Winsor Upper School Reading List

Click on genres in the table of contents below to skip to the genre that interests you. Also, to check whether an author or title is on the list, you can go to the "Edit" drop-down menu, click "Find," and type the name in the box.

FICTION: 19th Century and Earlier


Austen, Jane.* Pride and Prejudice (1797) 

The delicious English novel about marriages and misperceptions.

Beowulf (7th-10th century) 

Anglo-saxon epic depicts Beowulf’s great battles against monsters and dragons.  Try the dual-language version!

Bronte, Anne.* The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) 

English novel dealing with secrets that prevent love and marriage.

Bronte, Charlotte.* Villette (1853) 

An impoverished young Englishwoman in Europe turns to teaching to survive.

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights (1847) 

Passionate, romantic novel of love and hate set on the English moors.

Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote (1605) 

Tilting at windmills--the clash between idealism and reality in 17thC Spain.

Chekhov, Anton.* Stories (1884-1902) 

“The Darling,” “The Grasshopper," and other favorites by the Russian master of the short story.

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening and Other Stories (1899) 

A wife and mother realizes that she must make her own way and not live in the shadows of society's and her family's demands.

Collins, Wilkie.* The Moonstone (1868) 

Stylish, mysterious early English detective novel.

Conrad, Joseph.* Heart of Darkness (1899) 

A short, challenging novel of imperialism and corruption in the Congo. 

Defoe, Daniel. Moll Flanders (1722 ) 

One of England’s earliest novels, about urban low life, adventure, and self-sufficiency.

Dickens, Charles.* Great Expectations (1861), David Copperfield (1850), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870) 

In the first, a poor orphan named Pip comes into an inheritance which causes him only trouble; in the second, orphans, child labor, love complications, sycophants and schoolmasters all play roles in a long, wonderfully plotted novel; the third, Dickens’ short, last work, is unfinished. You decide the ending.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor.* Crime andPunishment  (1866)       

The effects of poverty and degradation on a sensitive intellectual.

Doyle, Arthur Conan.* The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1887)

A collection of short stories and mysteries to be solved by the master sleuth.


Dumas, Alexandre.  The Three Musketeers (1844)

The classic historical novel about a country boy who finds adventure and intrigue in 17th century Paris.  Try the new illustrated Penguin addition if you like comic books!


Eliot, George. * The Mill on the Floss (1860)

English novel exploring young adult gender roles in a rural environment.


Flaubert, Gustave. * Madame Bovary (1857)

French novel of a provincial woman who wants and seeks more than she has.


Gaskell, Elizabeth.* Wives and Daughters (1864)

English novel of relationships, marriage, and their complications.


Gogol Nicolai. Dead Souls (1842)

Satire on bureaucratic corruption in Russia (Read Vol. 1 only).


Hardy, Thomas.* Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1886)

A young woman struggles against societal constraints and the whims of fate.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel.* The House of Seven Gables (1851)

American novel with a centuries-old curse and romance; you can visit the actual house in Salem.

Hugo, Victor.*The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831)

French novel of medieval Paris in which Quasimodo, a deformed bell ringer, attempts to save Esmeralda.


James, Henry.* Washington Square (1881)

Is it better to marry for money, marry but be poor, or live alone?


Jewett, Sarah Orne. The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896)

A gentle novella set in Maine, full of scenic beauty.


Melville, Herman.* Moby Dick (1851)

Classic American story of a sea captain's obsession with a great white whale.


Murasaki, Lady. The Tale of Genji (c. 1020)

Classic Japanese tale of court society and courtly love.


Poe, Edgar Allan.* Complete Tales and Poems (1833-48)

This collection by a master of the short story includes "Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Tell-Tale Heart."

Pushkin, Alexander. The Collected Stories (1830-36)

Marvelous stories, such as "The Captain's Daughter" and "The Queen of Spades," from the great Russian poet.

Qin, Cao Xue. The Dream of the Red Chamber (c. 1750)

Chinese novel chronicling the lives of an upper-class family.

Scott, Sir Walter.* Ivanhoe (1819)

A knightly romance with much derring-do set in the era of Richard I.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein (1818)

Romantic novel exploring issues raised by bringing the dead back to life.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula (1897)

English novel of a vampire told through letters, diaries, and narratives.


Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)

Abolitionist novel, touchstone for later treatments of American slavery.


Swift, Jonathan.* Gulliver's Travels (1726)

Satiric Irish work about the travels of Lemuel Gulliver to the land of the tiny Lilliputians, the giant Brobdignagians, and other fanciful creatures.


Thackeray, William.* Vanity Fair (1848)

English novel of two women, one sweet and complacent, the other socially ambitious, during the Napoleonic era.


Tolstoy, Leo.*Anna Karenina (1877)

Classic novel of love, marriage, and adultery with an unforgettable heroine.


Trollope, Anthony.* The Eustace Diamonds (1873)

Satiric novel of the effect of money on sexual and marital relations.


Turgenev, Ivan.* Fathers and Sons (1862)

A novel of the relationship between generations, set just before the emancipation of the Russian serfs.


Twain, Mark.* The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1844)

Classic American novel satirizing civilization and slavery that focuses on the relationship between a white boy and a runaway slave.


Voltaire. Candide (1759)

French satire about the nature of the world and how one lives in it.


Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

A fashionable young man sells his soul for youth and good looks.



FICTION: 20th and 21st Century


Achebe, Chinua.* Things Fall Apart (1958)

A classic tale of changes in an African village after the arrival of missionaries.


Adichie, Chimamanda Ngori, The Thing Around Your Neck (2009)

A short story collection about the experience of Nigerians and Nigerian-Americans in both countries.


Agee, James.  A Death in the Family (1958)

How the death of the father changes a family--told from each member's view.


Alexie, Sherman.* The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993)

Stories of a Coeur d'Alene Native American youth on a reservation.


Ali, Tariq.* The Stone Woman (2000)

Middle Eastern novel of the decline of the Ottoman empire.


Allende, Isabel.* House of the Spirits (1982)

Mysterious, imaginative chronicle of a Chilean family.


Allingham, Marjorie.* The China Governess (1964)

Albert Campion, an upper-class sleuth, unravels a family’s mystery.


Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of the Butterflies(1994)

Four sisters living under an oppressive regime in the Dominican Republic face difficult decisions about seeking education and joining a revolution.


Anderson, Sherwood.  Winesburg, Ohio (1919)

Vignettes of small town life in the early 1900s reveal the lost goals and dark twists that plague many people.


Anaya, Rudolfo.  Bless Me, Ultima (1972)

Exquisite, mystical novel: Ultima is a curandera, a healer who comes to live with her family in New Mexico, including a grandson who shares her magic.


Asimov, Isaac.* Foundation (1951)

The sci-fi classic, first in a series, about the Galactic Empire.


Atkinson, Kate. Case Histories (2004)

A study of past crimes in Cambridge, England in a detective-thriller format.


Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake (2003) 

Sci-fi, the first about the last human left alive after the catastrophic effects of genetic technology and climate change; the second, set in Cambridge, MA, about women fighting subjugation in an oppressive future society.


Babel, Isaac. Collected Stories (1975)

Once suppressed in Russia, these include "Red Cavalry" and "Tales of Odessa."


Barker, Pat. Regeneration (1993)

First novel in a trilogy about the front lines in WWI.


Baldwin, James.* Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)

The 14th birthday of a young black man leads him to examine his race, religious roots, heritage, and place in American society.


Bambara, Toni Cade.* Gorilla My Love (1992)

Short stories with strong-voiced, unforgettable characters.


Barbery, Muriel. The Elegance of the Hedgehog (2008)

The unlikely friendship of a philosophical concierge and a precocious young girl in a fancy Parisian apartment building. 


Bellow, Saul.* Henderson the Rain King (1959)

A mid-life crisis leads Henderson to fresh learning in an African environment.


Benioff, David. City of Thieves (2008)

A novel based on the author’s grandfather’s story of surviving WWII in Russia. 

Bennett, Alan.  The Uncommon Reader (2007)

A funny exploration of the wonders of reading through the imagined tale of the ways Queen Elizabeth II’s life would be affected if she wandered into a mobile library van and became an avid reader.


Bowen, Elizabeth.* The Last September (1925)

Coming of age in Ireland's aristocracy, under fading British rule.


Bradbury, Ray.* The Martian Chronicles (1950), Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

In the first book, earthlings find surprises on a trip to a destroyed civilization; in the second, firefighters start fires to eliminate free thought and the exchange of humanity's finest qualities.


Brink, André. A Dry White Season (1984)

A compelling novel of apartheid in 1970s South Africa.


Bulgahov, Mikhail. The Master and Margarita (1966)

A raucous comedy of life in Stalinist Russia, initially suppressed.


Burns, Olive Ann.  Cold Sassy Tree (1984)

A young boy's discovery and commentary on the lives and loves of adults in turn-of-the-20thC South.


Butler, Octavia. Kindred (1988)

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her 26th birthday in California when she is suddenly drawn back through time to a life of antebellum slavery.


Butler, Robert Olen. A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1993)

Pulitzer Prize-winning short stories about Vietnamese immigrants living in the Louisiana bayou.


Byatt, A.S.* Possession (1991)

A novel of mystery and romance as two contemporary scholars uncover the letters of two Victorian poets.


Camus, Albert.* The Plague (1947)

Classic French tale of an epidemic and the existential questions of the human spirit; it takes place in a North African seaport, but the message is universal.


Cao, Lan. The Monkey Bridge (1997)

Deep family secrets haunt a mother and daughter who have fled Vietnam.


Cather, Willa.* My Antonia (1918)

Antonia's life in pioneer Nebraska recounted by the man who loved her from childhood--a tale of the immigrant experience on the prairie.


Ceely, Jonatha.*  Mina (2004)

This novel by a former Winsor teacher follows a young woman fleeing to the US from the 19thC Irish potato famine.


Chabon, Michael.* The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2001)

About the rise of two young comic book artists, the fight against Nazism, and the radical changes in mid-20thC American society.


Chandra, Vikram. Love and Longing in Bombay (1997)

Masterful stories told by a mysterious narrator in a bar in the Indian city.


Cheever, John. The Stories of John Cheever (1978)

Mid-20thC slices of suburban American life by a short story master.


Chevalier, Tracy.* Girl With a Pearl Earring (1999)

Told by the artist’s model, this novel evokes the scents and sights of Vermeer’s studio and the 17thC Netherlands.


Cisneros, Sandra. * Woman Hollering Creek (1991)

Playful, vibrant stories of women's lives on both sides of the US-Mexican border.


Clarke, Arthur C.* Childhood’s End (1953)

The Overlords cure society’s ills, but at a cost....


Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2004)

The skills of two dueling magicians are called upon in England during the Napoleonic era.


Cleave, Chris. Little Bee (2009)

A 16 year-old Nigerian orphan’s experience after meeting a well-off British couple.


Coetzee, J.M. Disgrace (1999)

Booker Prize-winning novel about the changing relationship of a father and daughter seeking new lives in post-apartheid South Africa.


Coll, Susan. Acceptance (2007)

This satirical look at the college admissions process follows the experiences of three high school seniors and their parents.


Cunningham, Michael. The Hours (1998)

A day in the life of three women in different time periods, who are all connected by Virginia Woolf’s book Mrs. Dalloway.


Danticat, Edwidge.* The Farming of Bones (1998)

A searing story of human and political conflict in the Dominican and Haiti.


