Chapter 25: V - 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List (2022)

V

The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)

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1888 letter with sketch for The Sower

A Portrait of the Artist in His Own Words

Sometimes I regret that I cannot make up my mind to work more at home and extempore. The imagination is certainly a faculty which we must develop, one which alone can lead us to the creation of a more exalting and consoling nature than the single brief glance at reality—which in our sight is ever changing, passing like a flash of lightning—can let us perceive.

A starry sky, for instance—look, that is something I should like to try to do, just as in the daytime I am going to try to paint a green meadow spangled with dandelions.

Van Gogh to émile Bernard, 1888

Van Gogh’s letters are among the most remarkable documents in the history of both art and literature. They chart, over a period of eighteen years (nearly half the painter’s life span), the exertions, enthusiasms, disappointments, and ecstasies of a troubled and inspired mind.

The piercing virtue of Van Gogh’s art—the fierce yet sympathetic energies of attention that he lavished on flowers, fields, and figures—is apparent, too, in his vivid letters to family (especially and predominantly his brother Theo), friends, and fellow painters such as Gauguin and Bernard. The several hundred pieces of correspondence he penned (often with accompanying illustrations; look for an edition that reproduces at least some of these) are the primary source of our knowledge of his life; they also provide a kind of real-time witness to his thinking about his work. Together they constitute the dramatic and compelling autobiography of a strong, sorrowful, sensitive vision searching for sustenance from life’s daily bread.

What: Diaries & Letters. When: 1893. Editions: The pioneering three-volume set from the New York Graphic Society (quoted here) was published in 1958. In 2009, a six-volume, newly translated complete edition, with reproductions of two thousand works of art, was published by Thames and Hudson. Numerous smaller volumes offer satisfying alternatives to the deluxe sets. All the letters are also archived online. Further Reading: Lust for Life by Irving Stone. Try: The Journal of Eugène

For Jack Vance’s The Dying

Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects

Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574)

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The Sermon to the Birds by Giotto, ca. 1300

Artists as Models

Cimabue and Giotto; Duccio and Uccello; Masaccio, Brunelleschi, and Donatello; Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, and Leon Battista Alberti; Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Mantegna, and Andrea del Sarto; the “divine trio” of Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo—the glory of Renaissance art is evoked by this roster of sonorous names. Although these artists may get star billing in a modern reader’s mind, there are eight score more whose biographies Giorgio Vasari saw fit to portray in his pioneering where the history of art was for the first time seen as the stories of the painters, sculptors, and architects who made it.

The stories are told by an author who was nearly contemporary with many of his subjects, and a colleague (Vasari was apprenticed to Andrea del Sarto and became an accomplished if ultimately minor painter himself); this seeds the text with a working knowledge that has kept it good reading for more than four centuries. His ear for gossip helps, too; just as one can call his Lives the first great work of serious art history, one can also identify in more than a few of his portraits the stirrings of the celebrity profile—the potent headline-generating potential of genius tinged with eccentricity. “Speak, speak, or be damned!” shouts Donatello at his statues: It’s not hard to imagine this as a pull quote on a photo spread in Vanity And a cool Hollywood antihero has nothing on Giotto: When an emissary from Pope Benedict IX showed up and requested a sample of his work for a possible commission, the artist dipped his brush in red, “pressed his arm to his side to make a compass of it, and with a turn of his hand made a circle so even in its shape and outline that it was a marvel to behold. After he had completed the circle, he said with an impudent grin to the courtier: ‘Here’s your drawing.’” The pope’s messenger thought he was being ridiculed; the pope, infallible in this instance at least, saw the import of the artist’s calling card and summoned him to Rome.

Although Vasari’s biographies are more journalistic than scholarly, two important innovations run through them and, by virtue of his work’s influence, through much of the art history that followed him. The first, easy to take for granted today, represents an enormous achievement. With no illustrations in the earliest editions of his book, Vasari had to find a vocabulary to discuss the momentous art produced by his subjects: for example, meaning the capacity to combine skill in drawing with a larger sense of design; or grace; and, in acute appreciation of Michelangelo’s intensity of execution and expression, Second, he traced a progressive arc from Cimabue to Michelangelo in sophistication and expression that exalted the Florentine artistic legacy and has governed most people’s appreciation of Renaissance art ever since. He had a very good eye, and a very agile pen.

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What: Art. Biography. When: First edition, 1550; revised and enlarged, 1568. Editions: Translated by Julia Conaway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella (and quoted above), the Oxford World’s Classics edition, titled The Lives of the offers an abundant selection. The Everyman’s Library two-volume, 2,200-page set is complete. Further Reading: The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art by Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney. Try: The Autobiography of Benvenuto

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Jules Verne (1828–1905)

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The crew of the Nautilus fights a giant squid. Illustration by Henri Théophile Hildibrand, 1877

A Timeless Voyage from a Sci-Fi Pioneer

Before submarines were actually invented, Jules Verne, a prolific French pioneer of science fiction and one of the most widely read authors in history, dreamed of what it would be like to use one to travel around the world underwater. And although Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is now considerably more than a hundred years old, it is still a thrilling and wonderfully entertaining fantasy of deep-sea adventure.

