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  1. Invisible Cities

    by Italo Calvino
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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    Readership: Eclectic

    "Kublai Khan does not necessarily believe everything Marco Polo says when he describes the cities visited on his expeditions, but the emperor of the Tartars does continue listening to the young Venetian with greater attention and curiosity than he shows any other messenger or explorer of his." So begins Italo Calvino's compilation of fragmentary urban images. As Marco tells the khan about Armilla, which "has nothing that makes it seem a city, except the water pipes that rise vertically where the houses should be and spread out horizontally where the floors should be," the spider-web city of Octavia, and other … (Goodreads)

  2. The Baron in the Trees

    by Italo Calvino
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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    Readership: Very niche

    A landmark new translation of a Calvino classic, a whimsical, spirited novel that imagines a life lived entirely on its own terms Cosimo di Rondó, a young Italian nobleman of the eighteenth century, rebels against his parents by climbing into the trees and remaining there for the rest of his life. He adapts efficiently to an existence in the forest canopy—he hunts, sows crops, plays games with earth-bound friends, fights forest fires, solves engineering problems, and even manages to have love affairs. From his perch in the trees, Cosimo sees the Age of Enlightenment pass by and a new century … (Barnes & Noble)

  3. Cosmicomics

    by Italo Calvino
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟡⚪️
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    Readership: Very niche

    Italo Calvino's extraordinary imagination and intelligence combine here in an enchanting series of stories about the evolution of the universe. He makes his characters out of mathematical formulae and simple cellular structures. They disport themselves among galaxies, experience the solidification of planets, move from aquatic to terrestrial existence, play games with hydrogen atoms, and even have a love life. During the course of these stories Calvino toys with continuous creation, the transformation of matter, and the expanding and contracting reaches of space and time. He succeeds in relating complex scientific concepts to the ordinary reactions of common humanity. William Weaver's … (Goodreads)

  4. 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)

  5. The Crying of Lot 49

    by Thomas Pynchon
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    Readership: Eclectic

    In the mid-1960s, Oedipa Maas lives a fairly comfortable life in the (fictional) northern Californian village of Kinneret, despite her lackluster marriage with Mucho Maas, a rudderless radio jockey , and her sessions with Dr. Hilarius, an unhinged German psychotherapist who tries to medicate his patients with LSD . One day, Oedipa learns of the death of an ex-lover, Pierce Inverarity, an incredibly wealthy real-estate mogul, who has left her as the executor of his massive estate. Inverarity appears to have owned or financed nearly all the goings-on in San Narciso , a (fictional) southern Californian city near Los Angeles … (Wikipedia)

  6. Cat's Cradle

    by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟡⚪️
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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)

  7. To the Lighthouse

    by Virginia Woolf
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    The novel is set in the Ramsays' summer home in the Hebrides , on the Isle of Skye . The section begins with Mrs Ramsay assuring her son James that they should be able to visit the lighthouse on the next day. This prediction is denied by Mr Ramsay, who voices his certainty that the weather will not be clear, an opinion that forces a certain tension between Mr and Mrs Ramsay, and also between Mr Ramsay and James. This particular incident is referred to on various occasions throughout the section, especially in the context of Mr and Mrs Ramsay's … (Wikipedia)

  8. 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)

  9. Ficciones

    by Jorge Luis Borges
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟡⚪️
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    Readership: Eclectic

    The seventeen pieces in Ficciones demonstrate the whirlwind of Borges's genius and mirror the precision and potency of his intellect and inventiveness, his piercing irony, his skepticism, and his obsession with fantasy. Borges sends us on a journey into a compelling, bizarre, and profoundly resonant realm; we enter the fearful sphere of Pascal's abyss, the surreal and literal labyrinth of books, and the iconography of eternal return. To enter the worlds in Ficciones is to enter the mind of Jorge Luis Borges, wherein lies Heaven, Hell, and everything else in between. Part One: The Garden of Forking Paths Prologue Tlön, … (Goodreads)