Davies, Robertson.* The Fifth Business (1970)

Fate, accident, and magic connect the lives of three Canadian boys.


Deane, Seamus. Reading in the Dark (1996)

The “Troubles” in Northern Ireland seen through the eyes of a child.


De Bernieres, Louis.* Corelli's Mandolin (1993)

The effect of World War II on the lyric lifestyle of a Greek island.


De Rosnay, Tatiana. Sarah's Key (2011)

The narration of the story shifts between 1942 and 2002, as the modern-day journalist seeks information about Sarah, the little girl who used to live in her apartment before being sent to Auschwitz.

Desai, Anita.* Games at Twilight and Other Stories (1978)

The author evokes the intersection of Eastern and Western cultures in this fine collection of stories set in Bombay.

Desai, Kiran.* The Inheritance of Loss (2006), Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard (1998) 

The first is the Booker Prize-winning novel of a beautiful town in 1980’s India, the Nepalese movement for independence, and the threatened romance of 16-year-old Sai and her Nepalese tutor; in the second, the protagonist falls asleep in a tree and awakes a holy man.


Doctorow, E.L.* Ragtime (1975)

A fictional portrait, in remarkable syncopated prose, of the ragtime and jazz era leading up to World War I.

Dorris, Michael. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water (1987)

Multi-generational tale of Native American women on a Montana reservation.

Doyle, Roddy.* The Barrytown Trilogy (1992)

A Dublin family deals with trials and tribulations with wit and humor.

Dreiser, Theodore. Sister Carrie (1900)

A country girl moving to New York City becomes a mistress and an actress.


Du Maurier, Daphne.* Jamaica Inn (1936)

A dark night, mysterious guests, and a secret mean another haunting story by the author of Rebecca (also a great read!).

Dunnett, Dorothy. * Niccolo Rising (1986)

The first in an eight-novel historical adventure with a fascinating, ruthless hero.


Eco, Umberto.* The Name of the Rose (1980)

A chilling medieval murder mystery set in an isolated hilltop monastery.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man (1952)

 National Book Award winner and American classic of a young black man's journey to identity.

Enger, Leif. Peace Like a River (2002)

The novel tells of the Land family's cross-country search for young Reuben's outlaw older brother, who has been controversially charged with murder.

Erdrich, Louise. * The Round House (2012)

Set on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota the story of a boy who seeks justice in the aftermath of a terrible crime. 

Erdrich, Louise.* Love Medicine (1985)

The first in a series examining the intertwining lives of two Chippewa families in Minnesota.

Eugenides, Jeffrey. Middlesex (2002)

Crossed bloodlines, intricacies of gender, and the journey of genes and family.


Fallada, Hans and Michael Hofmann. Every Man Dies Alone (2010)

A gripping Nazi Germany tale of a righteous gentile's ill-fated effort to subvert the regime.

Faulkner, William.* As I Lay Dying (1930)

A stream-of-consciousness novel, told from the very different perspectives of family members who have just lost their mother.


Fforde, Jasper.* The Eyre Affair (2001)

A “book detective” in a fantasy future uncovers a plot to destroy the novel Jane Eyre, and she must enter the actual pages of the book to try to foil it.


Fitzgerald, F. Scott.* Tender Is the Night (1934)

A searing portrayal of American expatriates in France in the 1920s.


Fitzgerald, Penelope. The Golden Child (1977)

Archaeological mystery set in a London museum.


Flagg, Fannie Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café (1989)

An elderly lady in a nursing home tells enthralling tales of people she knew.

Foer, Jonathan. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2006)

An inquisitive and precocious 9-year old boy tries to make sense of his father’s death in the World Trade Center collapse by going on an adventure involving a mysterious key that belonged to his father.


Forster, E. M.* A Room with a View (1908)

English novel in which a young woman visiting Italy seeks true love.


Forward, Robert. Dragon’s Egg (1980)

Set on a neutron star where, because of molecular chemistry, life evolves a million times faster than on Earth.


Fowles, John.* The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969)

Passionate love story of a British officer and a mysterious woman.


Frazier, Charles. Cold Mountain (1997)

A wounded Confederate soldier walks home in hopes of reuniting with his love, who struggles to maintain her family farm.  Loosely based on The Odyssey.


Freudenberger, Nell. The Dissident (2006)

Set at a private school in L.A. about a visiting artist-in-residence from China.


Gaarder, Jostein. Sophie's World (1991)

A 14 year-old girl’s interest in, and discoveries about, philosophy.


Gabaldon, Diana. Outlander

A woman who time travels to the Scottish Highlands in 1743 must assimilate to a new culture and solicit help from the clansmen who capture her in this romantic, historical adventure story. 


Gaiman, Neil and Prachett, Terry. Good Omens (1990)

A zany tale about Armageddon and the Apocalypse.


Gaines, Ernest. * A Lesson Before Dying (1993)

A teacher must help a man prepare to die for a crime he did not commit.


Garcia Marquez, Gabriel.* Love in the Time of Cholera (1985)

The classic Latin American novel of love remembered.


Ghosh, Amitav. The Shadow Lines (1988), Sea of Poppies (2009)

The first involves the friendship between two English and Indian families that survives many tensions. The second is an epic adventure involving the opium trade in nineteenth century Calcutta.


Glass, Julia. Three Junes (2002)

Follows the life of a Scottish family over the course of three fateful summers.


Goldberg, Myla. Bee Season (2003)

A young girl wins her father’s attention by first winning a spelling bee.


Golden, Arthur. Memoirs of a Geisha (1997)

A story of ambition and loss in the making of a 1930s Japanese geisha.


Golding, William. The Lord of the Flies (1954)

A group of castaway British schoolboys faces its own inherent savagery.


Gordimer, Nadine.* The House Gun (1998)

A post-apartheid South African novel exposes oppression by the privileged.


Gregory, Philippa. The Other Boleyn Girl (2002)

Two sisters compete for the love of a king.


Greene, Graham.* Our Man in Havana (1958), The End of the Affair (1951)

In the first, a British salesman becomes involved in an international spy ring; in the second, the reader comes to see that an affair of the heart must be spiritual.


Gruen, Sara. Water for Elephants (2007)

This historical fiction set in the Depression era follows a veteran who runs away, joins the circus, and falls in love with a beautiful elephant trainer.


Guterson, David. Snow Falling on Cedars (1994)

A small northwestern fishing village suspects a Japanese-American man of murder in the wake of World War II in this novel that addresses the scars of Japanese internment camps.


Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2002)

British story of a brilliant but autistic 15 year-old boy who sets out to solve the mystery of his neighbor’s dog’s death and discovers unexpected family secrets.


Hambly, Barbara. The Emancipator's Wife (2008) Historical fiction about Mary Todd Lincoln.


Hamid, Moshin. The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)

Traces the effects of September 11 on a young Pakistani man, educated in America and working a high-paying job in New York.


Hamid, Moshin. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2012)

Written in second-person and crafted as a self-help book for someone coming of age in the “developing world,” this book takes the reader through the rapid pace of change and the realities of poverty in Pakistan.


Hammett, Dashiel.* The Maltese Falcon (1930)

Sam Spade is the first of the hard-boiled private investigators.


Harding, Paul. Tinkers (2010)

Pulitzer Prize winning debut by a local author about the reminiscences of a man on his deathbed surrounded by his family in his New England home.


Harris, Robert. Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome (2007)

Narrated by Cicero’s slave, Imperium charts the beginning of a quest for political glory by a man who fought his way to the top using only his voice -- defeating the most powerful, villainous, and often scandalous figures in Roman history.


Harris, Robert.  Pompeii: A Novel (2005)

Set during the last days of summer along the luxurious Mediterranean coast and told through the character of a young engineer responsible for the aqueduct, this novel tells the story of the days leading up to the eruption of Vesuvius.


Hazzard, Shirley.* The Great Fire (2002)

Australian novel of post-World War II Japan, in which a young woman falls in love with an unsuitable man.


Head, Bessie.* Maru (1971)

Life in a village in Botswana and the conflict between Maru and Moleka in their love for the same woman.


Heller, Joseph.* Catch-22 (1961)

A hilarious anti-war novel about American soldiers overseas in World War II.


Hemingway, Ernest. * In Our Time (1925), A Farewell to Arms (1929)

The first is a wonderful collection of short stories set in the US; the second is the classic World War I love story of an American soldier and a nurse.


Herbert, Frank.* Dune (1965)

The first in the classic sci-fi series featuring sandworms, time, and space.


Herschman, Marcie. Tales of the Master Race (1991)

Set in a small village in Nazi Germany, each story reflects the human impact of the quoted Nazi government laws that preface the chapter.


Hesse, Herman. * Siddartha (1922)

A young man meets Buddha and sets out on his own path in search of truth and self-understanding--a sensitive philosophical novel.


Hillerman, Tony.* A Thief of Time (1989)

A Navajo mystery mixes traditional beliefs with a police investigation.


Hilton, James. Lost Horizon (1933)

The tale of Shangri-La, the mysterious Tibetan “paradise” where no one seems to age; a group of British travelers must decide whether to stay or go.


Hosseini, Khaled.* The Kite Runner (2003)

What happens to two friends during the Taliban occupation of Afghanistan.


Hughes, Richard. A High Wind in Jamaica (1929)

Less-than-competent pirates abduct a group of children on the high seas, with unexpected consequences.


Hulme, Kerry. The Bone People (1984)

Prize-winning tale of tensions between Maori and Europeans in New Zealand.


Hurston, Zora Neale.* The Complete Stories (1970)

American stories powerful in theme, folklore, and language by the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God.


Huxley, Aldous.* Brave New World (1932)

A sanitized future in which creativity and freedom have been lost to power.


Ibuse, Masuji. Black Rain (1965)

A young Japanese woman suffers and survives after the Hiroshima bombing.


Irving, John.* A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989)

American novel of how children try to make sense of the world during wartime—in this case the Viet Nam War of the 1960s and 1970s.


Ishiguro, Kazuo.* The Remains of the Day (1989), Never Let Me Go (2006)

In the first, a British butler’s reflections on his life lead him to some profound truths.  The second explores a British boarding school that trains its students for sinister purposes.


James, P. D.* Devices and Desires (1989)

Inspector Dalgleish is one of the best and most clever of British sleuths.


Jen, Gish.* Mona in the Promised Land (1996)

A comic novel about the trials and tribulations of an Asian-American teenager.

Jin, Ha. Waiting (1999)

A Chinese army doctor, trapped in an arranged marriage, falls in love with a nurse.


Johnson, William Weldon. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912)

The classic autobiographical novel of a biracial American.


Joyce, James.* Dubliners (1906)

Subtle short stories of Irish lives and manners.


Kafka, Franz.* The Metamorphosis (1915)

Wry surrealist novella about a man who awakes to find himself an insect.


Kazantzakis, Nicholas. Zorba the Greek (1946)

Zorba lives an exuberant life, touching all those around him.


Kerouac, Jack.* On the Road (1957)

The classic “road trip” novel of Beat Generation young people searching for enlightenment across America.


Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)

An inmate in a mental institution hilariously defies his diagnosis and confinement.


Kidd, Sue Monk. The Secret Life of Bees (2002)

A Southern white girl searches for understanding of her dysfunctional family while living with caring black women.


King, Laurie. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (1994)

Stunning time-travel mystery in which Sherlock Holmes takes on a female partner.


