32 Books
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Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1970
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The Idiot
Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1970
GenevaBookClub: Returning to Russia from a sanitarium in Switzerland, the Christ-like epileptic Prince Myshkin finds himself enmeshed in a tangle of love, torn between two women—the notorious kept woman Nastasya and the pure Aglaia—both involved, in turn, with the corrupt, money-hungry Ganya. In the end, Myshkin’s honesty, goodness, and integrity are shown to be unequal to the moral emptiness of those around him. In her revision of the Garnett translation, Anna Brailovsky has corrected inaccuracies wrought by Garnett’s drastic anglicization of the novel, restoring as much as possible the syntactical structure of the original story.
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George Orwell, 1949
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1984
George Orwell, 1949
GenevaBookClub: Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell's nightmarish vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff's attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell's prescience of modern life—the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language—and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.
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Gustave Flaubert, 1856
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Madame Bovary
Gustave Flaubert, 1856
GenevaBookClub: Emma Bovary is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent devourer of sentimental novels, she longs for passion and seeks escape in fantasies of high romance, in voracious spending and, eventually, in adultery. But even her affairs bring her disappointment, and when real life continues to fail to live up to her romantic expectations, the consequences are devastating. Flaubert's erotically charged and psychologically acute portrayal of Emma Bovary caused a moral outcry on its publication in 1857. It was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for his heroine; but Flaubert insisted: 'Madame Bovary, c'est moi
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Karl Marx, 1848
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The Communist Manifesto
Karl Marx, 1848
GenevaBookClub: The Communist Manifesto summarises Marx and Engels' theories concerning the nature of society and politics, namely that in their own words "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. It also briefly features their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism. In the last paragraph of the Manifesto, the authors call for a forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions, which served as a call for communist revolutions around the world.
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Charles Darwin, 1859
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On the Origin of Species
Charles Darwin, 1859
GenevaBookClub: Darwin's theory of natural selection issued a profound challenge to orthodox thought and belief: no being or species has been specifically created; all are locked into a pitiless struggle for existence, with extinction looming for those not fitted for the task. Yet The Origin of Species is also a humane and inspirational vision of ecological interrelatedness, revealing the complex mutual interdependencies between animal and plant life, climate and physical environment, and—by implication—within the human world.
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Virginia Woolf, 1929
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A Room of One's Own
Virginia Woolf, 1929
GenevaBookClub: An extended essay was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges at Cambridge University in October 1928. While this extended essay in fact employs a fictional narrator and narrative to explore women both as writers of and characters in fiction, the manuscript for the delivery of the series of lectures, titled Women and Fiction, and hence the essay, are considered nonfiction. The essay is seen as a feminist text, and is noted in its argument for both a literal and figural space for women writers within a literary tradition dominated by patriarchy.
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Adam Smith, 1776
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The Wealth of Nations
Adam Smith, 1776
GenevaBookClub: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776, the book offers one of the world's first collected descriptions of what builds nations' wealth, and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the book touches upon such broad topics as the division of labour, productivity, and free markets.
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Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, 1605
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Don Quixot
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, 1605
GenevaBookClub: Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote's fancy often leads him astray—he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants—Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers' imaginations for nearly four hundred years. With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote has been generally recognized as the first modern novel. The book has been enormously influential on a host of writers, from Fielding and Sterne to Flaubert, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner, who reread it once a year, "just as some people read the Bible.
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Mikhail Bulgakov, 1960
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The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov, 1960
GenevaBookClub: An audacious revision of the stories of Faust and Pontius Pilate, The Master and Margarita is recognized as one of the essential classics of modern Russian literature. The novel's vision of Soviet life in the 1930s is so ferociously accurate that it could not be published during its author's lifetime and appeared only in a censored edition in the 1960s. Its truths are so enduring that its language has become part of the common Russian speech.
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Nicolo Machiavelli, 1532
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The Prince
Nicolo Machiavelli, 1532
GenevaBookClub: Machiavelli composed The Prince as a practical guide for ruling (though some scholars argue that the book was intended as a satire and essentially a guide on how not to rule). This goal is evident from the very beginning, the dedication of the book to Lorenzo de’ Medici, the ruler of Florence. The Prince is not particularly theoretical or abstract; its prose is simple and its logic straightforward. These traits underscore Machiavelli’s desire to provide practical, easily understandable advice.
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Franz Kafka, 1915
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The Metamorphosis
Franz Kafka, 1915
GenevaBookClub: As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was laying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes. With it's startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first opening, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing—though absurdly comic—meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction. As W.H. Auden wrote, "Kafka is important to us because his predicament is the predicament of modern man.
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Charles Dickens, 1859
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A Tale of two Cities
Charles Dickens, 1859
GenevaBookClub: After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There the lives of two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil roads of London, they are drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror, and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.
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Plato, 375 B.C.
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The Republic
Plato, 375 B.C.
GenevaBookClub: A Socratic dialogue, authored by Plato around 375 BC, concerning justice, the order and character of the just city-state, and the just man.
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Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852
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Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852
GenevaBookClub: The narrative drive of Stowe's classic novel is often overlooked in the heat of the controversies surrounding its anti-slavery sentiments. In fact, it is a compelling adventure story with richly drawn characters and has earned a place in both literary and American history. Stowe's puritanical religious beliefs show up in the novel's final, overarching theme—the exploration of the nature of Christianity and how Christian theology is fundamentally incompatible with slavery.
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Jared Diamond, 1997
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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Jared Diamond, 1997
GenevaBookClub: In this "artful, informative, and delightful" book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed writing, technology, government, and organized religion—as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war—and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history.
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Leo Tolstoy, 1877
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Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy, 1877
GenevaBookClub: Acclaimed by many as the world's greatest novel, Anna Karenina provides a vast panorama of contemporary life in Russia and of humanity in general. In it Tolstoy uses his intense imaginative insight to create some of the most memorable characters in all of literature. Anna is a sophisticated woman who abandons her empty existence as the wife of Karenin and turns to Count Vronsky to fulfil her passionate nature - with tragic consequences. Levin is a reflection of Tolstoy himself, often expressing the author's own views and convictions. Throughout, Tolstoy points no moral, merely inviting us not to judge but to watch. As Rosemary Edmonds comments, 'He leaves the shifting patterns of the kaleidoscope to bring home the meaning of the brooding words following the title, 'Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.
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Gabriel García Márquez, 1967
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One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel García Márquez, 1967
GenevaBookClub: The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as "magical realism".
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Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1866
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Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1866
GenevaBookClub: Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption.
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Harper Lee, 1960
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To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee, 1960
GenevaBookClub: The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic. Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.
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George Orwell, 1945
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Animal Farm
George Orwell, 1945
GenevaBookClub: A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned –a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible. When Animal Farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is devastatingly clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell’s masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh.
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