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  1. The Corrections

    by Jonathan Franzen
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
    Affinity: 🟢🟢🟢🟢
    Readership: Somewhat known

    The novel shifts back and forth through the late 20th century, intermittently following spouses Alfred and Enid Lambert as they raise their children Gary, Chip, and Denise in the traditional Midwestern suburb of St. Jude, and the lives of each family member as the three children grow up, distancing themselves and living on the East Coast. Alfred, a rigid and strict patriarch who worked as a railroad engineer, has developed Parkinson's and shows increasingly unmanageable symptoms of dementia . Enid takes out her frustrations with him by attempting to impose her traditional judgments on her adult children's lives, to their … (Wikipedia)

  2. A Visit from the Goon Squad

    by Jennifer Egan
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis … (Goodreads)

  3. Purity

    by Jonathan Franzen
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟡⚪️
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    Readership: Eclectic

    The novel tells the intersecting stories of several different people of widely diverging ages and backgrounds. Purity Tyler, who goes by the name "Pip" is 23 and has $130,000 in student loan debt. She was raised by her reclusive mother Penelope in Felton, California , south of the Bay Area . The two have a unique and co-dependent relationship with her mother refusing to tell Pip anything about her father or even her previous life including Penelope's real name and age. Pip works as a telemarketer for a company selling dubious green energy schemes and lives in a communal squat … (Wikipedia)

  4. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    by Junot Díaz
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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)

  5. 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)

  6. The Secret History

    by Donna Tartt
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    Readership: Popular

    Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last—inexorably—into evil. … (Goodreads)

  7. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

    by Dave Eggers
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    'When you read his extraordinary memoir you don't laugh, then cry, then laugh again; you somehow experience these emotions all at once.' "Well, this was when Bill was sighing a lot. He had decided that after our parents died he just didn't want any more fighting between what was left of us. He was twenty-four, Beth was twenty-three, I was twenty-one, Toph was eight, and all of us were so tried already, from that winter. So when something would come up, any little thing, some bill to pay or decision to make, he would just sigh, his eyes tired, his … (Goodreads)

  8. The Sense of an Ending

    by Julian Barnes
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    By an acclaimed writer at the height of his powers, The Sense of an Ending extends a streak of extraordinary books that began with the best-selling Arthur & George and continued with Nothing to Be Frightened Of and, most recently, Pulse. This intense novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about - until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he'd left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and … (Goodreads)

  9. Crossroads

    by Jonathan Franzen
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟡⚪️
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    Readership: Very niche

    Jonathan Franzen's gift for wedding depth and vividness of character with breadth of social vision has never been more dazzlingly evident than in ,Crossroads,. It's December 23, 1971, and heavy weather is forecast for Chicago. Russ Hildebrandt, the associate pastor of a liberal suburban church, is on the brink of breaking free of a marriage he finds joyless--unless his wife, Marion, who has her own secret life, beats him to it. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college on fire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem's sister, Becky, long the social … (Goodreads)

  10. Stoner

    by John Williams
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟢
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    William Stoner is born on a small farm in 1891. After high school, the county agent advises he go to agriculture school. Stoner enrolls in the University of Missouri , where all agriculture students must take a survey course in English literature during their sophomore year. The literature he encounters in this introductory course, such as Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 , opens a gateway to a new world for him, and he quickly falls in love with literary studies. Without telling his parents, Stoner quits the agriculture program and studies only the humanities. Archer Sloane, a professor, suggests to Stoner that … (Wikipedia)

  11. Americanah

    by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. … (Goodreads)

  12. 1Q84

    by Haruki Murakami
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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)

  13. White Teeth

    by Zadie Smith
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    On New Year's Day 1975, Archie Jones, a 47-year-old Englishman whose disturbed Italian wife has just walked out on him, is attempting to take his own life by gassing himself in his car when a chance interruption causes him to change his mind. Filled with a fresh enthusiasm for life, Archie flips a coin and then finds his way into the aftermath of a New Year's Eve party. There he meets the much-younger Clara Bowden, a Jamaican woman whose mother, Hortense, is a devout Jehovah's Witness . Clara had been interested in the unattractive, anti-social Ryan Topps, but their relationship … (Wikipedia)

  14. Tenth of December

    by George Saunders
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟡⚪️
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    Readership: Eclectic

    A young girl named Alison is kidnapped three days before her birthday. Kyle, a boy who lives nearby whose parents enforce very strict household rules, sees the event unfold and must decide whether to help Alison (who used to be his friend but stopped hanging out with him after becoming popular) or to ignore the situation to keep himself safe. A father has a tall pole in the front yard that he constantly decorates for holidays. His child recounts life with his dad and how the man eventually lost his sanity after his wife died and began to decorate the … (Wikipedia)

  15. Skippy Dies

    by Paul Murray
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟡⚪️
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    Readership: Very niche

    Skippy Dies follows the lives of a group of students and faculty members at the fictional Seabrook College, a Catholic boarding school in Dublin . The title character, Daniel "Skippy" Juster, dies during a donut-eating contest in the novel's opening scene. The rest of the novel explores the events leading up to Skippy's death, as well as the aftermath within the Seabrook community. The novel began as a short story, concerning a pupil and a teacher, but it quickly outgrew this as Murray created further characters. A later draft of the novel ran to a thousand pages, though Murray culled … (Wikipedia)

  16. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

    by Haruki Murakami
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟢🟡
    Affinity: 🟢🟢🟡⚪️
    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. East of Eden

    by John Steinbeck
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    Affinity: 🟢🟡⚪️⚪️
    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)

  18. Super Sad True Love Story

    by Gary Shteyngart
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    Readership: Eclectic

    The son of a Russian immigrant , protagonist Leonard (Lenny) Abramov, a middle-aged, middle class, otherwise unremarkable man whose mentality is still in the past century, falls madly in love with Eunice Park, a young Korean-American from New Jersey struggling with materialism and the pressures of her traditional Korean family. The chapters alternate between profuse diary entries from the old-fashioned Lenny and Eunice's biting e-mail correspondence on her "GlobalTeens" account. In the background of what appears to be a love story that oscillates between superficiality and despair, a grim political situation unravels. America is on the brink of economic collapse, … (Wikipedia)

  19. Unaccustomed Earth

    by Jhumpa Lahiri
    Quality: 🟢🟢🟡⚪️
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    Readership: Eclectic

    From the internationally best-selling, Pulitzer Prize–winning author, a superbly crafted new work of fiction: eight stories—longer and more emotionally complex than any she has yet written—that take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand as they enter the lives of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. In the stunning title story, Ruma, a young mother in a new city, is visited by her father, who carefully tends the earth of her garden, where he and his grandson form a special bond. But he’s harboring a secret from his daughter, a love affair … (Goodreads)

  20. 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)