Kingsolver, Barbara.* Animal Dreams (1990)

A woman returning to her New Mexico home remembers dreams and spirits.


Knowles, John. A Separate Peace (1959)

Two boys and their friends come of age at the Devon School (modeled on Phillips Academy Exeter) during World War II.


Kogawa, Joy. Obasan (1981)

During World War II a Canadian family of Japanese heritage suffers suspicion.


Kostova, Elizabeth. The Historian (2005)

A motherless American girl in Europe discovers a packet of letters that connect her to Dracula and the mysterious history of Istanbul.


Kundera, Milos.* The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984)

A surreal European novel of love, commitment, choice, and existence.


Lahiri, Jhumpa.* Interpreter of Maladies (2000)

Short stories about Indian-American cross-cultural identity and the search for meaning.


Larsen, Nella. Passing (1929)

Classic story of a light-skinned black woman who chooses to “pass” for white and experiences unanticipated consequences.


Lawrence, D.H.* Sons and Lovers (1913)

A sensitive young man flees the British coal mining life to become an artist.


LeCarré, John.* The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (1965)

A British spy in the Cold War has to figure out who is trying to double-cross him, the enemy or someone in his own intelligence organization.


Lee, Chang Rae.* A Gesture Life (1999)

A Japanese-Korean man living in America questions his life.


LeGuin, Ursula. The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)

On the planet Gethen everyone is two genders, confusing an Earthling visitor.


Lethem, Jonathan.* Motherless Brooklyn (1999)

A detective with Tourette’s syndrome pursues his mentor’s murderer.


Lewis. C. S.* Out of the Silent Planet (1938)

By the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, the first volume in a Christian-oriented trilogy exploring good and evil in the Universe.


Maalouf, Amin. Leo Africanus (1986)

An historical novel of a mysterious traveler in the 16thC Middle East.


MacLaverty, Bernard. Cal (1995)

A political love story featuring a teenager in Northern Ireland.


Maguire, Gregory. Wicked (1995)

A satiric “life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West.”


Mahfouz, Naguib.* Palace Walk (1956)

The first book in a trilogy about a Muslim family living in early 20thC Cairo.

Malamud, Bernard.* The Assistant (1980)

Cultural conflict as an Italian-American drifter falls for a Jewish grocer’s daughter.


Mann, Thomas.* Death in Venice (1912)

German novella of the quest for beauty and a forbidden love.


Marshall, Paule.* Brown Girl, Brownstones (1980)

A Caribbean-American girl comes of age in New York City.


Martel, Yann. Life of Pi (2001)

Fanciful philosophical tale of a shipwrecked young Indian man who must share his lifeboat with a tiger.


McLain, Paula. The Paris Wife  (2011)

A novel about Ernest Hemingway, his first wife Hadley, and their life in Paris in the 1920s.


McCann, Colum.  Let the Great World Spin (2009)

Beginning with the morning in 1974 when a man walked a tight-rope between the twin towers, this novel elegantly weaves together five narratives and shows the interconnectedness of seemingly disparate lives.


McCullers, Carson.* The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940)

An American novel of lonely people, including a teenage girl and a deaf-mute in whom everyone confides.


McEwan, Ian.* Atonement (2002)

Psychological and post-modern novel about the search for truth.


Mieville, China. Perdido Street Station (2000)

A scientist in the massive city of New Crobuzon tries to help a bird-man stripped of his wings to fly once more but accidentally sets loose several giant mind-eating moths.


Miller, William. A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959)

After the destruction of the known world, how do the survivors recreate what they knew?


Mishima, Yukio.* The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (1963)

The role of violence, peer pressure, and family in a Japanese adolescent’s life.


Mistry, Rohinton.* A Fine Balance (1995)

Four diverse characters learn to depend on each other in contemporary India.


Momaday, Scott. House Made of Dawn (1969)

Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of Native American identity and alienation.


Morgenstern, Erin. The Night Circus (2011)

A dark story of love and magic in which the circus is the venue chosen for a competition between two illusionists. Neither contestant knows the identity of the other or understands the full implications of the game.


Moore, Brian.* The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1955)

A lonely, devout Irish woman deals poorly with her despair.


Moore, Lorrie.* The Gate at the Stairs (2009), Who Will Run the Frog Hospital (1994)

The first is a contemporary portrait of a mid-western college town through the eyes of a student and nanny.  In the second a women contemplating divorce reminisces about her teenage years.


Morrison, Toni.* Beloved (1987)

Stunning, complex novel of a former slave’s struggles in the troubled years following the Civil War, as the spirit of a murdered child haunts her.


Mortimer, John.* Rumpole of the Bailey (1978)

Mystery in the legal chambers with a funny--and stodgy--British character.


Mukherjee, Bharati.* Desirable Daughters (2002)

Marriage and cultural conflict, American and Indian, spanning decades.


Nabokov, Vladimir.* Lolita (1955)

Disturbing psychological novel of a pedophile who idealizes a 12 year-old girl.


Naipaul, V. S.* A Bend in the River (1979)

A modern-day Heart of Darkness focuses on an Indian in a recently decolonized African country.


Naslund, Sena Jeter. Ahab’s Wife (1999)

A retelling of the classic Moby Dick from a woman’s point of view.


Ng, Fae Myenne. Bone (1993)

A young Chinese-American woman tries to understand her sister’s suicide.


O’Connor, Flannery.* The Complete Stories (1965)

Sometimes hilarious, sometimes shocking, superb short stories of Southerners.


Olsen, Tillie. Tell Me A Riddle (1961)

Four fine stories, the first about a mother-daughter relationship.


Ondaatje, Michael.* Anil’s Ghost (2000)

A political novel set in the Sri Lankan civil war of the 1990’s focusing on a human rights investigator.


O’Neill, Joseph. Netherland (2008)

Post 9-11, a man seeks solace in his love of New York and cricket.  Echoes of Gatsby.


Orczy, Baroness. The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905)

Swashbuckling historical romance about a handsome, glamorous spy in the time of the French Revolution.


Orringer, Julie. How to Breathe Underwater (2004)  Gripping stories of contemporary adolescents trying to deal with the “real world” of life and death issues they find behind the veneer of everyday life.


Orwell, George.* 1984 (1949)

A grim vision of a totalitarian society of the future in which “Big Brother is watching you” every moment of the day.


Oyeyemi, Helen. The Icarus Girl (2006)

Written by an 18 year-old British girl, the novel tells of a troubled girl who is haunted by family secrets and divided in her feelings about the land of her father, England, and that of her mother, Nigeria.


Oz, Amos.* Panther in the Basement (1998)

A 12 year-old boy survives the final year, 1947, of British control in Israel.


Pasternak, Boris. Dr. Zhivago (1957)

A complex love story set during the Russian Revolution of 1917.


Patchett, Ann.* Bel Canto (2005)

Terrorists taking over an embassy in a Latin American country develop unexpected relationships with their prisoners, one of whom is an opera singer.


Patchett, Ann. Run (2008)

A fictional former mayor of Boston and his wife adopt two black boys who later meet their biological mother and half-sister under dramatic circumstances.   The novel explores race, family history, and the aspirations of young people.


Patchett, Ann. State of Wonder (2012)

A great story of a young scientist who goes to the Amazon to find her colleague who has been missing and reported dead. 


Paton, Alan.* Cry the Beloved Country (1948)

The powerful classic about a South African pastor and his estranged son, set in the troubled, racist South Africa of the 1940’s.


Pears, Iain. Instance of the Fingerpost (1997)

A fine historical murder mystery of the 1600’s.


Penman, Sharon Kay. Cruel as the Grave (1998)

Eleanor of Aquitaine connives against her own son, King John, as murder abounds.


Perez-Reverte, Arturo. The Flanders Panel (1990)

An old Dutch painting carries the secret to a murder mystery.


Petry, Ann. The Street (1946)

A novel of race and injustice set in 1940’s Harlem.


Potok, Chaim.* The Chosen (1967)

Two Jewish boys in New York City struggle with faith and friendship.


Proulx, Annie.* Close Range (2000)

Short stories of the West, including “Brokeback Mountain.”


Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, or The Amber Spyglass (1995) These volumes from the Dark Materials trilogy deal with a remarkable world parallel to our own.


Pym, Barbara.* Excellent Women (1952)

A novel about a British woman wittily probes gender and social issues.


Rawles, Nancy. My Jim (2005)

Huck Finn’s Jim’s anonymous wife tells the story of herself and her husband.


Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front (1929)

A young German soldier’s grim frontline experiences in World War I.


Renault, Mary.* The King Must Die (1958)

Modern retelling of the myth of Theseus and the half-man half-bull Minotaur.


Richler, Mordecai. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959)

Comic Canadian novel of the coming age of a cynical dreamer.


Rhys, Jean.* Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

Jane Eyre retold through the eyes of Bertha Mason, the first Mrs. Rochester.


Robinson, Marilynne. Housekeeping (1981), Gilead (2004)

The first is a beautifully written, lush novel about an eccentric girl’s journey toward self-acceptance.  The second is a fictional autobiography written by a dying preacher who wants to write his story for his son before he dies.


Roth, Philip.* The Plot Against America (2005)

The author imagines that the pioneer aviator Charles Lindbergh defeats Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 election, with unforeseen consequences.


Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things (1997)

The effects of passion, death, and the caste system on one Indian family.


Rushdie, Salman.* Midnight’s Children (1981)

The challenging, fantastical novel of two Indian babies switched at birth, and how their fates are intertwined with that of their country.


Russell, Doria Maria. The Sparrow (1997), A Thread of Grace (2006)

The first is an ingenious, haunting tale of a Jesuit-led expedition to a distant planet; the second is a World War II tale of a 14 year-old girl and her father trying to escape the Nazis by crossing the Alps.


Russo, Richard.* Empire Falls (2001)

Fast-moving, often funny novel of blue collar life in a Maine mill town.


Saramago, Jose.* The Double (2005) 

A middle-aged history professor finds his a double—someone who looks just like him. 


Sayers, Dorothy. Gaudy Night (1935)

One of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels, in which he investigates a murder at an Oxford celebration and meets his future wife, Harriet Vane.


Saylor, Steven. A Murder on the Appian Way (1997)

Gordianus the Finder discovers political intrigue and murder in ancient Rome.


Schulman, Audrey. Three Weeks in December (2012)

A double-plotted novel about a scientist with Asperger's in Rwanda trying to locate a possibly richly pharmaceutical vine and a young British engineer, 100 years earlier, working also in Africa to build a railroad with Indian workers.


Schwartz, Lynn Sharon. Disturbances in the Field (1983)

A musically talented woman confronts a parent’s worst nightmare.


Scott, Paul.* The Jewel in the Crown (Vol. 1 of The Raj Quartet) (1965)

The first in the series of wonderful historical novels about the beginning of the end of the British Empire in India.


See, Lily. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2006)

Set in remote 19th-century China, an affecting story of two lifelong friends imprisoned by rigid codes of conduct for women.


Selvadurai, Shyam. Funny Boy (1994)

A young gay man’s coming of age in Sri Lanka amid prejudice and civil war.


Seth, Vikram. A Suitable Boy (1994)

Four upper-class Indian families face issues of marriage, class, and religion.


Shea. Christina. Smuggled  (2011)

Depicts the experience of a young Hungarian girl who is smuggled across the border to Romania to escape the Nazis and her subsequent search for self throughout the turbulent history of the twentieth century.