The story opens with the sighting of a mysterious sea monster. An expedition is mounted to hunt it down, and the novel’s narrator, marine biologist Pierre Aronnax, joins the crew. The search extends into the Pacific, where the creature is finally found and attacked. During the fight, Professor Aronnax, his assistant Conseil, and harpooner Ned Land are thrown overboard. They end up right on top of the beast—which, they discover, is in fact an underwater vehicle. Brought inside, the trio meets the ship’s inventor and commander, Captain Nemo. Brilliant, odd, slightly crazed, and with a name that is Latin for “No One,” Nemo teaches his guests about his amazing electrically powered submarine, which he has christened the Off they all set, through the underwater world, seeing its marvels as no one has before. (Twenty thousand leagues, incidentally, is the distance the Nautilus travels, not the depth to which it descends.) Eventually, after feasting their eyes on awe-inspiring wonders as well as surviving the onslaught of a giant squid, Aronnax and his two pals escape from the Nautilus and make it back to land.

When it comes to describing life beneath the waves, Verne mixes reported fact with his own luxuriant imaginings; it’s the latter that keep the book fresh. And although Verne was prophetic in some ways, including about the military use of submarines, the real reason to read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is to be on board as a master storyteller sounds the watery deep.

What: Children’s. Science Fiction. When: 1870. Also By: Paris in the Twentieth Century (1863). Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864). From the Earth to the Moon (1865). Around the Moon (1870). Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). The Mysterious Island (1874). Further Reading: The World of Jules Verne by Gonzague Saint Bris. Try: The Time Machine and The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells. The Maracot Deep by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Adaptations: From a 1916 silent movie right up to the present day, Verne’s underwater saga has attracted numerous filmmakers, TV producers, and animators. Perhaps the most famous adaptation is the 1954 Disney version starring James Mason as Captain Nemo, with Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre along for the ride. Footnote: Captain Nemo is a major figure in the graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill.

Burr

A Novel

Gore Vidal (1925–2012)

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History as a Novel, the Novel as History

A scion of American aristocracy (such as it was), Gore Vidal was also its scourge. No writer took greater pleasure in skewering the pieties in which we wrap our founding myths, our imperial ambitions, or our cultural righteousness, and none was as gleeful in exposing the corruptions and peccadilloes that from time to time debase our democracy and spice our public life. His considerable oeuvre ranged from the provocative to the erudite to the elegant. Into the first category fall The City and the Pillar (1948), with its unapologetic treatment of homosexuality, and Myra Breckinridge (1968), with its comically apocalyptic treatment of gender-bending; into the second, his novels of the ancient world, including Julian (1964) and Creation (1981), both entertaining and deliciously informative performances; into the last, many of his essays, such as “The Oz Books” or “Homage to Daniel Shays” (at their best, Vidal’s essays on subjects literary, historical, and personal stand equal in eloquence and alertness to any penned in the past century).

Vidal’s signal achievement is the series of seven novels that trace our political life from the epoch of the Revolution to the era of JFK. Written out of chronological sequence and gathered together after the fact under the rubrics “Narratives of Empire” or “The American Chronicle,” these lively, fact-based (1973); Lincoln (1984); 1876 (1976); Empire (1987); Hollywood (1990); Washington, D.C. (1964); The Golden Age (2000)—are an astonishingly engaging course in our nation’s past. The author’s urge to debunk with insider’s insight the personalities of the powerful adds piquancy to his portraits of grandees from Washington and Jefferson to Henry Adams, William Randolph Hearst, and Franklin Roosevelt. Fortunately, the history is as good as the gossip—often, as in grippingly so.

But the book devoted to the exploits of Aaron Burr (1756–1836) is in a class by itself. Most famous for killing Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel, Burr served as third vice president of the United States (a post he assumed after tying Jefferson in the presidential electoral vote). During Jefferson’s second administration, Burr was tried for treason for an alleged conspiracy to create an independent empire in the unsettled American West. The auras of both distinction and disgrace he carries with him into old age—he is seventy-seven when the novel begins—make him a perfect protagonist for Vidal. As the young journalist who narrates the tale, Charlie Schuyler, puts it about his elderly friend, “He makes even a trip to the barber seem like a plot to overthrow the state.”

In Vidal’s depiction, Burr is charming (marrying a rich widow despite his advanced years), savvy (leveraging his connection to the current occupant of the office of vice president, Martin Van Buren, who may or may not be his illegitimate son), and scheming (he still has eyes for a large parcel of land in Texas). Best of all, he is wholly fascinating as he shares his memories with Schuyler, replete with unflattering intelligence regarding his legendary comrades in the early years of our federal government (none of whom impressed Burr). Witty and enlivened with intrigue throughout, Burr is, quite simply, a joy to read.

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Gore Vidal, 1968

What: Novel. When: 1973. Also By: Two Sisters (1970). United States: Essays 1952–1992 (1993). Palimpsest: A Memoir (1995). Further Reading: Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America by Thomas Fleming. Try: I, Claudius by Robert Graves. Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow.

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The Aeneid

Virgil (70

bc

–19

bc

)

The Grandeur That Was Rome and the Griefs That Haunt Our Lives

Epics are powerful magnets, drawing close the values and qualities a culture prizes, extracting from myth, history, and time itself the character and vision of a people. The most literary of antiquity’s epics and the most noble and formidable work of Latin literature, Virgil’s Aeneid encompasses the fall of Troy; Aeneas’s wanderings from Troy to Sicily to Carthage; his ill-fated liaison with Dido, Carthage’s queen; his journey to the underworld; and his final arrival in Italy, where fierce warfare with native tribes paves the way for the completion of the task he has been assigned by Jupiter: the founding of Rome.