  10. Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings

    by Jorge Luis Borges
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟢
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    Readership: Very niche

    Although his work has been restricted to the short story, the essay, and poetry, Jorge Luis Borges of Argentina is recognized all over the world as one of the most original and significant figures in modern literature. In his preface, Andre Maurois writes: "Borges is a great writer who has composed only little essays or short narratives. Yet they suffice for us to call him great because of their wonderful intelligence, their wealth of invention, and their tight, almost mathematical style." Labyrinths is a representative selection of Borges' writing, some forty pieces drawn from various books of his published over … (Goodreads)

  11. 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)

  12. 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)

  13. Blindness

    by José Saramago
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    Blindness is the story of an unexplained mass epidemic of blindness afflicting nearly everyone in an unnamed city, and the social breakdown that swiftly follows. The novel follows the misfortune of a handful of unnamed characters who are among the first to be stricken with blindness, including an ophthalmologist, several of his patients, and assorted others, who are thrown together by chance. The ophthalmologist's spouse, "the doctor's wife," is inexplicably immune from the blindness. After a lengthy and traumatic quarantine in an asylum, the group bands together in a family-like unit to survive by their wits and by the good … (Wikipedia)

  14. Steppenwolf

    by Hermann Hesse
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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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)

  15. A Confederacy of Dunces

    by John Kennedy Toole
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    Alternate cover for this ISBN can be found ,here, "A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs." Meet Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero of John Kennedy Toole's tragicomic tale, A Confederacy of Dunces . This 30-year-old medievalist … (Goodreads)

  16. 1Q84

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

    The events of 1Q84 take place in Tokyo during a fictionalized year of 1984, with the first volume set between April and June, the second between July and September, and the third between October and December. The book opens with a female character named Aomame (,あおまめ,) as she rides a taxi in Tokyo on her way to a work assignment. When the taxi gets stuck in a traffic jam on the Shibuya Route of the Shuto Expressway , the driver suggests that she get out of the car and climb down an emergency escape in order to make it to … (Wikipedia)

  17. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    by Junot Díaz
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    Oscar de León (nicknamed Oscar Wao, a bastardization of Oscar Wilde ) is an overweight Dominican growing up in Paterson, New Jersey. Oscar desperately wants to be successful with women but, from a young age, is unable to find love, largely because he is a nerd obsessed with science fiction and comic books. His great fear is that he will die a virgin. After high school, Oscar attends Rutgers University. His sister's boyfriend Yunior (the narrator of much of the novel) moves in with Oscar and tries to help him get in shape and become more "normal". After "getting dissed … (Wikipedia)

  18. The Master and Margarita

    by Mikhail Bulgakov
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟡⚪️
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    The novel has two settings. The first is Moscow during the 1930s, where Satan appears at Patriarch's Ponds as Professor Woland . He is accompanied by Koroviev, a grotesquely-dressed valet; Behemoth , a black cat; Azazello, a hitman ; and Hella, a female vampire . They target the literary elite and Massolit, their trade union, ,[note 1], whose headquarters is Griboyedov House. Massolit consists of corrupt social climbers and their women, bureaucrats, profiteers, and cynics. The second setting is the Jerusalem of Pontius Pilate : Pilate's trial of Yeshua Ha-Notsri (Jesus of Nazareth), his recognition of an affinity with (and … (Wikipedia)

  19. Mrs. Dalloway

    by Virginia Woolf
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    Clarissa Dalloway goes around London in the morning, getting ready to host a party that evening. The nice day reminds her of her youth spent in the countryside in Bourton and makes her wonder about her choice of husband; she married the reliable Richard Dalloway instead of the enigmatic and demanding Peter Walsh, and she "had not the option" to be with a close female friend, Sally Seton. Peter reintroduces these conflicts by paying a visit that morning. Septimus Warren Smith, a First World War veteran suffering from deferred traumatic stress , spends his day in the park with his … (Wikipedia)

  20. 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)