Featured List

Tom Perrotta

     “Disappointment plagues the characters in [Tom] Perrotta’s novels,” writes Laura Miller in the New Yorker, “from the disaffected parents in Little Children to the divorced sex-education instructor in The Abstinence Teacher. Their marriages lack passion, their spouses cheat, their kids demand too much from them. They thought ... read more ...

The Book: The Top Ten

Treasure Island

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1881–82). Young John Hawkins was told to beware a man with one leg. But after discovering a treasure map, he acquires a ship and hires—you guessed it—one-legged Long John Silver to cook for his ship and hire the crew, a band of villainous pirates.

Tristram Shandy

Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne (1759–67). Sterne promises the “life and opinions” of his protagonist. Yet halfway through the fourth volume of nine, we are still in the first day of the hero’s life thanks to marvelous digressions and what the narrator calls “unforeseen stoppages”—detailing the quirky habits of his eccentric family members and their friends.

Troilus and Criseyde

Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer (1381). The first great love story in English, this epic poem tells the story of what befell two lovers, Criseyde and Troilus, during the Trojan war. Criseyde is a stunner: “So aungellyk was hir natyf beautee / That lyk a thing immortal semed she.” Troilus is a Trojan prince.

Tropic of Cancer

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934). Banned in America for twenty-seven years because it was considered obscene, this autobiographical novel describes the author’s hand-to-mouth existence in Paris during the early 1930s.

True Grit

True Grit by Charles Portis (1968). In this epic and often comic tale of retribution, greed, and ambition, sixty-nine-year-old spinster Mattie Ross recalls her youthful struggle to hunt down her father’s killer in the wild Indian territory of the 1870s. While Ross studies her scripture, she breaks bread with the foul-mouthed, seldom-sober Marshall who is helping her.

Turtle Moon

Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman (1992). This is the story of a divorced woman, her disillusioned teenage son, and the events that change their lives in ways both simple and extraordinary. When Keith Rosen runs away from his Florida home - inexplicably taking along a motherless baby - his mother is perplexed and terrified. She takes off on her own journey to find him.

U.S.A. trilogy

U.S.A. trilogy by John Dos Passos (1938). Infused with the radical politics of the 1920s and 1930s and littered with newspaper excerpts, stream of consciousness prose, and biography, this triptych weaves an epic American narrative tapestry. Comprised of the novels The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money, U.S.A.

Ulverton

Ulverton by Adam Thorpe (1992). The fictional town of Ulverton—and the English language itself—are the central characters of this debut novel in which a dozen different voices detail three hundred years in the life of an English village. As he moves from the time of Cromwell to the 1980s in twelve rich chapters, Thorpe deploys language drawn from the period described.

Ulysses

Ulysses by James Joyce (1922). Filled with convoluted plotting, scrambled syntax, puns, neologisms, and arcane mythological allusions, Ulysses recounts the misadventures of schlubby Dublin advertising salesman Leopold Bloom on a single day, June 16, 1904.

Uncle Vanya

Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov (1895). Chekhov helped transform the theater through his pioneering use of indirect action—the gunshot fired offstage—and his ability to develop themes not just through dialogue but by creating a mood or atmosphere on stage. He was also a master of characterization.

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New List

Francine Prose

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877).
2. The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal (1839). (See below.)
3. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (1913–27).
4. The stories of Anton Chekhov (1860–1904).
5. The stories of John Cheever (1912–82).
6. The stories of Mavis Gallant (1922– ).
7. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851).
8. Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871–72).
9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967).

 

Classic List

Amy Bloom

 

1. The Deptford trilogy by Robertson Davies (1983).
2.Persuasion by Jane Austen (1817).
3. His Dark Materialsby Philip Pullman (1995–2000).
4.The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (1995).
5.The Known World by Edward P. Jones (2003).
6. The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro (1978).
7. The Plot Against Americaby Philip Roth.
8. The Hours by Michael Cunningham (1998).
9. Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier (1951).
10. Larry’s Party by Carol Shields (1997).

 

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