Virgil’s celebration of the great city and the grandeur of Aeneas’s civilizing mission is tempered by his sensitivity to the human price such greatness exacts. His rendering of Dido’s heartbreaking love for Aeneas, for example, and of the enemy warrior Turnus’s death, color his epic with profound, elegiac sympathy for the private griefs great events engender. In the first of the poem’s twelve books, Aeneas is moved to tears by a painting of the Trojan war—a war he had survived. In what may be the poem’s most telling lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia laments the sorrows that surround experience and how mortality touches the heart; the hero’s invocation of “tears of pity for a mortal world” (in Sarah Ruden’s translation; see page 824) are emblematic of the poem’s distinctive emotional tenor.

Written in the reign of the emperor Augustus during the last decade of the author’s life, the work, although nearly complete in twelve books, was unfinished at the time of Virgil’s death in 19

bc

. It remains a whole and satisfying reading experience nonetheless. Although it sings of arms and the man—as its first words virumque famously announce—and of acts of courage and heroism, Virgil’s epic is notable for its veneration of Aeneas’s Roman virtues: devotion to family, loyalty to homeland, piety, duty.

Line by line, the long poem is intricately composed, yet the sweep of the narrative is stirring as Aeneas overcomes all obstacles to fulfill the imperial destiny he has been divinely charged to enact. The conflict between fate and free will that torments him as he struggles to reconcile his duty to the gods with his private desires underlies the drama of the poem’s most famous episodes, such as the anguish of Dido at the hero’s departure from Carthage, or the final farewell between Aeneas and his father in the underworld. These unforgettable scenes remain among the most moving in the history of literature, and they endow Virgil’s ancient Roman tale with timeless and universal truths.

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Late medieval depictions of scenes from The Aeneid

What: Literature. Antiquity. When: Begun ca. 30

bc

; unfinished at the author’s death. Editions: There are many excellent English translations, beginning with John Dryden’s (1697) and culminating in a quartet of superb modern renderings by Allen Mandelbaum (1971), Robert Fitzgerald (1983), Robert Fagles (2006), and Sarah Ruden (2008). Any of these four will serve the contemporary reader well, although Ruden’s decision to keep to a single metrical line for each line of Latin gives her work a concentration that—combined with her verbal ingenuity and narrative lucidity—makes her version especially pleasing. Also By: Eclogues (ca. 37

bc

). Georgics (ca. 30

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bc

). Further Reading: Virgil’s Aeneid: A Reader’s Guide by David O. Ross. Virgil: A Study in Civilized Poetry by Brooks Otis. Virgil by David R. Slavitt. Try: Homer’s The Iliad and The Dante’s The Divine Ariosto’s Orlando Adaptations: Henry Purcell’s 1689 opera Dido and Aeneas is based upon the fourth book of the Hector Berlioz’s opera Les Troyens also draws from Virgil’s epic.

Candide, or Optimism

Voltaire (1694–1778)

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Illustration from an 1809 edition of Candide

The Best of All Possible Worlds

Voltaire, the nom de plume of François-Marie Arouet, was in many ways the guiding spirit of the eighteenth-century European Enlightenment. Through many decades of literary achievement, philosophical argument, and political intrigue, including long periods of exile from Paris, he turned his native irreverence toward all institutions of authority into an enduring legacy that championed the exposure of injustice, the advocacy of toleration, and the advancement of human rights. His collected works run to 150 volumes. But for all its brevity, is his magnum opus.

This darkly comic narrative reads like a surreal version of a medieval book of marvels, in which all the signs and wonders the hero encounters in his travels are calamities, each one more gruesome than the last. At the outset, we are introduced to the innocent young man who gives the book its name. Despite being illegitimately born, Candide lives in a castle in Westphalia in the company of nobility. We soon make the acquaintance of the princess Cunégonde and a tutor named Pangloss. The latter is a master of “metaphysico-theologico-cosmo-nigology” who espouses the principle that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Such teaching, emanating from the theological optimism advanced by Voltaire’s contemporary, the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was in intellectual vogue at the time of writing and is the primary target of the book’s scathing and sustained satire. Voltaire’s ridicule of this “all’s right with the world” thinking was prompted in large measure by the earthquake that struck Lisbon in 1757, resulting in the loss of more than thirty thousand lives. How could such suffering exist in the best of all possible worlds?

Throughout the novella’s thirty brief chapters, Candide is taught over and over a lesson strikingly at odds with Pangloss’s optimistic instruction, starting with his expulsion from the castle for canoodling with the willing Cunégonde. Thus commences the whirlwind picaresque that leads him around the world—from Germany to Portugal to England to the Americas to Constantinople and beyond—to discover one locus of misery after another. He is conscripted into the army and beset by tempests, shipwreck, and earthquake; he is flogged, robbed, and tortured by the Inquisition. At first separated from Cunégonde, Pangloss, and other Westphalians, Candide is reunited with them again and again through a series of coincidences and reversals of fortune in which characters left for dead in one country turn up alive, if not so well—one loses a nose, another a buttock—halfway around the globe. As many readers have pointed out, the Monty Python crew would be right at home in the scenes Voltaire portrays.

