Bookshelf Favorites

 

Below are some of my favorite authors and their classic novels. Not only do they inspire us through their narrative lyricism and spellbinding stories, but they captivate the imagination and transform our way of seeing worlds, real or invented.

 

Click on the Amazon.com Review link for each Amazon editorial review to go directly to the page that contains additional reviews and ordering information.

 

ISBN-10: 0060883286

ISBN-13: 978-0060883287

 

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel García Márquez

 

Amazon.com Review (from the Amazon.com website)

 

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

It is typical of Gabriel García Márquez that it will be many pages before his narrative circles back to the ice, and many chapters before the hero of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Buendía, stands before the firing squad. In between, he recounts such wonders as an entire town struck with insomnia, a woman who ascends to heaven while hanging laundry, and a suicide that defies the laws of physics:

 

A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.

 "Holy Mother of God!" Úrsula shouted.

 

The story follows 100 years in the life of Macondo, a village founded by José Arcadio Buendía and occupied by descendants all sporting variations on their progenitor's name: his sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano, and grandsons, Aureliano José, Aureliano Segundo, and José Arcadio Segundo. Then there are the women--the two Úrsulas, a handful of Remedios, Fernanda, and Pilar--who struggle to remain grounded even as their menfolk build castles in the air. If it is possible for a novel to be highly comic and deeply tragic at the same time, then One Hundred Years of Solitude does the trick. Civil war rages throughout, hearts break, dreams shatter, and lives are lost, yet the effect is literary pentimento, with sorrow's outlines bleeding through the vibrant colors of García Márquez's magical realism. Consider, for example, the ghost of Prudencio Aguilar, whom José Arcadio Buendía has killed in a fight. So lonely is the man's shade that it haunts Buendía's house, searching anxiously for water with which to clean its wound. Buendía's wife, Úrsula, is so moved that "the next time she saw the dead man uncovering the pots on the stove she understood what he was looking for, and from then on she placed water jugs all about the house."

 

With One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez introduced Latin American literature to a world-wide readership. Translated into more than two dozen languages, his brilliant novel of love and loss in Macondo stands at the apex of 20th-century literature. --Alix Wilber

 

ISBN-10: 0061122416

ISBN-13: 978-0061122415

 

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho

 

Amazon.com Review (from the Amazon.com website)

 

"My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky." Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams."

 

The Alchemist is the magical story of an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist.

 

The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams.

 

Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. The Alchemist is such a book. With over a million and a half copies sold around the world, The Alchemist has already established itself as a modern classic, universally admired. Paulo Coelho's charming fable, now available in English for the first time, will enchant and inspire an even wider audience of readers for generations to come.

ISBN-10: 0553383809

ISBN-13: 978-0553383805

 

The House of the Spirits

Isabel Allende

 

Amazon.com Review (from the Amazon.com website)

 

In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.

 

The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.

ISBN-10: 0140286802

ISBN-13: 978-0140286809

 

 

 

 

Collected fictions

Jorge Luis Borges

 

Amazon.com Review (from the Amazon.com website)

 

The complete fiction of Jorge Luis Borges, whom Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa calls “the most important Spanish-language writer since Cervantes”

 

For the first time in English, all of the best Latin American writer Jorge Luis Borges’s dazzling fictions are collected in a single volume in brilliant new translations by Andrew Hurley. From his 1935 debut with The Universal History of Iniquity through his immensely influential collections Ficciones and The Aleph, the enigmatic prose poems of The Maker, up to his final work in the 1980s, Shakespeare’s Memory, these enigmatic, elaborate, imaginative inventions display Borges’s talent for turning fiction on its head by playing with form and genre and toying with language.

 

For some fifty years, in intriguing and ingenious fictions that reimagined the very form of the short story, Borges returned again and again to his celebrated themes: dreams, duels, labyrinths, mirrors, infinite libraries, the manipulations of chance, gauchos, knife fighters, tigers, and the elusive nature of identity itself. Playfully experimenting with ostensibly subliterary genres, Borges took the detective story and turned it into metaphysics; he took fantasy writing and made it, with its questioning and reinventing of everyday reality, central to the craft of fiction; he took the literary essay and put it to use reviewing wholly imaginary books.

 

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth, this edition at last brings together all of Borges’s magical short stories. Collected Fictions is the definitive one-volume compendium for all those who have long loved Borges, and a superb introduction to the Argentine master’s work for those who have yet to discover him.

 

ISBN-10: 140003342X

ISBN-13: 978-1400033423

Song of Solomon

Toni Morrison

 

Amazon.com Review (from the Amazon.com website)

 

Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.

 

 

 

ISBN-10: 0143034901

ISBN-13: 978-0143034902

 

 

Shadow of the Wind

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

 

Amazon.com Review (from the Amazon.com website)

 

"Gabriel García Márquez meets Umberto Eco meets Jorge Luis Borges for a sprawling magic show." --The New York Times Book Review

 

A New York Times Bestseller

 

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.

 

“ Anyone who enjoys novels that are scary, erotic, touching, tragic and thrilling should rush right out to the nearest bookstore and pick up The Shadow of the Wind. Really, you should.” --Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

 

 "Wonderous... masterful... The Shadow of the Wind is ultimately a love letter to literature, intended for readers as passionate about storytelling as its young hero." --Entertainment Weekly (Editor's Choice)

 

"One gorgeous read." --Stephen King

ISBN-10: 0451225996

ASIN: B002HREKEQ

 

Cathedral of the Sea

Ildefonso Falcones

 

Amazon.com Review (from the Amazon.com website)

 

The “riveting”(The Washington Post) #1 international bestseller—now in paperback in the U.S.

 

In the tradition of Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, here is a thrilling historical novel of friendship and revenge, plague and hope, love and war, set in the golden age of 14th-century Barcelona. Arnau Estanyol arrives in Barcelona and joins the powerful guild of stone-workers building the magnificent cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar, while his adoptive brother Joan studies to become a priest. As Arnau prospers, he secretly falls in love with a forbidden woman. When he is betrayed and hauled before the Inquisitor, he finds himself face-to-face with his own brother. Will he lose his life just as his beloved cathedral is finally completed, or will his brother spare him?

ISBN-10: 0385319959

ISBN-13: 978-0385319959

Outlander

Diana Gabaldon

 

Amazon.com Review (from the Amazon.com website)

 

In Outlander, a 600-page time-travel romance, strong-willed and sensual Claire Randall leads a double life with a husband in one century, and a lover in another. Torn between fidelity and desire, she struggles to understand the pure intent of her heart. But don't let the number of pages and the Scottish dialect scare you. It's one of the fastest reads you'll have in your library.

While on her second honeymoon in the British Isles, Claire touches a boulder that hurls her back in time to the forbidden Castle Leoch with the MacKenzie clan. Not understanding the forces that brought her there, she becomes ensnared in life-threatening situations with a Scots warrior named James Fraser. But it isn't all spies and drudgery that she must endure. For amid her new surroundings and the terrors she faces, she is lured into love and passion like she's never known before.

A Prayer for Owen Meany: A Novel

John Irving

 

Amazon.com Review (from the Amazon.com website)

 

I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.

ISBN-10: 0062204092

ISBN-13: 978-0062204097

Thanks for checking out some of these perennial favorites.
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