Part One Contemporary Fiction and Nonfiction. Part Two The Humanities: History, Biography, and the Classics

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1 Introduction This booklist reflects our belief that reading is one of the most wonderful experiences available to us. There is something magical about how a set of marks on a page can become such a source of pleasure and delight, how they can transport us to new worlds and guide us along new paths of knowledge and discovery. The many persons who have had a role in creating this booklist have all found books to be a deeply pleasurable and meaningful part of their lives. This booklist is our way of sharing our enthusiasm and excitement about reading with you. Prior to the modern age, reading was the province of a very few typically that of the clergy, the scholar, or the wealthy. Only in the last one to two hundred years have people from all walks of life had access to education and books. To this day, people in many parts of the world lack the freedom to read. We are fortunate indeed to have the ability and freedom to experience, in the solitude of our hearts and minds, the wonderful pleasure of reading. Reading allows us to transcend our limitations. It opens up new worlds of thought and feeling and gives us a sense of the richness and diversity of human experience. Reading can give us insight into what makes life meaningful, and it can help to shape our most deeply held values. Reading can also provide us with the pleasure that comes from learning about the world and how it works, often helping us to see things we never noticed before. One of the richest reading experiences is when a book presents a new way of thinking about the world and we find ourselves responding in a thoughtful, critical way. We feel as if we re in a conversation with the author, weighing the author s ideas against our own views and considering what to accept or reject. One of the most unsettling reading experiences can also be one of the most rewarding. Once in a while we find that the book we are reading is actually reading us telling us things about ourselves that we have always intuited deep down inside but have never really thought about. The reward comes if we accept the challenge to reflect upon our lives and come to terms with our flaws and shortcomings. All of these reading experiences have a great deal of value. But underlying every single one of them is the simple pleasure we get when we find ourselves lost in a good book. That s the source of reading s power, the experience of being absorbed in a good book and imaginatively participating in the world the author has created. It is our intention that this booklist serve as a resource and guide, no matter what your interests as a reader may be. The great comic Groucho Marx once said, Outside a dog, a book is man s best friend. Inside a dog, it s too dark to read. We are confident that you will find many best friends waiting to be discovered here. There are more than 1,000 books listed and briefly described in this booklist, more or less evenly divided into two distinct parts. Part One, Contemporary Fiction and Nonfiction, is comprised of contemporary books from 20 different subject areas. Part Two, The Humanities: History, Biography, and the Classics, is comprised of some of the greatest works of Western and World literature, as well as a selection of compelling histories and biographies. Our goal was to choose the finest books that we could find for each section books that are engaging, accessible, and well-written.

2 Part One Contemporary Fiction and Nonfiction Part One is divided into two sections: Contemporary Fiction and Contemporary Nonfiction. We first annotate in Contemporary Fiction more than 100 of the finest contemporary novels. We go on to annotate many enjoyable, engaging books in several additional genres: science fiction and fantasy, historical fiction, and mystery. With their absorbing stories and intriguing characters, you will find yourself lost in these books from the very beginning. In the mood for some poetry, or perhaps a short story? You will also find here lists of wonderfully engaging poetry anthologies and short story anthologies, ones that will appeal to the newcomer and experienced reader alike. You will also find in this section a list entitled Introduction to the Classics, representing some of the most compelling and accessible of the classics from Part Two. If you re new to the classics, this is a good list to try. We experience a different kind of pleasure in reading good nonfiction, the pleasure of learning and the satisfaction of curiosity. In Contemporary Nonfiction, we annotate almost 250 books from a variety of subject areas, including, for example, travel and adventure, the arts, games and sports, and memoir. These books have a unique power to inspire, challenge, and entertain sometimes all at once! The Introduction to History list in this section includes some of the most engaging and accessible works of history from Part Two. Part Two The Humanities: History, Biography, and the Classics One of the most exquisite pleasures available to readers is the experience of reading the classics. Great literature communicates a unique vision of life in a compelling and extraordinary way. The classics make their impact on us by challenging, inspiring, and ennobling us in ways that we can t always articulate but can always sense. Part Two represents our efforts to identify these works for you, as well as interesting, well-written works of history and biography. Our list of classics in Part Two is introductory, not comprehensive. The books we have chosen require little prior knowledge of the region or period in which they were written, and little prior experience reading the classics. Part Two is divided into two sections: Western History and Literature, and World History and Literature. The first of these, Western History and Literature, is organized chronologically by period and region; for example, there are sections on Greece, and Rome, and the Middle Ages. World History and Literature is organized by civilization or region, for example China and Latin America. The sections are organized so that you can focus on history or literature, or read both together for the mutual illumination they provide. Before you begin selecting books to read, we recommend that you read the Table of Contents, as well as the introductions and a few annotations in each section. This will give you a clear sense of what is on offer and will help you make your decision about where to begin. You may also find useful the Guide to Reading the Annotations (p. 351). Happy reading! ii

3 Contents Part One Contemporary Fiction and Nonfiction Introduction to Part One Contemporary Fiction Novels Fantasy and Science Fiction Mystery Historical Fiction Short Stories Poetry Introduction to the Classics Contemporary Nonfiction Travel and Adventure Psychology Business, Economics, and Personal Finance Politics, Government, and International Relations Social Commentary The Arts Sports and Games Memoir Philosophy and Religion Science Essays Introduction to History Journals and Magazines Part Two The Humanities: History, Biography, and the Classics Introduction to Part Two Western History and Literature I. Surveys of Western History II. Antiquity A. Surveys B. The Ancient Middle East C. Greece D. Rome E. The Judeo-Christian Period iii

4 III. The Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period A. The Early and High Middle Ages B. The Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period The Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance The Age of Exploration The Reformation The Scientific Revolution The Early Modern Period General Literature IV. The Modern Period A. European History Britain th Century th Century B. American History Surveys and American Intellectual History th and 18th Centuries th Century C. 20th Century and Early 21st Century World History D. Literature th Century th Century th Century Short Stories Poetry V. Specialized Histories A. Art History B. Military History C. Science and Technology D. Religious History E. Intellectual History F. Historical Atlases and Almanacs G. Additional Series in History and Biography World History and Literature I. India and Southeast Asia History Biography Ancient Literature Medieval Literature Modern Literature iv

5 II. China History Biography Ancient Literature Medieval Literature Modern Literature III. Japan History Biography Medieval Literature Modern Literature IV. The Middle East History Biography Medieval Literature Modern Literature V. Africa History Biography Modern Literature VI. Latin America Pre-Columbian History Modern History Biography Modern Literature A Guide to Reading the Annotations Index About the Authors v

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