Sholokhov, Mikhail.* And Quiet Flows the Don (1934)

The first of two novels of Cossack Russia at the end of the Tsarist era.


Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony (1988)

A young Native American man’s quest for identity following time as a World War II prisoner of war.


Simenon, Georges.* Maigret and the Hotel Majestic (1977)

Maigret, an old style French policeman, investigates a grim murder.


Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle (1906)

This novel exposed factory hazards and the hardships of immigrants.


Singer, Isaac Bashevis.* Gimpel the Fool and Other Stories (1953)

Short stories of Jewish shtetl life at the turn of the 20thC.


Singh, Khushwant. Train to Pakistan (1956)

During Partition a village of Muslims and Sikhs reacts to a massacre.


Sittenfeld, Curtis. Prep (2005)

A Midwestern girl attends a New England boarding school on scholarship to find her identity and values challenged.


Smith, Alexander McCall.* The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (1998)

Set in Botswana, the first in the light-hearted series featuring private detective Precious Ramotswe, who not only solves crimes but also helps people straighten out their lives.


Smith, Zadie.* White Teeth (2000)

A novel of race, class, and politics in today’s melting pot London.


Sobel, Dava. Galileo’s Daughter (1999)

An historical novel of science, faith, and love based on letters Galileo’s  daughter wrote him on the eve of his trial.


Solzhenitsyn, Alexander.* One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962)

Life in a grim Stalinist concentration camp of the early 20thC.


Soseki, Natsume. Kokoro (1957)

Japanese novel about a lonely intellectual’s matters of the heart (kokoro).


Soueif, Ahdaf. The Map of Love (1999)

Parallel love stories of two couples set 100 years apart in Egypt.


Spark, Muriel. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)

A teacher in 1930s Scotland tries to shape the lives of her “favourites.”


Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (1992)

Remarkable graphic novel of the Holocaust, in comic book form.


Stegner, Wallace.* Crossing to Safety (1987)

A lovely, quiet novel of the lives and loves of two American couples.


Steinbeck, John.* The Grapes of Wrath (1939)

The classic novel of the Great Depression and the dust storms that drive one family west from Oklahoma.


Stockett, Kathryn. The Help (2009)

Set in early 1960s Mississippi, this novel explores the relationships between white and black women of different classes and a few women’s attempts to effect social change.


Stone, Irving. The Agony and the Ecstasy (1961)

Gripping biography of the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo.


Stone, Robert. Damascus Gate (1997)

Complex thriller set in 1992 melting-pot Jerusalem.


Styron, William.* Sophie’s Choice (1979)

A Holocaust survivor makes difficult choices to survive.


Tan, Amy.* The Joy Luck Club (1993)  

Traces the lives of four Chinese-American mother/daughter pairs as they attempt to understand each other across generational lines.


Tartt, Donna. The Goldfinch (2014)

Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that traces the journey of a teenage boy and the portrait he has stolen from a NY museum. A Secret History (1992) is a psychological thriller that tells of the increasingly immoral activities of a clique of classics students in an elite New England college (not for the faint of heart!).


Tey, Josephine.* The Daughter of Time (1951)

Can the famous murder of the little princes in the Tower of London be solved today from a hospital bed?


Thiong’O, Ngugi Wa. River Between (1965)

Christian missionaries’ attempts to outlaw female circumcision divide two African communities


Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings (any of the three volumes) (1955)

The classic fantasy trilogy of good versus evil, featuring Frodo and friends.


Toomer, Jean. Cane (1923)

A challenging novella about race issues in early America.


Trevor, William.* The Stories of William Trevor (1983)

Wide-ranging short stories from a masterful Irish storyteller.


Undset, Sigrid.* Kristin Lavransdatter (1920-22)

A trilogy of historical novels about a 14thC Norwegian woman--full of romantic intrigues, political schemes, and spiritual debate.


Unsworth, Barry. Morality Play (1996)

A band of traveling actors in times of old uncovers a mysterious murder.


Updike, John.* Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories (1962)

A collection of short stories by one of America’s greatest living writers.


Uris, Leon. Exodus (1958)

Gripping historical novel about the founding of the state of Israel.


Verghese, Abraham. Cutting for Stone (2009)

A powerful novel about a hospital compound in Ethiopia.


Vonnegut, Kurt.* Welcome to the Monkey House (1968)

Satirical short stories by the author of the anti-war novel Slaughterhouse Five.


Walker, Alice. The Color Purple (1982)

Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of an abused and uneducated black woman’s struggle for self-determination.


Warren, Robert Penn. All the King’s Men (1946)

The ultimate political novel of American backroom wheeling and dealing.


Waters, Frank. The Man Who Killed the Deer (1970)

Native American novel of identity set among the Pueblo in Taos, NM.


Waugh, Evelyn.* Brideshead Revisited (1945)

Complex novel of the decline of the English aristocracy after World War I.


Welch, James. Fool’s Crow (1987)

A young warrior faces the extinction of the Native American way of life.


Welty, Eudora.* The Ponder Heart (1954)

Humorous Southern monologue full of memorable characters and events.


Wharton, Edith.* The House of Mirth (1905)

Novel of money, morals, and social class in early 20thC New York.


White, T. H. The Once and Future King (1958)

The story of King Arthur, his life and loves, retold in a contemporary style.


Woolf, Virginia.* Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

The famous novel of a post World War I Englishwoman and her struggle to understand her life.


Wright, Richard. Uncle Tom’s Children (1940)

A collection of fast-moving short stories describing aspects of the African-American experience in the early 20th Century.


Yehoshua, A. B. The Liberated Bride (2003)

Israeli novel in which Jews and Arabs try to live together peacefully.


Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind (2001)

In post-World War II Spain, a young man tries to discover why an author’s works have been systematically destroyed.

Zusak,  Markus. The Book Thief (2006) 

Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.




Ackroyd, Peter.* Dickens (1990)

The best full-length biography of the famous 19thC writer.


Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1940)

Classic descriptions and photographs of Southern sharecroppers.


Ahmed, Leila. A Border Passage: from Cairo to America (2003)

Muslim woman's recollection of growing up in post-World War II Egypt amid the political and social conflicts of a post-colonial culture.


Alexander, Caroline. The Bounty (2003)

Details from primary sources shed new light on the famous mutiny.


Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

Sometimes graphic memoir of growing up black in the South.


Ambrose, Stephen.* Undaunted Courage (1996)

Gripping account of the Lewis and Clark exploration of the West.


Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera (1987)

Psychological, sexual, spiritual borders for a feminist, gay, Chicano woman.


Arendt, Hannah.* Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963)

A disturbing Holocaust-inspired book on guilt, evil, and responsibility.


Aristotle. The Poetics (350 BCE)

The foundational discussion of tragedy, comedy, and epic poetry--as important today as it was in ancient times.


Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History (2000)

Understanding the complexity of the world's fastest-growing faith.


Asinoff, Eliot. Eight Men Out (1963)

Baseball's worst scandal, when the Black Sox threw the 1919 World Series.


Baker, Russell. Growing Up (1982)

A journalist often humorously recalls his youth between two world wars.


Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time (1963), Notes of a Native Son (1955)

In the first, the author details in no uncertain terms why the United States must pay attention to the needs and desires of African-Americans; in the second, he describes his own life growing up in this country.


Barry, John. The Great Influenza (2004)

The epic story of the deadliest plague in history, the 1918 worldwide influenza epidemic that killed more people than died in World War II.


Beah, Ishmael, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007)

Traces a boy’s journey from child soldier in Sierra Leone to a degree at Oberlin college.

Bernstein, Carl, A Woman in Charge (2007)

A balanced biography of Hillary Clinton, with good insight into her personality and motivations and into the Clinton White House.


Beston, Henry. The Outermost House (1928)

For nature lovers, a book on spending a year in a shack on a Cape Cod beach.


Bhagavad-Gita, The. (400BCE-400)

A key text of the Hindu religion (read selections).


Bible, The. (783 BCE-200)

Central religious text for Christians (read selections).


Blais, Madeleine. In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle (1997)

Amherst, MA Lady Hurricanes and the year they won the Championship.


Bloom, Amy. Normal (2003)

A graphic look at gender diversity, including transsexuality.


Blum, Arlene. Anapurna: A Woman's Place (1998)

Mountaineering on one of the world's highest Himalayan peaks.


Boland, Evan. Object Lessons (1995)

Autobiographical reflections on being a woman and a poet in Ireland.


Boo, Katherine. Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012)

A readable, memorable, first-hand report on life in the Mumbai slums.


Bornstein, Kate. Gender Outlaw (1994)

A graphic cultural critique of gender by a male-to-female transsexual.


Boorstin, Daniel. The Discoverers (1995)

Short lives of the greatest minds of Western civilization.


Botton, Alain de.* The Consolation of Philosophy (2000)

Lucid explanations of Seneca, Socrates, Nietzsche, and others.


Bragg, Rick. All Over But the Shoutin' (1998)

A memoir of growing up poor and white in the South.


Branch, Taylor.* Parting the Waters (1988)

Prize-winning account of the efforts and influence of Martin Luther King Jr.


Braudel, Fernand. A History of Civilizations (1963)

One of the very first anti-ethnocentric histories.


Brave Bird, Mary (a.k.a Mary Crow Dog). Lakota Woman (1990)

Autobiography of a 1970s Native American activist.


Brown, Carolyn. Chance and Circumstance (2007)

The author's rich account of 20 years of dancing with Merce Cunningham and John Cage, and her life among the 20thC avante-garde.


Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970)

A moving Native American exposé of suffering and loss at the hands of white people, subtitled "An Indian History of the American West."


Bryson, Bill.* A Walk in the Woods (1988), A Short History of Nearly Everything (2004)

The first is a humorous tale of hiking the Appalachian Trail; the second provides a fast-paced history of science.


Buber, Martin. I and Thou (1923)

Classic of Christian existentialism, combining philosophy and faith.


Cahill, Thomas.* How the Irish Saved Civilization (1995), Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter (2003)

In the first, isolation and monasteries kept European art and culture from harm.  The second is an accessible overview of Ancient Greek culture.


Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (2013)

An exploration into the popular psychology of "introversion" and "extroversion" with forays into more significant scientific research.


Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949)

Finding common connections between the myths of many cultures.


Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood (1965)

A hard look at two murderers and the issue of capital punishment.


Carroll, James. An American Requiem (1997)

A former priest and Globe columnist confronts his father about the Viet Nam war in a moving reflection.


Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring (1962)

The classic work on ecology and pesticides.


Carter, Stephen. Civility (1998)

How to create community through trust and respect.


Cary, Lorene. Black Ice (1992)

A memoir of life as a scholarship student at St. Paul's School.


Cash, William. The Mind of the South (1929)

A social history through the Civil War and the Great Depression.


Catton, Bruce.* A Stillness at Appomattox (1953)

Pulitzer Prize-winning description of the final year of the Civil War.


Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking (1999)

Graphic description of the little-known Japanese destruction and pillaging of the Chinese city of Nanking in the 1930's.  


Chang, Jung. Wild Swans (1992)

Memoir of three generations of Chinese women in transition to communism.


Chang, Leslie. Beyond the Narrow Gate (1998)

Four Chinese women leave their native land for the United States.


Chatwin, Bruce.*The Songlines (1987)

Tales of an unusual traveler among the Australian Aborigines.


Chen, Da. Colors of the Mountain (2000)

Memoir of growing up in China during and after the Cultural revolution.