The novella is more like a musical composition of theme and variation than a conventional literary work: Recurring motifs of hope and despair color but never slow the piece’s brisk, brilliant tempo. Although the tale’s one hundred or so pages are a catalog of catastrophes, the style is always sprightly. As one critic wrote of Voltaire’s prose in general, “His great work is always scored allegro vivace.” Made to dance and dangle like a puppet on a string, Candide suffers indignity upon indignity until, at last, reunited with Cunégonde and the others on a modest farm, he surrenders to his small fate. No matter what larger plots history, theology, and nature may devise, Voltaire suggests, our only solace resides in a private plot of our own, as the tale’s famous closing line, spoken by Candide, concludes: “We must cultivate our garden.”

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Portrait of Voltaire, 1754

What: Novella. When: 1759. Editions: Three English translations appeared in the year of the work’s original publication in French, including one by novelist Tobias Smollett; countless others have appeared since. Also By: Letters Concerning the English Nation (1733). Zadig (1747). Mircromégas (1752). Treatise on Toleration (1763). Philosophical Dictionary (1764). Try: Rasselas by Samuel Johnson. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Jacques the Fatalist by Denis Diderot. Adaptation: Leonard Bernstein’s glittering operetta, premiered in 1956 and was revised several times with the help of a stellar cast of writers and lyricists, including Lillian Hellman, Richard Wilbur, Dorothy Parker, and Stephen Sondheim; its music is sheer delight.

Elizabeth and Her German Garden

Elizabeth von Arnim (1866–1941)

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Cultivating Friendship

There are writers who conjure a voice so easygoing that the reader is seduced into a kind of literary conversation that feels a lot like friendship. When that chord of intimacy has been struck, any book the author pens can seem like a letter filled with news, gossip, and the consolations of a companionship more restorative than any real-life connection—fraught with the demands and duties of reciprocal attention—could ever be.

With her first book, Elizabeth von Arnim struck such a chord with countless readers. Elizabeth and Her German Garden is a slightly fictionalized, comic diary of a woman’s year on an estate in Pomerania, delighting in the refuge her private landscape affords.

May 16th. The garden is the place I go to for refuge and shelter, not the house. In the house are duties and annoyances, servants to exhort and admonish, furniture, and meals; but out there blessings crowd round me at every step.

Inside, too, is her upright Teutonic husband, whom she drolly dubs “The Man of Wrath,” and for whom she evinces a mixture of irritation, affection, and irreverence. Outdoors, she can escape routine, read favorite books, play with her babies, and revel in the natural allure of flowers, trees, and even weeds. Through Elizabeth’s eyes we watch the seasons change, each one bringing in its turn new incidents and personalities—all material for the amused personal journey she portrays with a disarming combination of mockery and gentleness.

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Von Arnim’s debut created such a sensation and found such a large audience that the character Elizabeth became what today would be called a brand. She went on to write some twenty books, including the beloved novel The Enchanted April (1922) and her marvelous autobiography, All the Dogs of My Life (1936), but she, and her readers, first found her captivating voice in her cultivated German refuge.

What: Memoir. When: 1898. Also By: The Solitary Summer (1899). The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rügen (1904). Mr. Skeffington (1940). Try: Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield. Perfume from Provence by Winifred Fortescue.

Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007)

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Kurt Vonnegut, 1972

The Genre-Blending Antiwar Classic of the 1960s

Many thousands died when Allied planes firebombed Dresden, Germany, in February 1945. Kurt Vonnegut, an American soldier being held there as a prisoner of war, survived because he was confined to number five, an airtight, impregnable underground meat locker. When the future author and his fellow prisoners emerged from their shelter, they found a landscape of unimaginable destruction and were put to work unearthing corpses from the ruins.

This strange and compelling novel is the tale that Vonnegut eventually crafted from the horror of his Dresden experience. Its main character, Billy Pilgrim, resembles Vonnegut in that he, too, is a POW who survives Dresden’s immolation thanks to the protection of the slaughterhouse. Although the laying waste of the city is described in just a few sentences, it is the central event of the book; the profound effect Slaughterhouse-Five had on its first generation of readers—and its continuing resonance—stems from the elaborate phantasmagorical web that Vonnegut weaves around this gruesome reality.

Before the publication of Vonnegut had made a name for himself as a science fiction writer, but the genre’s constraints were never really able to contain his imagination. To tell the story of Billy Pilgrim, he juxtaposes the harrowing historical and autobiographical aspects of its inspiration with outrageous—and brilliantly effective—sci-fi elements. One of these is time travel: Billy Pilgrim, we’re told early on, is “unstuck in time,” and throughout the novel a force beyond his control pulls him from one era of his life to another in chronologically disjointed episodes. From childhood to army service, optometry school to mental hospital (where he receives electroshock treatments), from marriage and suburban prosperity to abduction by aliens in flying saucers, the progress of this pilgrim is most peculiar.

Throughout, the casual, insin­uating authorial voice holds the reader rapt as Vonnegut combines the disparate components of his plot into a vivid indictment of the insanity of war and the absurdity of modern ways of life that corrupt both private and public rules of human engagement. The quiet tolling of the phrase “So it goes,” which punctuates every death in the novel, expresses Vonnegut’s tragic sense of life with a characteristically offhand knowingness.

In Vonnegut created an uncompromisingly idiosyncratic, intensely affecting work that not only reflected but also helped shape antiwar and counterculture sentiments of the late 1960s; it remains offbeat and eloquent today.

