World Masterpieces: Mark's Book List

Article by mark

What makes a masterpiece a masterpiece? Who can say? But surely books that have survived, no, thrived through the ages, created different outlooks and/or discussions and shown new ways of seeing the world must be a prerequisite. Often a literature is created simply out of the book itself; studies and dissertations and so on. But what about the book itself? Here are just a few books that we consider masterpieces of the world, books we've been highlighting this past month at the store. Don’t see Kafka or Garcia Marquez, Baldwin or Tolstoy? That’s what’s great about the classics - there’s so many!

Moby-Dick: Or, the Whale Cover Image
By Herman Melville, Andrew Delbanco (Introduction by), Tom Quirk (Commentaries by)
$15.00
ISBN: 9780142437247
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - December 31st, 2002

Although I spent my younger years resenting this book, if one reads it at the proper age (anytime after 30) it will usually click. It's strange, biblical and postmodern in every way. You want a modern book? Pick up MOBY DICK. The trials of a sea captain, Ishmael and a cast of others are really just vehicles in this philosophical whirlwind that dissects humanity, religion and the color white. And that's just for starters. Years later it is still one of the greatest reading experiences of my life.


Don Quixote Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780060934347
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - April 26th, 2005

What many consider to be the very first novel. It is funny, charming and self-aware. A book about books and reading and the madness of imagination. There are lots of translations, but Esther Allen's is lucid, heartfelt and moves at a quick pace. Don't be intimidated by its size; the small, episodic chapters make the book swim by.


The Handmaid's Tale Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780385490818
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - March 13th, 1998

Prophetic and, sadly, very timely, Atwood's dystopian world is fully formed and haunting. It boldly discusses women in subjugation and the fight for individualism in a world under totalitarianism. Read the book for the incredible writing and haunting moral questions. Read it to become aware.


The Magic Mountain Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9780679772873
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - October 1st, 1996

Largely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature, THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN is a large, breathtaking and surprisingly funny read. Don't get me wrong, it has its heavy themes - war, illness, time - but it's also highly readable. Largely taking place in a sanatorium, the novel mixes realistic elements with symbolism, leaving it for the reader to discern the meaning (and humor) behind the action (or inaction) taking place. This novel is a major achievement.


To the Lighthouse Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780156907392
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harvest Books - December 27th, 1989

Not all masterpieces come in 500-page plus tomes. Some are able to sneak in and grab the reader in just 100 pages, changing their lives forever. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE is a slim, modernist novel that takes place over two periods of time, and is divided into three sections. It largely eschews dialogue and action, but is packed with internal, philosophical introspection. The stream-of-consciousness style is difficult for some readers, but Woolf is a genius and her words fairly glow from the page. A book that deals with time, memory and human experience; it accomplishes more in less than 200 pages than most books approaching 1,000.


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