Chernin, Kim. In My Mother's House (1983)

Memoir about the author's mother, a Russian Communist activist.


Chetham, Deidre. Before the Deluge (2002)

Description of what will be lost when China's Three Gorges dam is completed.


Cleaver, Eldridge. Soul On Ice (1968)

1960’s Black Panther activist's powerful prison memoirs and opinions.


Coles, Robert.* Lives of Moral Leadership (2000)

The influence of good men and women on individuals and groups.


Confucius. The Analects of Confucius (500-479 BCE)

Ancient Chinese philosophy of morals and behavior (read selections).


Connant, Jennet.  The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington (2009)

An account of Roald Dahl and the British Security Coordination’s secret campaign of propaganda and political subversion aimed at weakening American isolationist forces, bringing the country into the war against Germany, and influencing U.S. policy in favor of England.


Conway, Jill Kerr.* The Road from Coorain (1989)

The former president of Smith recounts her Australian outback childhood.


Cook, Blanche Weisen. Eleanor Roosevelt (1992)

A two-volume biography of the feminist First Lady.


Cox, Brian and Jeff Forshaw. Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?) (2009)


Crafts, Hannah. The Bondswoman's Narrative (2002)

Memoir of a fugitive slave, discovered by Harvard's Prof. Henry Louis Gates.


Dalai Lama, The.* Ethics for a New Millennium (1999)

The spiritual leader of Tibet would have us focus on "the inability to bear the sight of another's suffering."


Dalrymple, William. Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India (2010)


Damasio, Antonio. Descartes' Error (1994)

Fascinating philosophical cases deal with the effects of emotion on rationality.


Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene (1976)

Fascinating description of natural selection in both nature and human culture.


de Bellaigue, Christopher. In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs (2005)

A memoir of Iran, focusing on the "hearts and minds" of its people.


DeKruif, Paul. Microbe Hunters (1926)

The fine science of medical detection.


Delany, Sarah et. al. Having Our Say (1993)

African-American sisters who began life in 1891 write with great wit of their struggles and triumphs.


Deloria, Vine. Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (1969)

Native American history from a Native American viewpoint.


De Mille, Agnes. Dance to the Piper (1952)

Memoirs of the extraordinary 20th Century American dancer.


Demos, John. The Unredeemed Captive (1994)

In early America, a young girl captured by Native Americans refuses to leave her adoptive family when "rescued."


Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997)

A fascinating study of how human societies around the world developed--not for the reasons you might think, but, for instance, because zebras are surly.


Dillard, Annie.* An American Childhood (1987), Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974)

The first is a collection of vignettes about growing up in an eccentric family in the 1950s; in the second, the author examines the world around her.


Dinesen, Isak.* Out of Africa (1937)

Memoir of a European white woman who falls in love with the continent because of its beauty and its people.

Doig, Ivan. Dancing at the Rascal Fair (1987)

The first volume in a three-part memoir of Scottish immigrants in Montana.


Donaldson, Scott.  Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald: The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship (2000)

In the glamour and romance of 1920s Paris, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald began a great friendship fueled by admiration, jealousy, and liquor; this book is a heady mixture of literary scholarship, history, and gossip.

Dorfman, Ariel. Heading North, Looking South (1998)

South American memoir of cultural conflict and the search for self.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself (1845)

The classic, insightful, harrowing view of slavery in the US.

Dubois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk (1903)

A classic look at race and society in post-Civil War America.

Durrell, Gerald.* My Family and Other Animals (1956)

The humorous escapades of a boy from an eccentric British family who can't help collecting insects, birds, snakes and animals, and bringing them home.

Dyson, Michael Eric. Race Rules (1996)

The author discusses the many challenges of "navigating the color line.

Eck, Diana. Encountering God (1993)

A Harvard professor explores religious tolerance through her own journey, "from Bozeman [Montana] to Banaras [India]," as the subtitle says.

Ehrlich, Gretel. The Solace of Open Spaces (1985)

The author, a non-Westerner, adjusts to life in Wyoming.

Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed (2002), Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy (2007)

The first is a first-person description of the hardships of working low-wage jobs in the US. Dancing in the Streets reflects on the lack of public rituals of joy in our time. 

Eiseley, Loren. The Immense Journey (1957)

About the interdependence of the human and natural worlds.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo.* Selected Essays (1841-44)

These classic American essays include "Self-Reliance" and "The Over-Soul."


Epstein, Helen. Where She Came From (1997)

A daughter reflects on her Czech mother's liberation from both the Holocaust and a male-dominated society.


Erikson, Erik. Childhood and Society (1958)

Mid-20thC theory of the formation of identity in youth.


Esposito, John L. Islam: The Straight Path (1998) 

A splendid introduction to the faith, belief, and practice of Islam.

Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (1998)

About the collision between Hmong culture and Western medicine.

Ferris, Timothy. Coming of Age in the Milky Way (1989)

A history of the cosmos from an Institute of Physics prizewinner.

Feynman, Richard. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman (1985)

Fascinating memoirs of a Nobel physicist.


FitzGerald, Frances. Fire in the Lake (1972)

The author compares the two cultures opposed in the Viet Nam war.


Fossey, Diane. Gorillas in the Mist (1983)

A courageous life, ultimately lost, living with and caring for gorillas.


Frankl, Victor. Man's Search for Meaning (1946)

A psychiatrist's reflections on his experience in Auschwitz.


Franklin David. A Peace to End All Peace (1989)

Why and how the West shaped the modern Middle East.


Fraser, Antonia.* Mary, Queen of Scots (1969)

Lively biography with all the pageantry and politics of English history.


Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams (1911)

Ground-breaking study when published of dreams, id, ego, and superego.


Friedman, Thomas. The World is Flat (2006), From Beirut to Jerusalem (1989)

The first is a fascinating description of how the Internet is changing lives around the world; the second is a highly readable introduction to the explosive situation in the Middle East.


Fuller, Alexandra. Don't Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight (2001)

A white African's memoir of her childhood, with parents whom she loved but who struggled economically and emotionally.


Gardner, Howard.* Frames of Mind (1983)

Ground-breaking view of our different, multiple learning styles.


Gates, Henry Louis.* Colored People: A Memoir (1994)

The West Virginia childhood of the renowned scholar.


Geniesse, Jane. Passionate Nomad (2001)

The adventures of a young woman, Freya Stark, who travels the Middle East alone between the two World Wars.


Gilgamesh. (2000 BCE)

Mesopotamian verse epic of a king's mythic journey.


Gill, Gillian. Nightingales (2004)

A life of the famous nurse and brave reformer Florence Nightingale.


Ginsburg, Eugenia Semyonovna. Journey into the Whirlwind (1975)

A courageous woman's memoir of 18 years in Stalinist prison camps.


Giridharadas, Anand. India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking (2011)

Written by our assembly speaker.


Gladwell, Malcolm.* The Tipping Point (2000)

How little things can make a big difference in our daily lives.


Goodall, Jane.* The Chimpanzees of Gombe (1986)

A lifetime living with chimps, as described by the world expert.


Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Wait Till next Year (1999)

Growing up as a Brooklyn Dodgers baseball fan in the mid-20th century.


Gore, Albert. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

The book version of the global-warming film by the former Vice President.


Gould, Stephen J.* The Panda's Thumb (1978)

A study of evolution and biology by an interesting scientist.


Gourevitch, Philip. We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families (1998) 

The author attempts to make sense of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, in which 800,000 were killed in 100 days.


Grandin, Temple.* Animals in Translation:

Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal  Behavior (2004)


Graves, Robert. Goodbye to All That (1929, revised 1957)

A social history of England emphasizing the effect of World War I.


Grealy, Lucy. Autobiography of a Face (1994)

The memoir of a child's disfiguring illness and how she handles it.


Greene, Brian. The Elegant Universe (2000)

String theory and the quest for ultimate physical theory.


Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World (2003)

A readable, fast-moving biography of Will Shakespeare, actor and writer.


Greenlaw, Linda. The Hungry Ocean (2000)

How the author makes it as a deep-sea sword-fishing captain.


Hahn, Emily. China to Me (1944)

A New Yorker writer's loves and intrigues in 1930s China.


Halberstam, David.* The Amateurs (1996), The Best and the Brightest (1972)

The first is an inside look at an Olympic crew team with its eyes on gold; the second explains how American misunderstood the Viet Nam conflict.


Hamilton, Edith. Mythology (1942)

A smooth retelling of Greek, Roman, and Norse myths in a modern style.


Hampton, Henry. Voices of Freedom (1989)

An oral history of the civil right movement from the 1950s to the 1980s.


Harr, Jonathan.*A Civil Action (1997)

Exposé of the W. R. Grace Co. pollution of suburban Boston ground waters.


Hawkins, Gerald. Stonehenge Decoded (1964)

His theory: the great stone circle is actually a subtle astronomical calculator.


Hedges, Chris. War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002) A war correspondent explains the cultural and psychological impacts of war.


Heilbrun, Carolyn. Hamlet's Mother and Other Essays (1957)

Feminist essays on a range of subjects.


Herlihy, Dan. The Black Death and the Transformation of the West (1997)

Tracing the social and economic consequences of the plague.


Hickam, Homer. Rocket Boys (1998)

The memoir of a NASA rocket scientist.


Hillenbrand, Laura. Seabiscuit (2001)

Racehorse, jockey, and owner pursue the American Dream.


Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken (2010)

An inspiring story about a WWII hero and his unbelievable journey as a pilot, a crash survivor, and a POW in Japanese prison camps. 


Hirshler, Erica. Sargent's Daughters (2009)

An exploration of the painter, his subjects, and the reception of a famous Sargent painting that resides in the MFA.

Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold's Ghost (1998)

The horrific story of how the King of Belgium exploited the Congo.


Hoffman, Eva. Lost in Translation (1988)

A Polish immigrant struggles for identity in a new culture and language.


Holton, Woody. Abigail Adams (2009)

A biography.

hooks, bell.* Where We Stand (2001)

Threads of race and class mark hooks's journey from Kentucky to New York.


Hurston, Zora Neale. Dust Tracks on the Road (1942)

The Southern girlhood of the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God.


Huxley, Elspeth. The Flame Trees of Thika (1959)

A literary autobiography set in Kenya during colonialism.


Jacobs, A.J. The Know-It-All: One man’s humble quest to become the  smartest man in the world (2004).


Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself (1861)

The chronicle of the author's slavery, sexual exploitation, flight, and eventual reunion with her family.


Jenkins, Elizabeth.* Elizabeth the Great (1958)

Daily life at the court of Elizabeth I.


Johnson, Martin. The Dreyfus Affair (1999)

The political Dreyfus trial fueled anti-Semitism in France in the Belle Epoque.


Johnson, Steven.  The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World 


Follows a visionary doctor in his fight against cholera.


Junger, Sebastian. The Perfect Storm (1997)

Harrowing true story of the loss of a Gloucester fishing boat and its crew during a hurricane.



Kahn, Roger. The Boys of Summer (2000)

A reporter's coverage of the famous 1950's Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team.


Kakalios, James. The Physics of Superheroes (2009)


Kaplan, Justin. Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain (1966)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Mark Twain.


Kaplan, Robert.* Balkan Ghosts (1990)

Background on the present political configuration of the Balkan states.


Kazin, Alfred. A Walker in the City (1969)

Memoir of a Brooklyn working class childhood before the Great Depression.