What: Novel. When: 1969. Also By: Player Piano (1952). The Sirens of Titan (1959). Mother Night (1961). Cat’s Cradle (1963). God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965). Breakfast of Champions (1973). Slapstick (1976). Jailbird (1979). Deadeye Dick (1982). Galapagos (1985). Bluebeard (1987). Hocus Pocus (1990). Timequake (1997). A Man Without a Country (2005). Armageddon in Retrospect (2008). Try: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. War with the Newts by Karel Capek. Adaptation: Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, and Valerie Perrine star in the 1972 film, directed by George Roy Hill. Footnote: The asteroid “25399 Vonnegut” is named in the author’s honor.

Girl in Hyacinth Blue

A Novel

Susan Vreeland (1946–2017)

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A Fiction Faithful to the Spirit of Vermeer

How little of our life makes it out into the world. Hour by quiet hour, we sail seas of desire and dread, expectation and anxiety, wish and disillusion, as we go through the undistinguished motions that describe us publicly to our friends and neighbors, our colleagues and coworkers, even the members of our family. The drama of our private voyage is seldom made manifest in a way that envisions the value we attach to it. It was the genius of the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer to capture such modest yet intense meaning on his canvases, in household scenes of unremarkable events that nonetheless portray the hopes and hesitations of the heart.

In this lovely and absorbing book, Susan Vreeland traces a putative Vermeer in Hyacinth in time through three centuries, from its theft by a Nazi officer through the hands of several owners to the studio of the artist himself. In a series of linked stories, Vreeland conveys the private lives and inscrutable emotions for which the mysterious, evocative figure of the painting stands as an emblem. Each story details a domestic drama in which “the momentous ordinary,” in the author’s phrase, is honored and ennobled, even as its characters—a family of Dutch Jews celebrating Passover the year before their deportation; a devoted couple consoled by the embrace of their long marriage; Vermeer’s daughter Magdalena, the model for the girl in the portrait—fall under the sway of history’s calamities and time’s indifference. What remains, Vreeland tells us, of their “loneliness or suffering or grief,” or, in the end, their love, is what has been, as Magdalena realizes, “borrowed by an artist to be seen by other people throughout the years who would never see them face to face.” Like the real paintings that are its inspirations, Girl in Hyacinth Blue is a quietly astonishing articulation of the evanescent emotions that convey enduring human truths.

What: Novel. When: 1999. Also By: The Passion of Artemesia (2002). The Forest Lover (2004). Luncheon of the Boating Party (2007). Further Reading: Johannes Vermeer by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. A Study of Vermeer by Edward Snow. Try: A Coin in Nine Hands by Marguerite Yourcenar. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. Adaptation: A Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation, titled Brush with Fate and starring Ellen Burstyn and Glenn Close, appeared in 2003.

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FAQs

What are the 1000 books to read before you die? ›

1000 Books To Read Before You Die Shelf
  • Little Women (Paperback) ...
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1) ...
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #1) ...
  • Pride and Prejudice (Paperback) ...
  • Fahrenheit 451 (Kindle Edition) ...
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Paperback)

How do you find a book if you forgot the title and author? ›

Some search engines are more specialized for book searches.
  1. BookFinder.
  2. WorldCat.
  3. The Library of Congress.
  4. Goodreads.
  5. Abe Books: BookSleuth.
  6. LibraryThing: Name That Book.
  7. Facebook.
  8. Twitter.
Jul 21, 2022

What are the top 3 most read books? ›

We've got a list of the most read books in the world of all time.
  • The Holy Bible.
  • The Holy Quran.
  • The Harry Potter Series: J.K. Rowling.
  • The Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse Tung.
  • The Lord of the Rings.
  • The Alchemist.
  • The Diary of Anne Frank: Anne Frank.
  • The Twilight SagA: Stephenie Meyer.
Mar 24, 2021

How do you read 1000 books in a year? ›

One hour of reading per day can hit 30-40 books per year. Six hours of reading per day can hit 200-250 books per year. To read 1,000 books in a year, you need to read 22 hours per day.

Should you read before you die podcast? ›

Should you read before you die? on Apple Podcasts. Hosted by Josh Anish, this literary podcast hopes to help folks read the best really-important books before they die, and skip the ones that are a waste of precious time.

What happen when you read a lot? ›

Reading is good for you because it improves your focus, memory, empathy, and communication skills. It can reduce stress, improve your mental health, and help you live longer. Reading also allows you to learn new things to help you succeed in your work and relationships.

What to do when you can't remember the name of a book? ›

If you can remember just one word of the title, use the search function on Goodreads or Library Thing to find long lists of titles with a particular word. Goodreads' browse-able lists of titles that readers have shelved in unique categories, such as authors' professions or decades of publication, may also be helpful.

What is book name? ›

The title of a book, or any other published text or work of art, is a name for the work which is usually chosen by the author. A title can be used to identify the work, to put it in context, to convey a minimal summary of its contents, and to pique the reader's curiosity.

What is the #1 book in the world? ›

Top 100 best selling books of all time
RankTitleAuthor
1Da Vinci Code,TheBrown, Dan
2Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsRowling, J.K.
3Harry Potter and the Philosopher's StoneRowling, J.K.
4Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixRowling, J.K.
45 more rows

What is considered the greatest book of all time? ›

The Greatest Books of All Time
  1. 1 . In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. ...
  2. 2 . Ulysses by James Joyce. ...
  3. 3 . Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. ...
  4. 4 . One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. ...
  5. 5 . The Great Gatsby by F. ...
  6. 6 . Moby Dick by Herman Melville. ...
  7. 7 . War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. ...
  8. 8 .

