152 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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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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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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Albert Cohen, 1968
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Belle du Seigneur
Albert Cohen, 1968
GenevaBookClub: Set in Geneva in the 1930s, the narrative revolves around a Mediterranean Jew employed by the League of Nations, and his romance with a married Swiss aristocrat.
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Victor Hugo, 1862
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Les Misérables
Victor Hugo, 1862
GenevaBookClub: Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose. Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait that resulted is larger than life, epic in scope—an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.
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Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1879
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The Brothers Karamazov
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1879
GenevaBookClub: The Brothers Karamasov is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons―the impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red-cheeked young novice Alyosha. Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, is social and spiritual striving, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in Russian culture.
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Franz Kafka, 1925
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The Trial
Franz Kafka, 1925
GenevaBookClub: Written in 1914 but not published until 1925, a year after Kafka’s death, The Trial is the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information. Whether read as an existential tale, a parable, or a prophecy of the excesses of modern bureaucracy wedded to the madness of totalitarianism, The Trial has resonated with chilling truth for generations of readers.
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Anne Frank, 1947
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The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank, 1947
GenevaBookClub: Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. n 1942, with the Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, the Franks and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and surprisingly humorous, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.
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John Maxwell Coetzee, 1999
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Disgrace
John Maxwell Coetzee, 1999
GenevaBookClub: Set in post-apartheid South Africa, J. M. Coetzee’s searing novel tells the story of David Lurie, a twice divorced, 52-year-old professor of communications and Romantic Poetry at Cape Technical University. Lurie believes he has created a comfortable, if somewhat passionless, life for himself. He lives within his financial and emotional means. Though his position at the university has been reduced, he teaches his classes dutifully; and while age has diminished his attractiveness, weekly visits to a prostitute satisfy his sexual needs. He considers himself happy. However, when Lurie seduces one of his students, he sets in motion a chain of events that will shatter his complacency and leave him utterly disgraced.
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Albert Camus, 1942
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The Stranger
Albert Camus, 1942
GenevaBookClub: Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.
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F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
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The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
GenevaBookClub: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. First published in 1925, this quintessential novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
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Virginia Woolf, 1927
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To the Lighthouse
Virginia Woolf, 1927
GenevaBookClub: The serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Woolf constructs a remarkable, moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflict between men and women. As time winds its way through their lives, the Ramsays face, alone and simultaneously, the greatest of human challenges and its greatest triumph—the human capacity for change.
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Chinua Achebe, 1958
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Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe, 1958
GenevaBookClub: Things Fall Apart is acclaimed as the finest novel written about life in Nigeria at the end of the nineteenth century. Published in 1958, it is unquestionably the world’s most widely read African novel, having sold more than eight million copies in English and been translated into fifty languages. A simple story of a "strong man" whose life is dominated by fear and anger, Things Fall Apart is written with remarkable economy and subtle irony. Uniquely and richly African, at the same time it reveals Achebe's keen awareness of the human qualities common to men of all times and places.
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Thomas Hobbes, 1651
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Leviathan
Thomas Hobbes, 1651
GenevaBookClub: Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes (English, 1651): Named after the biblical Leviathan, this book concerns the structure of society and legitimate government, and is regarded as one of the earliest and most influential examples of social contract theory. Written during the English Civil War, Hobbes argues for a social contract and rule by an absolute sovereign. Hobbes wrote that chaos or civil war — situations identified with a state of nature and the famous Latin motto Bellum omnium contra omnes ("the war of all against all") — could only be averted by a strong central government.
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Victor Hugo, 1831
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The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
Victor Hugo, 1831
GenevaBookClub: This extraordinary historical novel, set in Medieval Paris under the twin towers of its greatest structure and supreme symbol, the cathedral of Notre-Dame, is the haunting drama of Quasimodo, the hunchback; Esmeralda, the gypsy dancer; and Claude Frollo, the priest tortured by the specter of his own damnation. Shaped by a profound sense of tragic irony, it is a work that gives full play to Victor Hugo's brilliant historical imagination and his remarkable powers of description.
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John Steinbeck, 1939
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The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck, 1939
GenevaBookClub: First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.