Keller, Evelyn Fox. A Feeling for the Organism (1974)

A look at the work of early geneticist Barbara McClintock.


Kidder, Tracy. Mountains Beyond Mountains (2003)

The inspirational quest of Dr. Paul Farmer to cure poverty and infectious diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis in Haiti.


Kilbourne, Jean. Can't Buy My Love (2000)

An analysis of the effects of advertising on how and what we buy.


Kingsolver, Barbara. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007)

Famous novelist recounts her year of eating home-grown or locally produced food and analyzes the current state of the American diet and how we can change our ways.


Kinsella, W. P. Shoeless Joe (1983)

The book about the 1919 Black Sox baseball scandal.


Koklowitz, Alec.* The Other Side of the River (1999)

A death in a Michigan town exposes the gap between privileged and poor.


Koran, The (633)

Central religious text for Muslims (read selections).


Kozol, Jonathan. Amazing Grace (1994), Rachel and her Children (1988)

The first is a compassionate look at the lives of poor people in New York City; the second is an equally tender look at the state of the homeless in the US.


Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air (1997)

Gripping description of an ill-fated climb of Mt. Everest.


Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth.* On Death and Dying (1976)

Ground-breaking analysis of the stages of dying and grief.


Larina, Anna. This I Cannot Forget (1994)

Memoirs of the wife of an early Bolshevik leader, later executed; her two decades in the Soviet Gulag; and the Stalinist purges.


Laye, Camara. Dark Child (1953)

An autobiography of growing up in Guinea during the colonial era.


Lansing, Alfred. Endurance (1959)

The harrowing but inspiring tale of a group of men fighting to return to civilization after an abortive expedition to the South Pole.


Larson, Erik.  In the Garden of Beasts (2012)

A vivid portrait of Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign, brought to life through the stories of two people: William E. Dodd, who in 1933 became America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime, and his scandalously carefree daughter, Martha.


Lear, Linda. Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature (2007)

This lively biography of the famous author of Peter Rabbit and other children's tales is also the story of a gifted artist and amateur scientist who also became a successful farmer in England's wild and beautiful Lake District.


Least Heat Moon, William. Blue Highways (1982)

A 13,000-mile road trip through the small towns of America.


Lehr, Dick and Gerard O'Neill. Black Mass (1980)

The story of a crooked alliance between the FBI and the Irish mob in Boston, by two Boston Globe reporters.


Levi, Primo.* Survival in Auschwitz (1949, translated 1957)

The author recounts his concentration camp experience in a classic work.


Lessing, Doris. African Laughter (1992)

The author returns to Zimbabwe after a long exile.


Lightfoot, Sara-Lawrence.* Balm in Gilead (1988)

Biography of the author's mother, an early African-American physician.


Lindbergh, Anne Morrow.* Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead (1973)

A mother tells the story of her child's famous kidnapping.


Livy.  The Early History of Rome

An account of the history of Rome from its founding by Romulus and Remus to the heroic defense of the city against the Gallic Invasion.


Longman, Jere. The Girls of Summer (2000)

How the extraordinary 1999 US women's soccer team won the World Cup.


Lowman, Margaret and Robert Ballard. Life in the Treetops (1999)

Lowman's work in the rain forest canopy amid an amazing diversity of life.


Lukas, J. Anthony. Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families (1986) 

A journalist provides an excellent history of racial segregation issues in Boston Public Schools in the 1970s.




Maathai, Wangari.  Unbowed (2006)

The first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (in 2004) recounts her extraordinary life as a political activist, feminist, and environmentalist in Kenya.


MacDonald, Michael Patrick. All Souls (1999)

A hard look at the underbelly of life in the South Boston projects.


Malcolm X. The Autobiography of Malcolm X  (1965)

"The Autobiography," as it is known, tells of Malcolm X’s transformation from a self-destructive criminal to a famous political activist and leader.


Mandelstam, Nadezhda. Hope Against Hope (1970)

A memoir of the grim Stalinist era by the wife of a great Russian poet.


Manning, Richard. Against the Grain (2004)

How the commoditization of grain has drastically affected our world.


Margulis, Lyn and Sagan, Carl. Microcosmos (1986)

A fascinating look at micro-organisms by two leaders in science.


Markham, Beryl. West with the Night (1942)

The story of the first person to fly across the Atlantic east to west, a pioneer aviatrix who grew up and was a bush pilot in Kenya.


Massie, Robert. Catherine the Great (2011)

A remarkable biography of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to become one of the most powerful women in history. 


Mayes, Frances. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (1997)

A woman’s memoir of her renovation of a Tuscan villa and the pleasures of gardening, cooking, and living abroad. 


Mazer, Anne (Ed.). Going Where I'm Coming From (1994)

Multi-cultural anthology of short memoirs by American authors.


McBride, James. The Color of Water (1997)

An African-American man's tribute to his white mother.


McCarthy, Mary.* Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood (1957)

The author tells of her difficult youth in the early 20th Century.


McDougall, Christopher. Born to Run (2011)

A writer/reporter sets out to look for a little known and mysterious tribe of "superathletes" known for their incredible running ability.


McCourt, Frank.* Angela's Ashes (1996)

A funny, sad memoir of growing up in Irish slums with an indomitable mother.


McCullough, David.* Brave Companions (1992)

Essays on outstanding US scientists, engineers, writers, and artists.


McPhee, John.* The John McPhee Reader (1977), A Sense of Where You Are   (1999). The first is a collection of essays by the accomplished New Yorker writer; the second is a profile of a famous basketball player, later a senator.


Merton, Thomas. The Seven Storey Mountain (1948)

The philosophical autobiography of the poet, scholar, and Trappist monk.


Mill, John Stuart. Autobiography (1856)

The classic intellectual autobiography of the great philosopher.


Miller, Judith. God Has 99 Names (1996)

The author examines the diversity in Islamic thinking.


Min, Anchee. Red Azalea (1993)

The author tells of her life in China during Mao's final years.


Momaday, Scott. The Names (1976)

A memoir of a Native American childhood on Jemez Pueblo, NM.


Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi (1976)

A memoir of the very rural south in the 1940s and 1950s.

Morgan, Elaine. The Scars of Evolution (1992)

What our bodies tell us about our human origin.


Murakami, Haruki. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2009)

Reflections about running by a serious runner and novelist.


Murphy, Dervla.* Full Tilt (1965)

The author's amazing bicycle journey from Ireland to India.


Nafisi, Azar. Reading Lolita in Tehran (2003)

The joys of reading with women, even when the books are banned.


Nansen, Fridtjof. The Farthest North (1897)

The Norwegian explorer's three year journey of polar exploration.


Neihardt, John. Black Elk Speaks (1932)

An important Native American chief gives his philosophical views.


Newby, Eric. A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, A (1958)

A wild account of solitary travel in a desolate area.


Nolan, Christopher. Under the Eye of the Clock (1987)

The autobiography of an Irish boy with cerebral palsy.


Obama, Barack. The Audacity of Hope (2006), Dreams from My Father (1995)

In the first the Presidential candidate lays out his vision of the future; in the second he describes the quest for his racial identity that took him to Kenya.


O'Connor, Frank. An Only Child (1961)

The author grows up in the slums of Cork, Ireland.


Orwell, George. Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)

The author of 1984 describes his experiences as a dishwasher in Paris and a homeless person in London.



Ovid. Metamorphoses (c. 750)

The classic Greek and Roman tales and myths of transformation.


Packard, George. Assassins' Gate (2005)

An examination of the reasons the US got involved in the Iraq war.


Parini, Jay. Robert Frost: A Life (1999)

An admiring biography of the talented poet from NH.


Parkman, Francis. LaSalle and the Discovery of the Great West (1869)

A 19thC historian's view of the history of the American west.


Parks, Gordon. Choice of Weapons (1966)

The autobiography of the famous African-American photographer.


Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower (2006), In the Heart of the Sea (1996)

In the first, the newly-arrived Europeans and the Native Americans get along just fine, but this fast-moving narrative shows why everything falls apart; in the second, the inspiration for Moby Dick, the author tells of 19thC whaling.


Pinker, Steven. How the Mind Works (2004)

A description of our mental processes in action.


Plato. The Republic (c. 300 BCE)

One of the fundamental works of philosophy, on what is a just society.


Plowden, Alison. The Young Elizabeth (1973)

A solid, readable look at the Virgin Queen's first 25 years.


Plutarch.  The Fall of the Roman Republic

Plutarch recounts the lives the major players in the struggle over the destiny of the Roman Republic: Pompey, Caesar and Cicero.


Plutarch.  Makers of Rome

Plutarch recounts the lives of figures such as Coriolanus, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, Brutus, and Marc Antony, who played a major role in the history of the Roman Republic.


Pool, Eugene and Benjamin Jacobs. The 100-Year Secret (2004)

In World War II British warplanes bombed a ship, killing 6,700 concentration camp survivors aboard, but the British deny the atrocity ever happened.


Preston, Diana. The Boxer Rebellion (2000)

Letters, diaries, and memories recreate a crucial period of upheaval in China.


Prunier, Gerard. The Ambiguous Genocide (2005)

An in-depth, accessible study of Darfur, critical to understanding the genocide.


Ramayana, The. (c. 500 BCE)

Ancient Sanskrit epic poem with allegorical teachings of ancient Hindu sages.


Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes (1986)

A biography of the influential African-American poet.


Randall, Lisa. Warped Passages (2005)

On string theory and particle physics, by a Harvard professor.


Rawicz, Slavomir. The Long Walk (1955)

In 1941 the author and fellow prisoners make a 4,000 mile escape to freedom.


Rich, Adrienne. On Lies, Secrets, and Silence (1979)

Feminist essays by the well-known American poet.


Ricks, Thomas. Fiasco (2005)

An in-depth account and analysis of the current war in Iraq.


Riddles, Libby and Tim Jones. Race Across Alaska (1988)

The first woman to win the Iditarod dogsled race describes her 1985 journey.


Rilke, Ranier Marie. Letters to a Young Poet (c. 1930, revised 1987)

Advice on writing from Germany's most renowned poet of the 20th Century.


Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory (2003)

The Mexican-American author recalls the price of social assimilation.


Rogers, Susan Fox (Ed.) Two in the Wild (1999)

An anthology of women's adventures in the great outdoors.


Rose, Phyllis. Parallel Lives (1983)

The inside story of five famous Victorian literary marriages.


Ross, Alex. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (2007)

The New Yorker’s music critic gives a history of 20th century classical music.


Sacks, Oliver. The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (1987)

Fascinating case histories of medical patients with neurological disorders.

Said, Edward. Out of Place (1999)

The memoir of a dispossessed Palestinian intellectual.


Samet, Elizabeth (Winsor Class of ’87) Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature through Peace and War at West Point (2007)

A thoughtful meditation on teaching literature at West Point. 


Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis (2004)

An autobiographical graphic novel of a young girl's life under the recent Islamic fundamentalist revolution in Iran.


Seierstad, Asne. The Bookseller of Kabul (2002)

A journalist lives with a patriarchal, Islamic fundamentalist Afghani family.


Sheehan, Neil. A Bright, Shining Lie (1989)

How a military officer becomes disillusioned with the Viet Nam war.


Shirer, William.* The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960)

The best, most detailed and readable book on Nazi Germany.


Simon, Kate. Bronx Primitive (1982)

Description of working class Jewish immigrant life in the early 20th century.


Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2009)

Weaves together the history of Henrietta Lacks and her family and the evolution of cell science and biological research.


Slater, Lauren. Welcome to My Country (1995)

A Winsor alumna describes her life as a psychotherapist.


Smith, Rex Alan. The Moon of the Popping Trees (1981)

A history of the tragic Indian wars and the massacre at Wounded Knee.


Solzhenitsyn, Alexasandr.* The Gulag Archipelago (1973)

A grueling picture of Soviet repression during the Stalinist era.


Soyinka, Wole. Ake: The Years of Childhood (1988)

The boyhood of the Nigerian Nobel Laureate.


Spence, Jonathan.* Treason by the Book (2001)

A suspenseful historical narrative about an 18thC treason case in China.

St. Exupery, Antoine de. Wind, Sand, and Stars (1939)

The author of Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) describes his love of flying.


Stegner, Wallace. Wolf Willow (1955)

Beautiful descriptions of life on the great plains of the US and Canada.


Steinbeck, John.*Travels with Charley (1962)

In the Sixties the author and his dog set out in search of America.


Steinem, Gloria.* Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983)

Essays on sexual politics by one of the leaders of the feminist movement.


Steiner, Jean Francois. Treblinka (1967)

How prisoners at the notorious Nazi death camp destroyed it and escaped.


Stoll, Clifford. The Cuckoo’s Egg (1990)

A computer operator tracks down a hacker-spy via the Internet.


Strachey, Lytton.* Eminent Victorians (1918)

A witty inside look at the lives of five influential Victorians.


Stratton, Joanna. Pioneer Women (1981)

Courageous voices from the Kansas frontier of the 1800's.


Takaki, Ronald.* A Different Mirror (1995)

An inclusive history of multi-cultural America.


Terkel, Studs.* Race (1990)

Interviews with American blacks and whites on how they think about race.


Tharoor, Shashi. India: From Midnight to the Millennium (1998)

A thorough analysis of the country’s emerging strengths and dilemmas.


Tharp, Louise. Mrs. Jack (1965)

A lively biography of Isabella Stewart Gardner, whose former mansion is the world-famous museum just down the street from Winsor.


Theroux, Paul. The Old Patagonian Express (1979)

Traveling by rail from Boston's own South Station to the tip of Argentina.


Thomas, Lewis. Lives of a Cell (1974)

Notes on the interdependence of cells and ourselves.


Thompson, Flora. Lark Rise to Candleford (1945)

A delicate look at 19thC British village life.


Thompson, Lawrence. Robert Frost (1966)

An unflattering biography of the talented poet from NH.


Thomson, David. Scott, Shackleton, and Amundsen (1977)

A demythologizing look at the leaders of three early Antarctic expeditions.


Thoreau, Henry David.* Walden (1854)

Journal reflections on life in a cabin on the pond in Concord, MA.


Tierney, John. Willpower (2011)

This book explains the science behind willpower using case studies of people, including some celebrities, who overcame extraordinary obstacles.   


Toobin, Jeffrey, The Nine (2007)

An inside look at the Supreme Court, especially the role of Sandra Day O'Connor, in recent political events and decisions. Also gives an overview of the courts since the 1930s.  


Tolan, Sandy. The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew and the Heart of the Middle East (2007) 

An Arab man and an Israeli woman meet and befriend each other over the house that used to belong to his family but which the Israeli settlements took over.  A good effort to be non-partisan.


Torah, The. (Ancient)

Central religious text for Jews (read selections).


Tuchman, Barbara.* The Guns of August (1962), A Distant Mirror (1978)

The first is a readable, thrilling account of the start of World War I; the second describes the fascinating tumult of 14thC Europe.

Tucker, Jonathan. Scourge (2001)

The author describes the past, present, and future threat of smallpox.


Turnbull, Andrew. Scott Fitzgerald (1973)

The best biography of the author of The Great Gatsby.


Ullman, James R. Americans on Everest (1964)

How the first Americans climbed the highest mountain in the world.


Upanishads, The. (c. 700 BCE)

A key Hindu text, including discussion of the World Soul (read selections).


Van Gogh, Vincent. Dear Theo (1958)

The artist's autobiography, as told through letters to his brother.


Viorst, Milton.* In the Shadow of the Prophet (1998)

How traditional Islamic life and the desire for economic strength conflict.


Walls, Jeannette.  The Glass Castle (2006)

Memoir about a girl’s unusual, nomadic upbringing by eccentric parents.


Wallach, Janet. Desert Queen (1996)

The true story of British explorer Gertrude Bell, who traveled unaccompanied through the 19thC Arab world.


Walker, Alice. In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens (1974)

Essays from the novelist and short story writer.


Washington, Booker T. Up From Slavery (1901)

Powerful autobiography of the 19thC activist and educator.


Watson, James D. The Double Helix (1969)

The author’s recounting of the discovery of DNA.


Watts, Alan. The Way of Zen (1957)

A history of Buddhism, Taoism, and the practice of Zen.


Wiesel, Elie. Night (1982)

The short but powerful prize-winning Holocaust memoir.


Weisgall, Deborah. A Joyful Noise (1999)

The author, a Winsor parent, describes her early experiences in Baltimore, MD, where her father was a cantor.


Welty, Eudora. One Writer's Beginnings (1984)

The Southern author describes how her early life influenced her writing.


West, Cornell. Race Matters (1994)

Essays and a call to action by one of today’s most respected educators.


White, E. B.* One Man’s Meat (1942)

Witty essays by the author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little.


Whybrow, Helen (Ed.). Dead Reckoning (2002)

Adventure writing from the so-called "golden age of exploration," 1800-1900. 


Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns (2011)

The author presents the history of the Great Migration through the interweaving stories of three African-Americans who left the south at different points during the movement.


Wilson, Frank. The Hand (1998)

Analyzing the evolution of the hand and its effect on human culture.


Winchester, Simon. The Professor and the Madman (1998), Krakatoa (2003)

The first is an engaging history of the creation of “the greatest dictionary in the world,” The Oxford English Dictionary, and some of the very unusual people involved; the second describes the cataclysmic 1883 eruption of the volcano.


Wolf, Maryanne. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain (2007)

Popular science book about theories of how the brain reads.


Wolfe, Tom. The Right Stuff (1979)

Highly anecdotal account of the early years of the Space Race.


Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger (1963)

The Irish Famine (1845-49) and the subsequent emigration to poverty and hard times in the United States.


Woodward, Bob and Bernstein, Carl.* All the President's Men (1974)

The inside story of the Watergate scandal of the Nixon White House.


Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One’s Own (1929)

In one short but, as it turns out, highly influential essay, the author makes the case that women as well as men need independence and support to write.


Worsley, F. A. Endurance (2000)

The ship captain’s version of the famous Shackleton story.


Wright, Richard.* Black Boy (1945)

The pre-civil rights South as seen through a young man's eyes.


Wu, Frank. Yellow (2001)

Looking at race in America in a new and unexpected way.


Zia, Helen. Asian American Dreams (2000)

The author analyzes the formation of the identity of Asian-Americans.




Aeschylus. The Oresteia (458 BCE)

The trilogy about the curse on the House of Atreus: murders, vengeance, etc.


Albee, Edward.* Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962)

A powerful, disturbing play in which two couples reveal their marital problems over the course of an evening together.


Anouilh, Jean.* Antigone (1944)

The French playwright sets the Antigone story in modern times.


Aristophanes. Lysistrata (411 BCE)

Delightful Greek comedy in which women use wit and beauty to stop a war.


Auburn, David. Proof (2001)

Two sisters reconnect at the time of their mathematician father’s death.


Baraka, Imamu Amir (formerly Le Roi Jones). The Dutchman (1964)

Powerful play on race and gender issues in the U.S.


Beaumarchais, Pierre. The Marriage of Figaro (1776)

A French comedy of intrigue with one of the world’s great comic characters, this play was the source of Mozart’s famous opera.


Beckett, Samuel.* Waiting for Godot (1953)

Famous absurdist tragicomedy of two travelers questioning the meaning of life.


Behan, Brendan. The Quare Fellow (1956)

An Irish play about life in prison the night before an execution.


Bennett, Alan. The History Boys (2006)

Set in a 1980s British boarding school, the play blends history and tragedy.


Bolt, Robert. A Man for All Seasons (1960)

A historical play examining the conflict between Sir Thomas More and King Henry VIII of England, on the issue of private conscience versus public duty.


Brecht, Bertolt.* The Good Woman of Setzuan (1943)

German parable play about how to be virtuous while at the same time surviving in a capitalist society.


Camus, Albert.* Caligula (1938)

Challenging existentialist French drama exploring how a man can be free, focusing on the evil Roman tyrant Caligula.


Chekhov, Anton.* Three Sisters (1901)

Three sisters in a provincial Russian town long for excitement in their frustrating lives.


Churchill, Caryl. Top Girls (1982)

A British business executive celebrating her promotion invites women from history to dinner, including Joan of Arc.


Corneille, Pierre. Le Cid (1686)

French tragedy in which love and honor conflict.


Coward, Noel. Blithe Spirit (1930)

The master of drawing room comedy takes on séances and marriage.


Diamond, Lydia. Stick Fly (2008)

A contemporary African-American family spends a weekend discussing race and relationships on Martha’s Vineyard. 


Durrenmatt, Friedrich. The Physicists (1962)

A dark Swiss comedy about the fate of mankind in a world where scientific discoveries are lethal, focused on three madmen—or are they mad?—in a mental hospital.


Edsen, Margaret. Wit (1999)

The play focuses on what can and cannot sustain one at the hour of her death.

Eliot, T.S.* Murder in the Cathedral (1936)

Verse play about the murder of Thomas a Beckett, who defied King Henry II.


Ensler, Eve.* The Vagina Monologues (2000)

Graphic, witty, and powerful, the play explores female fears and fantasies.


Euripides.* Medea (431 BCE)

The classic (and classical) tragedy of marital betrayal and horrific revenge.


Frayn, Michael. Copenhagen (2000)

What might have happened at the 1941 meeting between Bohr, creator of the atomic bomb, and Heisenberg, head of the Nazi atomic energy program.


Friel, Brien.* Dancing at Lughnasa (1990)

Full of joy and compassion, a play about two days in the life of five unmarried sisters in 1930s Ireland.


Fugard, Athol. Master Harold and the Boys (1982)

A white South African boy in conflict about family and interracial friendships.


Garcia-Lorca, Federico. Blood Wedding (1933)

Haunting symbolic play about a young woman who on the day of her wedding runs away with the man she truly loves, and must face grim consequences.


Gilman, Rebecca. Spinning Into Butter (2000)

Administrators and students try to come to grips with challenges of racism and political correctness on a mostly white college campus.


Gogol, Nicholas. The Inspector General (1836)

Russian farce about a corrupt town waiting to be inspected by “the authorities.”

Gorky, Maxime. The Lower Depths (1902)

Realistic Russian drama about the quarrels and relationships of those at society’s bottom.


Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun (1959)

Members of an African-American family have conflicting dreams of what they want in life.


Hwang, David. M Butterfly (1988)

Play about the clash between Eastern and Western cultures, focusing on a man who learns after 20 years that his mistress is really a man and a spy.


Ibsen, Henrik.* Ghosts (1882)

What happens when a son has venereal disease in a family where respectability is prized?


Ionesco, Eugène.*Rhinoceros (1959)

Absurdist French play mocking mindless conformity.