What is the #1 selling book of all time? ›

According to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.

What is the most read book now? ›

The 10 Most Popular Books Right Now
  • Where the Crawdads Sing. ...
  • It Starts with Us: A Novel. ...
  • Verity. ...
  • The Daughter of Doctor Moreau. ...
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer I Turned Pretty Series #1) ...
  • The It Girl (Signed Book) ...
  • Ugly Love. Paperback $14.49 $16.99. ...
  • Killing Stalking: Deluxe Edition Vol. Paperback $27.99.
6 days ago

What is the name of 10 famous book? ›

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

How many books can a person read in a lifetime? ›

The average reader will complete 12 books in a year. If the life expectancy is 86 for females and 82 for males, and the proper reading age 25 years, Literary Hub notes that the average number of books read in a lifetime is 735 for females and 684 for males.

How many words does the average person read in a lifetime? ›

In this book, Gales has written that on average a person speaks 860,341,500 words in his entire life.

How many words does the average person read a day? ›

Americans on average read or hear 100,000 words per day. Americans on average read or hear 100,000 words per day.

Can reading too much damage your brain? ›

Reading is a beneficial activity. But reading too much can also kill your brain's productivity especially when no new meanings are created. If you are simply reading without deeper processing, you don't benefit much from it.

What happens to your brain if you don't read? ›

It helps your brain grasp opportunities and helps you see things you could not see before. If you don't read, nothing happens. You remain the same as the world advances without you. Reading is one of the most important things you can do to exercise your mind and your discernment.

Is reading before bed good? ›

Reading before bed can reduce stress

Similar to how physical exercise strengthens the body, cognitive exercises — like reading — are important to strengthen the mind. Strong cognitive function can help reduce mental chatter, which in turn, helps us drop into a quiet state of relaxation.

What is my book cave? ›

If you're looking for free books to read, Book Cave has you covered! We offer daily free ebooks that you can get directly from your favorite retailers—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, and more! Ready to join tens of thousands of happy readers?

How do you bind a book? ›

How to Bind a Book - YouTube

Which book is best for life? ›

The Most Life-Changing Books
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. ...
  • Mindset by Carol Dweck. ...
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. ...
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. ...
  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. ...
  • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. ...
  • The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. ...
  • Start With Why by Simon Sinek.
Jul 7, 2022

What is the name of any famous book? ›

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

What is the most important part of the book? ›

We all know the climax of the book is the most important part. It's where your character faces the biggest obstacle in achieving their goal in the book.

What is the 2nd most read book in the world? ›

The second most read book in the world is the Holy Quran. As per survey the Quran is not only most read book of the Islamic world, but it also the most recited book of all time. The Third most read book is Quotation from the works of Mao Tse –tung.

What is the most sold book 2021? ›

2021 was a pretty good year for author Dav Pilkey. Not only is his children's book "Dog Man: Mothering Heights" USA TODAY's bestselling book of the year, but he also followed up the achievement with four more of his books landing in the Top 100 for 2021, more than any other author.

What books should I read in 2022? ›

The Best Books of 2022 So Far
  • The Naked Don't Fear the Water, Matthieu Aikins.
  • In Love, Amy Bloom.
  • The School for Good Mothers, Jessamine Chan.
  • The Candy House, Jennifer Egan.
  • Olga Dies Dreaming, Xochitl Gonzalez.
  • Fiona and Jane, Jean Chen Ho.
  • Constructing A Nervous System, Margo Jefferson.
  • Vladimir, Julia May Jonas.
Jun 2, 2022

What are the top 25 books you should read? ›

Classic Novels to Read
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell. ...
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. ...
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. ...
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. ...
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. ...
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. ...
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. ...
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Oct 29, 2020

Which country has the best writers? ›

The rankings
RankCountry or StateAuthor Shares
1United Kingdom3798.16
2Massachusetts (United States)863.07
3California (United States)1139.54
4Germany3502.21
106 more rows

What is the best thriller ever written? ›

Eight of The Greatest Psychological Thriller and Suspense Books of All Time
  • Strangers on a Train. Patricia Highsmith; Paula Hawkins (Introduction by) ...
  • Gone Girl. Gillian Flynn. ...
  • The Silence of the Lambs. Thomas Harris. ...
  • Misery. Stephen King. ...
  • Talented Mr Ripley. Patricia Highsmith. ...
  • Your House Will Pay. ...
  • Shutter Island. ...
  • Rebecca.

What is the most sold book besides the Bible? ›

The Guinness Book of World Records estimates that more than 5 billion copies of the Bible have been printed. Other religious texts are also high on the list: the Quran with 800 million copies, the Book of Mormon with 120 million.

Who is the #1 best-selling author? ›

James Patterson is the world's highest-paid author by a wide margin, and has been the world's best-selling author since 2001. He has sold more than 350 million books worldwide, and is most famous for the "Alex Cross" crime novel series.

What is a best seller book? ›

A bestseller is a book or other media noted for its top selling status, with bestseller lists published by newspapers, magazines, and book store chains. Some lists are broken down into classifications and specialties (novel, nonfiction book, cookbook, etc.).

