedia)

  6. The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories

    by Ernest Hemingway
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    Readership: Very niche

    The ideal introduction to the genius of Ernest Hemingway, ,The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories, contains ten of Hemingway's most acclaimed and popular works of short fiction. Selected from ,Winner Take Nothing, Men Without Women,, and ,The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories,, this collection includes "The Killers," the first of Hemingway's mature stories to be accepted by an American periodical; the autobiographical "Fathers and Sons," which alludes, for the first time in Hemingway's career, to his father's suicide; "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," a "brilliant fusion of personal observation, hearsay and invention," wrote Hemingway's biographer, … (Goodreads)

  7. War and Peace

    by Leo Tolstoy
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    The novel begins in July 1805 in Saint Petersburg , at a soirée given by Anna Pavlovna Scherer—the maid of honour and confidante to the dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna . Many of the main characters are introduced as they enter the salon. Pierre (Pyotr Kirilovich) Bezukhov is the illegitimate son of a wealthy count , who is dying after a series of strokes. Pierre is about to become embroiled in a struggle for his inheritance. Educated abroad at his father's expense following his mother's death, Pierre is kindhearted but socially awkward, and finds it difficult to integrate into Petersburg society. … (Wikipedia)

  8. Cat's Cradle

    by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut's cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it ... Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding 'fathers' of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he's the inventor of 'ice-nine', a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker's three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker's Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, … (Goodreads)

  9. All the Pretty Horses

    by Cormac McCarthy
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    Readership: Eclectic

    The novel tells of John Grady Cole, a 16-year-old who grew up on his grandfather's ranch in San Angelo , Texas . The boy was raised for a significant part of his youth, perhaps 15 of his 16 years, by a family of Mexican origin who worked on the ranch; he is a native speaker of Spanish and English. ,, The story begins in 1949, soon after the death of John Grady's grandfather when Grady learns the ranch is to be sold. Faced with the prospect of moving into town, Grady instead chooses to leave and persuades his best friend, … (Wikipedia)

  10. 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)

  11. The Unbearable Lightness of Being

    by Milan Kundera
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    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)

  12. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

    by Ernest Hemingway
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    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)

  13. King Lear

    by William Shakespeare
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    Shakespeare’s King Lear challenges us with the magnitude, intensity, and sheer duration of the pain that it represents. Its figures harden their hearts, engage in violence, or try to alleviate the suffering of others. Lear himself rages until his sanity cracks. What, then, keeps bringing us back to King Lear? For all the force of its language, King Lear is almost equally powerful when translated, suggesting that it is the story, in large part, that draws us to the play. The play tells us about families struggling between greed and cruelty, on the one hand, and support and consolation, on … (Goodreads)

  14. Dubliners

    by James Joyce
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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)

  15. The Name of the Rose

    by Umberto Eco
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    In 1327, Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and Adso of Melk , a Benedictine novice travelling under his protection, arrive at a Benedictine monastery in Northern Italy to attend a theological disputation . This abbey is being used as neutral ground in a dispute between Pope John XXII and the Franciscans, who are suspected of heresy. The monastery is disturbed by the death of Adelmo of Otranto, an illuminator revered for his illustrations. Adelmo was skilled at comical artwork, especially concerning religious matters. William is asked by the monastery's abbot , Abo of Fossanova, to investigate the death: During his … (Wikipedia)

  16. 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)

  17. I, Claudius

    by Robert Graves
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    Readership: Eclectic

    Into the 'autobiography' of Clau-Clau-Claudius, the pitiful stammerer who was destined to become Emperor in spite of himself, Graves packs the everlasting intrigues, the depravity, the bloody purges and mounting cruelty of the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, soon to culminate in the deified insanity of Caligula. I, Claudius and its sequel, Claudius the God , are among the most celebrated, as well the most gripping historical novels ever written. Cover illustration: Brian Pike … (Goodreads)

  18. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    by Hunter S. Thompson
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    The basic synopsis revolves around journalist Raoul Duke ( Hunter S. Thompson ) and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo ( Oscar Zeta Acosta ), as they arrive in Las Vegas in 1971 to report on the Mint 400 motorcycle race for an unnamed magazine. However, this job is repeatedly obstructed by their constant use of a variety of recreational drugs, including LSD , ether , cocaine , alcohol , mescaline , and cannabis . This leads to a series of bizarre hallucinogenic experiences, during which they destroy hotel rooms, wreck cars, and have visions of anthropomorphic desert animals, all the while … (Wikipedia)

  19. Steppenwolf

    by Hermann Hesse
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    The book is presented as a manuscript written by its protagonist , a middle-aged man named Harry Haller, who leaves it to a chance acquaintance, the nephew of his landlady. The acquaintance adds a short preface of his own and then has the manuscript published. The title of this "real" book-in-the-book is Harry Haller's Records (For Madmen Only) . As the story begins, the hero is beset by reflections on his being ill-suited for the world of everyday, regular people, specifically for frivolous bourgeois society. In his aimless wanderings about the city he encounters a person carrying an advertisement for … (Wikipedia)

  20. The Plague

    by Albert Camus
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    The book begins with an epigraph quoting Daniel Defoe , author of ,A Journal of the Plague Year, . In the town of Oran, thousands of rats, initially unnoticed by the populace, begin to die in the streets. Hysteria develops soon afterward, causing the local newspapers to report the incident. Authorities responding to public pressure order the collection and cremation of the rats, unaware that the collection itself was the catalyst for the spread of the bubonic plague . The main character, Dr. Bernard Rieux, lives comfortably in an apartment building when strangely the building's concierge, M. Michel, a confidante, … (Wikipedia)