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Joseph Heller, 1961
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Catch-22
Joseph Heller, 1961
GenevaBookClub: The novel is set during World War II, from 1942 to 1944. It mainly follows the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp, who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home.
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Unknown, 900
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One Thousand and One Nights
Unknown, 900
GenevaBookClub: A collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. Scholars generally date the collection's genesis to around the 9th century. The stories proceed from a singular, original tale; some are framed within other tales, while others begin and end of their own accord. Historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques and various forms of erotica. In one story, a misogynist king begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him. The tales vary widely. Some editions contain stories from only a few hundred nights, while others include 1001 or more.
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Howard Gardner, 2006
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Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice
Howard Gardner, 2006
GenevaBookClub: Howard Gardner's brilliant conception of individual competence has changed the face of education in the twenty-three years since the publication of his classic work, Frames of Mind. Since then thousands of educators, parents, and researchers have explored the practical implications and applications of Multiple Intelligences theory--the powerful notion that there are separate human capacities, ranging from musical intelligence to the intelligence involved in self-understanding.
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Harold S. Kushner, 1957
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When Bad Things Happen to Good People
Harold S. Kushner, 1957
GenevaBookClub: The book features Rabbi Kushner's perspective on how people can better deal with evil that enters their lives. Rarely does a book come along that tackles a perennially difficult human issue with such clarity and intelligence. Harold Kushner, a Jewish rabbi facing his own child's fatal illness, deftly guides us through the inadequacies of the traditional answers to the problem of evil, then provides a uniquely practical and compassionate answer that has appealed to millions of readers across all religious creeds. Remarkable for its intensely relevant real-life examples and its fluid prose, this book cannot go unread by anyone who has ever been troubled by the question: "Why me?"
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Douglas Adams, 1995
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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams, 1995
GenevaBookClub: Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don't forget to bring a towel!
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Milton Friedman, 1962
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Capitalism and Freedom
Milton Friedman, 1962
GenevaBookClub: Friedman begins with a discussion of the principles of a truly liberal society. He then applies those principles to a range of pressing problems, including monetary policy, discrimination, education, income distribution, welfare, and poverty. The result is a clear and accessible book that has sold well over half a million copies in English, has been translated into eighteen languages, and shows every sign of becoming more and more influential, especially as more and more governments turn from highly planned economies to embrace free-market economics. And for latest edition, Friedman adds a preface discussing different forms of freedom - political, economic, and civil - and considering how recent events, like the reunification of Germany and the collapse of the Soviet Union, have changed the climate of economic opinion throughout the world.
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Dante Alighieri, 1320
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Inferno
Dante Alighieri, 1320
GenevaBookClub: Dante's Inferno, widely hailed as one of the great classics of Western literature, details Dante's journey through the nine circles of Hell. The voyage begins during Easter week in the year 1300, the descent through Hell starting on Good Friday. After meeting his guide, the eminent Roman poet Virgil, in a mythical dark wood, the two poets begin their descent through a baleful world of doleful shades, horrifying tortures, and unending lamentation. Written in the early fourteenth century by Italian politician Dante Alighieri, the Divine Comedy is a literary reaction to the bitterly contested politics of medieval Florence. The Divine Comedy is Dante's fictional account of himself traveling through the three divine realms: Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Not surprisingly, in this story Dante puts his enemies in Hell; the Inferno is heavily populated with corrupt Florentine politicians characterized as sinners.
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Evelyn Waugh, 1945
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Brideshead Revisited
Evelyn Waugh, 1945
GenevaBookClub: The story of the Marchmain family. Aristocratic, beautiful and charming, the Marchmains are indeed a symbol of England and her decline in this novel of the upper class of the 1920s and the abdication of responsibility in the 1930s. Brideshead Revisited is now so widely acclaimed that it is hard to believe that it was not always so. Yet the fact is that both book and author were heavily criticized at the time of its first publication in 1945. How was it that such an enduring favorite should have met with such a hostile reception?
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Charlotte Bronte, 1847
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Jane Eyre
Charlotte Bronte, 1847
GenevaBookClub: A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre has dazzled generations of readers with its depiction of a woman's quest for freedom. Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor-qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved?
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