Book Talks 2nd Qtr

Book Talks
The purpose of this list is to give you classic
and contemporary novels of literary merit.
Main thing you need to do: go to Amazon
and read reviews. Beware of spoilers.
Not every book from the list is in one of
these categories.
Magical Realism/Latin American Lit.
The House of Spirits
Like Water for Chocolate
100 Years of Solitude
Bless Me Ultima
This genre is often about family relationships and
generations and the weirdness within. Love, violence, and war
often appear. People often die in these. You don’t always get
resolution or happy endings, but that doesn’t mean that good
things don’t happen. These blur the line between reality and
history and things happen that defy the laws of physics, but they’re
not fantasy genre.
Dystopian Societies or Settings w/unique/weird perspectives on
The Handmaid’s Tale (by Margaret Atwood)
Brave New World
The Fountainhead –Objectivism- rational self-interest, denounces
altruism. Characters exist as symbols to prove a point. Egoism is
an absolute moral good and therefore anything (people, systems)
that blocks individual freedom is evil
Atlas Shrugged –tries to demonstrate what would happen to the
world if economic freedom were lost –
collapse of production
and rise of corruption.
Period Pieces (usually English) that you’d see on Masterpiece
Theater. Mostly 19th c. lit. for Anglophiles.
Pretty much all of these involve romance, relationships,
and complications therein. Character-driven, but lots of
plot. Social class is often an issue, esp. w/people who
don’t fit in. All have fascinating, complex characters, lots
of imagery, and rich descriptions of people, not all of
whom will survive until the end of the book. Laughter
and tears.
Period Pieces continued…
Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights
Moll Flanders
Edith Wharton’s stuff- an American Jane Austen, except sadder, class cons. and
George Eliot’s stuff - rural or small villages in England, v. strong characters,
death/love, these tend to be long w/small print.
Thomas Hardy’s stuff
stuff will happen in these books, lots of plot.
E. M. Forster’s stuff
-English people abroad, love, social class
The English Patient
- love triangle/tragedy/betrayal/war/death
Possession – A. S. Byatt
Madame Bovary by Flaubert
Epic (and usually long) Novels w/casts of 100’s and lots of
Most things by Dickens and Thackery
Count of Monte Cristo, Three Musketeers, Hunchback, Man in the
Iron Mask,
Ivanhoe -medieval world, Saxon v. Norman, Xtian Knights v.
Jews, Robin Hood, jousting, v. descriptive like you wouldn’t
believe. Great book but have patience and take time w/it.
Tom Jones
Last of the Mohicans
Small town/Turn of the Century America and the Issues
Sister Carrie – 18yr old country woman moves to Chicago in 1900
and becomes a kept woman
Babbit, Main Street - Mark Twain-ish, small town life and foibles
of the people, Thornton Wilderish
The Jungle, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - tenement life, immigrants
struggling against the odds
Asian/American Lit.
The Good Earth
- This is the story of the cyclical nature of
life, of the passions and desires that motivate a human being, of
good and evil, and of the desire to survive and thrive against great
odds. It begins with the story of an illiterate, poor, peasant farmer,
Wang Lung, who ventures from the rural countryside and goes to
town to the great house of Hwang to obtain a bride from those
among the rank of slave. There, he is given the slave O-lan as his
Snow Falling on Cedars (also war-related)
(2nd semester you can do Amy Tan and Memoirs of a Geisha)
War, Politics, Fitting into a New Culture
Catch 22
All the King’s Men
All Quiet on the Western Front
The Kite Runner (warning! Limited!)
A Farewell to Arms
The Sun Also Rises
Race, Ethnicity, Religious, Moral Issues
Invisible Man
Cry Beloved Country
Bless Me, Ultima
The Kite Runner
Davita’s Harp, The Chosen
The Scarlet Letter
Crime and Punishment
Going to Other Countries, or Journeys Across This One, and
Trying to Deal
Out of Africa (not much plot/much imagery and mood)
All the Pretty Horses – he rides his horse down to Mexico.
Beautiful story of a young man who falls in love with the daughter
of his boss on a Mexican ranch and the stuff that happens on the way
and afterwards. Full of mood, imagery, setting stuff, adventure
The Grapes of Wrath
Last of the Mohicans
A Farewell to Arms
The Sun Also Rises