What is a happy book to read? ›

29 Books That Make You Happy Long After The Last Page
  • Eleanore Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.
  • Beartown: A Novel by Fredrik Backman.
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. ...
  • Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. ...
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. ...
  • No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal. ...
  • The Wangs Vs.
Dec 7, 2018

What is the most read book in the United States? ›

The top 10 in order of votes:
  • “ To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
  • “ Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon (series)
  • “ Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling (series)
  • “ Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.
  • “ The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien (series)
  • “ Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell.
  • “ ...
Oct 24, 2018

What are the current top 10 fiction books? ›

FICTION
  • The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. ...
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. ...
  • Horse by Geraldine Brooks. ...
  • The Best Is yet to Come by Debbie Macomber. ...
  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. ...
  • The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager. ...
  • Escape by James Patterson; David Ellis. ...
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
Jul 21, 2022

What are the top 5 most popular books? ›

25 Best-Selling Books of All-Time
  • #1 – Don Quixote (500 million copies sold) ...
  • #2 – A Tale of Two Cities (200 million copies sold) ...
  • #3 – The Lord of the Rings (150 million copies sold) ...
  • #4 – The Little Prince (142 million copies sold) ...
  • #5 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (107 million copies sold)

Who is best writer in the world? ›

Top 10 Authors by Number of Books Selected
  • William Shakespeare – 11.
  • William Faulkner – 6.
  • Henry James – 6.
  • Jane Austen – 5.
  • Charles Dickens – 5.
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky – 5.
  • Ernest Hemingway – 5.
  • Franz Kafka – 5.
Jan 30, 2012

What is the most common favorite book? ›

With nearly 8 million ratings, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is the most popular book of all time on Goodreads and has sold over 120 million copies.

How do you find a book in a vague description? ›

Below, we've listed the five steps you can take to find a book from a vague description.
...
One day, you may even move on from your great white whale .
  1. Gather the details. via GIPHY. ...
  2. Google it. via GIPHY. ...
  3. Google Books it. via GIPHY. ...
  4. Ask Reddit. via GIPHY. ...
  5. Ask a librarian.
Nov 8, 2019

How do you find a book if you only know the plot? ›

8 Great Sites to Do a Book Search by Plot or Subject
  1. Google Books. Google Books works the way Google's primary search engine operates. ...
  2. GoodReads: What's the Name of That Book? ...
  3. TripFiction. ...
  4. WhichBook. ...
  5. BookBrowse. ...
  6. LibraryThing Book Suggester. ...
  7. FictionDB. ...
  8. Book Cave.

How do you find a book if you only remember the cover? ›

For when you can only vaguely remember what the cover looks like, try Big Book Search. If you can include a keyword from the title, you'll be more likely to find what you're looking for. However, if you really can only remember images on the cover, you still might have luck.

How do I find my lost book? ›

If you're not sure, ask the librarian.
  1. Around the house: 1. In the car (also check under the seats). Under the baby's car seat. ...
  2. Around town: 1. At the doctor's or dentist's office. At the local public library. ...
  3. At school: 1. On the school bus; at the bus stop. On the classroom or teacher's bookshelf.

How do you find a book you vaguely remember? ›

4 Ways to Find a Book from a Vague Description
  1. Google it. Many book lovers may be familiar with Google Books. ...
  2. Turn to the expertise of strangers through social media. ...
  3. Search on BookBub's website. ...
  4. When in doubt, ask your librarian.
Mar 5, 2019

What is my book cave? ›

If you're looking for free books to read, Book Cave has you covered! We offer daily free ebooks that you can get directly from your favorite retailers—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, and more! Ready to join tens of thousands of happy readers?

How do you bind a book? ›

How to Bind a Book - YouTube

How do I find new books to read? ›

17 Ways To Find Good Books To Read
  1. Head for Nobel Prize Winners.
  2. Avoid Best Sellers.
  3. Penguin Classics.
  4. Head to Bookstores.
  5. Talk to Staff.
  6. Ask Friends and Family.
  7. Study Literature.
  8. Write Your Own.
Dec 2, 2019

How do you find books on Wattpad that you didn't save? ›

Try searching for the story with related tags. Remember that tags should have a # in front of them when searched. If you are still unable to find the story, try contacting the author to see if the story has been removed. You can also try searching for the story through a search engine such as Google.

