A moderately brief list of my favorites pieces of literature. I may or may not add a poetry section – tell me what you think!
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
Ishmael: A Journey of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn
The narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man in search for truth. He answers an ad in a local newspaper from a teacher looking for serious pupils, only to find himself alone in an abandoned office with a full-grown gorilla who is nibbling delicately on a slender branch. “You are the teacher?” he asks incredulously. “I am the teacher,” the gorilla replies. Ishmael is a creature of immense wisdom and he has a story to tell, one that no other human being has ever heard. It is a story that extends backward and forward over the lifespan of the earth from the birth of time to a future there is still time save. Like all great teachers, Ishmael refuses to make the lesson easy; he demands the final illumination to come from within ourselves. Is it man’s destiny to rule the world? Or is it a higher destiny possible for him– one more wonderful than he has ever imagined?
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
Carl Streator is a reporter investigating Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for a soft-news feature. After responding to several calls with paramedics, he notices that all the dead children were read the same poem from the same library book the night before they died. It’s a ‘culling song’ – an ancient African spell for euthanising sick or old people. Researching it, he meets a woman who killed her own child with it accidentally. He himself accidentally killed his own wife and child with the same poem twenty years earlier. Together, the man and the woman must find and destroy all copies of this book, and try not to kill every rude sonofabitch that gets in their way. Lullaby is a comedy/drama/tragedy. In that order. It may also be Chuck Palahniuk’s best book yet.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke reader
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness
Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.
But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?
August: Osage County by Tracy Letts
brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.
Cabaret by Joe Masteroff
Based on a book by Christopher Isherwood and featuring a score by Kander & Ebb, Cabaret tells the story of a seedy nightclub in 1930’s Berlin where a young English performer strikes up a relationship with an American writer, all while a zealous Master of Ceremonies commands the action at the Kit Kat Klub.
Titus Andronicus by Billy Shakespeare
War begets revenge. Victorious general, Titus Andronicus, returns to Rome with hostages: Tamora queen of the Goths and her sons. He orders the eldest hewn to appease the Roman dead. He declines the proffered emperor’s crown, nominating Saturninus, the last ruler’s venal elder son. Saturninus, to spite his brother Bassianus, demands the hand of Lavinia, Titus’s daughter. When Bassianus, Lavinia, and Titus’s sons flee in protest, Titus stands against them and slays one of his own. Saturninus marries the honey-tongued Tamora, who vows vengeance against Titus. The ensuing maelstrom serves up tongues, hands, rape, adultery, racism, and Goth-meat pie. There’s irony in which two sons survive.
Hamlet by Willy Shakespeare
Hamlet is the story of the Prince of Denmark who learns of the death of his father at the hands of his uncle, Claudius. Claudius murders Hamlet’s father, his own brother, to take the throne of Denmark and to marry Hamlet’s widowed mother. Hamlet is sunk into a state of great despair as a result of discovering the murder of his father and the infidelity of his mother. Hamlet is torn between his great sadness and his desire for the revenge of his father’s murder.
Disclaimer: 2/3 of these are actually comics (as in, super heroes) but that doesn’t make them any less valuable. Also, I don’t actually like Superman. At all. But, you know.
Red Son by Mark Millar
Strange visitor from another world who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands … and who, as the champion of the common worker, fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, Socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact.
In this Elseworlds tale, a familiar rocketship crash-lands on Earth carrying an infant who will one day become the most powerful being on the planet. But his ship doesn’t land in America. He is not raised in Smallville, Kansas. Instead, he makes his new home on a collective in the Soviet Union!
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
Crime runs rampant in the streets, and the man who was Batman is still tortured by the memories of his parents’ murders. As civil society crumbles around him, Bruce Wayne’s long-suppressed vigilante side finally breaks free of its self-imposed shackles.
The Dark Knight returns in a blaze of fury, taking on a whole new generation of criminals and matching their level of violence. He is soon joined by this generation’s Robin — a girl named Carrie Kelley, who proves to be just as invaluable as her predecessors.
But can Batman and Robin deal with the threat posed by their deadliest enemies, after years of incarceration have made them into perfect psychopaths? And more important, can anyone survive the coming fallout of an undeclared war between the superpowers – or a clash of what were once the world’s greatest superheroes?
The Crow by J. O’Barr
Eric Draven and his girlfriend Shelley meet their brutal demise at the hands of the inner city’s most notorious characters. Exactly a year later, Eric is brought back to life and granted the powers of superhuman strength and vision in order that he may seek vengeance on those who killed him – all under the watchful eye of a mysterious crow. One by one, Eric seeks out the gang, who are out for another evening of mayhem and violence, unaware of the fate that awaits them…