Kushner, Tony.*Angels in America (1991-93)

Powerful, graphic play series depicting dilemmas, including AIDS, faced by gay men in the U.S.


Linden, Sonja. I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda (2004) 

The story of Juliette, who is determined to write a book on the 1994 genocide that killed her family, and Simon, a failed novelist, who helps people write.


MacLeish, Archibald. J. B. (1958)

Verse drama based on the Biblical story of Job.


Mamet, David.* Oleanna (1991)

An examination of sexual harassment, communication, and power in the relationship gone wrong between a college teacher and student.


Marlowe, Christopher.* Dr. Faustus (1588)

Shakespeare’s great rival as a playwright presents the tragedy of a man who sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge.


Martin, Steve. Picasso at the Lapin Agile (1996)

The comedian’s play about Picasso and Einstein meeting before they become famous.


Miller, Arthur.* Death of a Salesman (1949)

American classic about Willy Loman’s failure as salesman, father, husband.


Molière (Jean Baptiste Poquelin).* The Misanthrope (1661)

French satirical comedy on hypocrisy and the dangers of an apparent excess of virtue.

O’Casey, Sean. Juno and the Paycock (1924)

Irish tragi-comedy set in a Dublin tenement during the 1922 civil war.


O’Neill, Eugene. Long Day’s Journey into Night (1956)

Painful look at an American family’s disintegration due to drugs and alcohol.


Parks, Suzan-Lori. Venus (2003)

A dark comedy exploring the nature of power and exploitation in relationships.


Pinter, Harold.* The Birthday Party (1958)

British absurdist drama about bizarre characters disrupting a quiet life.


Pirandello, Luigi. Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921)

Italian absurdist play about the clash between art and reality when characters from one play interrupt the rehearsal of another.


Racine, Jean. Phèdre (1673)

Chilling French tragedy of a love triangle.


Rostand, Edmund. Cyrano de Bergerac (1897)

Romantic, humorous French verse drama in which a man with a very large nose is obliged to have a friend woo the beautiful Roxanne on his behalf.


Sartre, Jean Paul.* No Exit (1944)

A one-act existentialist play about three strangers trapped forever in one room.


Shaffer, Peter. Equus (1977)

A disturbing play about a psychiatrist and his patient, a boy who has blinded six horses.


Shakespeare, William. Any play by the great Bard of Avon.  Latin students might be particularly interested in Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Anthony and Cleopatra.


Shange, Notozake. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf (1975) Dramatic prose poem on being a black female.


Shaw, George Bernard.* Major Barbara (1905)

Social satire pitting an armaments merchant against the Salvation Army.

Shepard, Sam. Buried Child (1978)

Strange, funny play about a dysfunctional American family.


Sheridan, Richard. The Rivals (1775)

Classic English comedy featuring romance gone awry and the hilarious Mrs. Malaprop, who cannot say anything correctly.


Smith, Anna Deveare.* Fires in the Mirror (1992)

Voices of racism and anti-Semitism fuel New York’s Crown Heights riots.


Sophocles. Oedipus Rex (430 BCE)

Tragedy started here, in the desperation of Oedipus to defy the gods and avoid his pre-ordained fate.


Soyinka, Wole.* Death and the King’s Horseman (1976)

On the clash between traditional Yoruban (Nigeria) and Western culture.


Stoppard, Tom.* Arcadia (1999)

Love, chaos theory, and genius intertwine in a thought-provoking, heartbreaking drama set in two different time periods, including the present, in an English country house.


Strindberg, August.* Miss Julie (1888)

Misogynistic, disturbing Swedish play about a single woman who seduces—or is she seduced by?--a servant.


Synge, John M. The Playboy of the Western World (1907)

Rich, comic Irish play in which a timid young man becomes a hero.


Thomas, Dylan.* Under Milkwood (1953)

A poetic, comic “play for voices” about the Welsh villagers of Llareggub.


Vogel, Paula.* The Mammary Plays (1992)

Powerful, disturbing plays about gender roles, sexuality, and familial abuse.


Webster, John, The Duchess of Malfi (1673)

Elizabethan-Jacobean play of cruelty, horror, and vengeance.


Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest (1875)

Witty Irish comedy of amorous misadventures complicated by mixed identities.


Wilder, Thornton.* Our Town (1938)

This moving play of small town America at the turn of the last century, set in Grover’s Corners, NH, asks: do we truly appreciate life while we are living it?


Williams, Tennessee.* The Glass Menagerie (1944)

Heartbreaking yet beautiful American play about a disabled girl whose mother refuses to see her as she is and who tries, just once, to connect to someone outside the family.


Wilson, August.* Fences (1985)

A black baseball player in the 1950’s struggles so hard against racism he does not see the other barriers he builds-- one play of a ten-play cycle.




Nowadays most poets publish small books of their poems every 5-10 years. When they reach old age or die, their publishers issue a Collected Poems, featuring their best works. The poets listed on the following pages published many small books, which you can find by researching the poets’ names. Any of these qualify.

However, since these individual books go out of print quickly, they are often hard to find. You may find it easier to look for a poet's Collected Poems or just take up whatever book of his or hers that you can find. That is why we have listed names, rather than titles, in the Poetry section that follows.

Just start with the name of a poet who sounds interesting and search for it in your computer, library, or local bookstore. Reading 20-25 poems qualifies as a “book.” Happy hunting! Oh, yes. We have also listed poets you might enjoy who wrote during the 19thC and earlier.             



Akhmatova, Anna.

A living witness to the chaos and pain of 20thC Russia.


Alexie, Sherman.

In One Stick Song she writes with humor and irony of the mistreatment of Native Americans.


Alvarez, Julia.

Thoughtful, accessible poems drawing on childhood memories.


Amichai, Yehuda.

An Israeli poet of great sensitivity.


Arnold, Matthew.

Mid-19thC British poet famed for “Dover Beach.”


Auden, W. H.

The mid-20thC British-American master of social commentary.


Baraka, Imamu Amir.

A strong, enduring African-American male



Basho, Matsuo.

The famous 17thC poet of haiku.


Baudelaire, Charles.

Innovative 19thC French poet, author of The Flowers of Evil, and the first to experiment with prose poems.


Benet, Stephen V.

His brilliant epic poem John Brown’s Body recounts the Civil War in verse.


Bishop, Elizabeth.

An inventive American poet with a playful voice.


Blake, William.

Influential British mystic—and the author of “Jerusalem.”


Bly, Robert.

Strong, accessible poems about nature and our deepest selves.

Brooks, Gwendolyn.

A major lyric voice of early 20thC American poetry.


Browning, Elizabeth Barrett.

Psychological poems by a brilliant British writer.


Carlson, Lori M.

Editor of Cool Salsa, poems in English, Spanish, and “Spanglish.”


Chaucer, Geoffrey.

His famous Canterbury Tales is a collection of all sorts of stories—romantic, ribald, and religious—told by an imaginary group of pilgrims heading to Canterbury Cathedral in medieval England.


Cisneros, Sandra.

Her book Loose Women frankly examines relationships and sexuality.


Coleridge, Samuel Taylor.

Imaginative British poet known for “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Kubla Khan.”


Collins, Billy.

The Poet Laureate of the United States writes accessible, moving, and often humorous poems.


cummings, e. e.

The master of the lyrical, sprightly, uncapitalized poem.



Dante Aligheri’s Inferno, available in many translations, is a vivid trip through Hell, all its gruesome tortures, and back.


Dao, Bei.

The 20thC Chinese poet.


Dickinson, Emily.

The Belle of Amherst continues to amaze with her concise, vivid poems on all sorts of topics, including love, death, and God. Recommended title: The Poems of Emily Dickinson (R. W. Franklin, editor).


Dietz, Maggie.

Poems that deal with “hinge” experiences of joy and trauma; try Perennial Fall.


Dove, Rita.

A visitor to Winsor, she has a lovely book, American Smooth.


Eliot, T. S.

His surrealistic collage poem The Waste Land reflects the angst of the war-torn 20thC.


Ferlinghetti, Lawrence.

In books like A Coney Island of the Mind his informal, chatty “street verse” became the voice of the 1960s and 1970s.


Frost, Robert.

Virtually no one writes better about nature than the grand old poet from NH.


Ginsberg, Allen. 

Walt Whitman’s heir in his long lines and long lists of observations; his Howl and other poems challenged conformist 20thC America.


Giovanni, Nikki.

Perhaps the liveliest commentator on race and sexuality in contemporary American poetry.


Hall, Donald.

Our current Poet Laureate’s White Apples and a Taste of Stone is wonderful.


Harrison, Jeffrey.

The husband of one of Winsor’s art teachers, he has a fine new book, Incomplete Knowledge.


Heaney, Seamus.

The world-renowned Irish poet has a rough, beautiful sound that is all his own.



His Iliad, an epic poem like his Odyssey, tells the thrilling full story of the Trojan War.


Hopkins, Gerard Manley.

A Christian British poet whose use of alliteration and assonance makes thrilling music.


Houseman, A. E.

British poet whose A Shropshire Lad and other poems speak of ordinary people.


Hughes, Langston.

A major American voice, writing of love, family, jazz, dreams, and Harlem.


Keats, John.

The British Romantic poet of precocious talent who wrote “Ode to a Nightingale.”


Kumin, Maxine.

The NH poet who writes clearly and movingly of nature and animals.


Levertov, Denise.

One of the largest talents in American poetry of the last 100 years, the poet is a careful observer of nature and people, and decidedly anti-war.


Lowell, Robert.

20thC Boston poet who wrote often of New Englanders.


Masters, Edgar Lee.

In his free-verse book Spoon River Anthology 244 former citizens of Spoon River, IL, now deceased, tell us the truth about their lives from beyond the grave.


Millay, Edna St. Vincent.

This 20thC American wrote powerful poems about love and life.


Milton, John.

His epic poem Paradise Lost is a retelling of Genesis featuring Adam, Eve, and Satan.


Mistral, Gabriel.

The 20thC Chilean poet.


Neruda, Pablo.

Haunting, atmospheric poems by a Chilean writer who has been called “the greatest poet of the 20thC, in any language.”


Olds, Sharon.

Provocative, wry late 20thC poems.


Oliver, Mary.

Beautiful poems about nature, life, and love by the Cape Cod poet.


Owen, Wilfred.

The British poet wrote some of the finest World War I anti-war poems in the language.


Plath, Sylvia.

The best known and most honest of America’s “confessional” poets.


Sandburg, Carl.

Powerful free verse poems from the Midwest about and for “regular people.”



The ancient Greek poet’s “love songs” still ring true today.


Snyder, Gary.

Accessible, sensitive, “green” California poet devoted to nature and Buddhism.


Shelly, Percy Bysshe.

Imaginative, lyrical British Romantic poet who wrote “Ode to the West Wind.”


Soto, Gary.

A major Latin voice in contemporary American poetry.


Stevens, Wallace.

A quirky 20thC American master with piercing intelligence.


Tennyson, Alfred Lord.

British Victorian poet who wrote narrative as well as lyrical poems of great scope.


Thomas, Dylan.

Strong Welsh poet with a voice full of sound who wrote on love, death, and the natural beauty of the countryside.


Virgil. The Aeneid (c.19 BCE)  (Read the David West translation)

The epic poem describes the thrilling legend of Aeneas, the Trojan who traveled to Italy where he became the ancestor of the Romans.