Over the years of her early childhood, Lia’s chart grew to more than 400,000 words, Fadiman tells us: “Every one of those words reflected its author’s intelligence, training, and good intentions, but not a single one dealt with the Lees’ perception of their daughter’s illness.” What’s telling in this account of Lia’s tragedy, however, is not the medical missteps it details, or the animal sacrifices conducted in parking lots by the Lees and their Hmong community to assuage the effects of unseen but imminent spirits, but rather the dedication of doctors even when the tools at their command prove therapeutically ineffective as well as humanly futile, and the unshakeable love and bewildered but unrelenting endurance of the Lee family.. The fatalism in which their lives are steeped, the sense that life is a collusion of blunt, featureless forces, is captured in scene after scene, but never more tellingly than in a single sentence describing the demise of a neighbor’s husband: “One night he came out of the house as usual and died, perhaps murdered, perhaps of weariness.” Indeed, the fatalistic privation—intellectual as well as economic—of the neighborhood’s constant and constricted present is what Lenù desires to escape, although even she is conflicted about the costs, and what Lila, at the end of MyBrilliant will marry into—and marry well, as far as such surrender goes, for the time being.. One of the first great comic novels in English, and still one of the most entertaining in any language, TomJones is a gloriously robust and bawdy adventure boasting what Samuel Taylor Coleridge called “one of the most perfect plots ever planned.” Its author had begun his literary career by parodying the most popular novel of his day, the sanctimonious Pamela:OrVirtue in two works, JosephAndrews and Shamela (the title says it all).. Forster’s masterful absorption of the colors, tones, and shadows of life and language provides an almost symphonic literary score that lifts the details of his characters and their actions into some new dimension that sets this book apart—in manner, mood, and mystery —from any other you have ever read.. Although often referred to as “The Diary of Anne Frank” (the title used by the stage and screen adaptations), the book’s correct title, TheDiaryofaYoung suggests one of the reasons for the book’s extraordinary effect on generations of readers: In the midst of terrifying circumstances, the author’s words are always alive with a recognizable teenager’s awkward mix of independence and vulnerability, silliness and soulfulness, honesty and wishful thinking, resentment and rebellion, guilt and responsibility.. On the one hand, Sybylla’s awkward, urgent energy as she battles the impoverishments of the Australian bush in her quest to discover a brilliant literary career are worlds away from Jane Eyre’s quiet determination as she crosses the borders of class and service; on the other, “Reader, I didn’t marry him,” might well serve as epigraph for Franklin’s book, so perfectly does it encapsulate the author’s overturning of the audience’s expectations—to say nothing of the hopes of Sybylla’s worthy but hapless suitor, Harold Beecham.. That the writer’s mind is fertile and original is evidenced by the shelf of volumes that bear his name (and the shelf of awards that accompany them), from the comic intricacies of his theatrical farce NoisesOff to the scientific and moral quandaries of his Tony Award–winning play about the nuclear physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg; from his marvelous translations of five Chekhov plays to his sinuously plotted psychological novel of the home front during World War II, And yet, in this straightforward chronicle of his father’s unremarkable days, he discovers a truth best expressed by the literary critic Hugh Kenner: “What you’re taking for granted is always more important than whatever you have your mind fixed on.”

Everything You Need to Know About Craft, Inspiration, Agents, Editors, Publishing, and the Business of Building a Sustainable Writing Career. DOWNLOAD NOW » The definitive source of information, insight, and advice for creative writers, from the nation’s largest and most trusted organization for writers, Poets & Writers.. For half a century, writers at every stage of their careers have turned to the literary nonprofit organization Poets & Writers and its award-winning magazine for resources to foster their professional development, from writing prompts and tips on technique to informative interviews with published authors, literary agents, and editors.. Here is the writing bible for authors of all genres and forms, covering topics such as how to: -Harness your imagination and jump-start your creativity -Develop your work from initial idea to final draft -Find a supportive and inspiring writing community to sustain your career -Find the best MFA program for you -Publish your work in literary magazines and develop a platform -Research writing contests and other opportunities to support your writing life -Decide between traditional publishing and self-publishing -Find the right literary agent -Anticipate what agents look for in queries and proposals -Work successfully with an editor and your publishing team -Market yourself and your work in a digital world -Approach financial planning and taxes as a writer -And much more Written by Kevin Larimer and Mary Gannon, the two most recent editors of Poets & Writers Magazine, this book brings an unrivaled understanding of the areas in which writers seek guidance and support.. Publisher: Page Publishing Inc. Category: Literary Criticism. DOWNLOAD NOW » A Book about Books discusses what nonfiction books and subjects the author believes are important to know about.. The subtitle of the book describes the author’s objective: “A handbook in 3 parts to a choice of essential books, writers and subjects in order to understand the world we live in, about ‘big questions’ and possible answers, about books and writers that may improve people’s lives, about neglected writers, and other books and subjects.” A Book about Books attempts to share what the author has learned from nearly 50 years of nonfiction reading and to provide the reader with samples of the most important authors and subjects from that reading.. This book tries to point to problems in how we live and to see if books have any answers.. DOWNLOAD NOW » This book is not about teaching you how to become a millionaire.. I am not against people who do jobs but, in this book, you will find the obvious advantages of beginning a small business over doing a well-paid job.. DOWNLOAD NOW » With over 100 chapters, Real Life, Real Choices is a power-packed young adult life reference book created to empower and give today's youth the necessary knowledge to begin adulthood with a good foundation.. Grant your loved one the opportunity to make educated choices... give them Real Life, Real Choices.

“The ultimate literary bucket list.” — The Washington Post “If there’s a heaven just for readers, this is it.” — O, The Oprah Magazine Celebrate the pleasure of reading and the thrill of discovering new titles in an extraordinary book that’s as compulsively readable, entertaining, surprising, and enlightening as the 1,000-plus titles it recommends.. Add it all up, and in fact there are more than six thousand titles by nearly four thousand authors mentioned—a life-changing list for a lifetime of reading.. “948 pages later, you still want more!” —THE WASHINGTON POST. "Mustich's informed appraisals will drive readers to the books they've yet to read, and stimulate discussion of those they have.". — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review ?. "A treasure chest for book lovers everywhere" — Library Journal, Starred Review ?. Never again will you have to wonder what to read next.. —Nancy Bass Wyden, Proprietor, Strand Book Store "Chief among the thousands of pleasures here is the delightfully erudite company of James Mustich.. Read!". The book is not a list of canonical works, though many classics are listed and lovingly described.

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