What to Read While on the Road: The Classics

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Judah Ben-Hur lives as a rich Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. His old friend Messala arrives as commanding officer of the Roman legions. They become bitter enemies. Because of an unfortunate accident, Ben-Hur is sent to slave in the mines while his family is sent to leprosy caves. As Messala is dying from being crushed in a chariot race, he reveals where Ben-Hur's family is. On the road to find them, Ben-Hur meets the Christ as he is on the road to Golgotha to be crucified. That day changes Ben-Hur's life forever, for that is the day he becomes a believer.

The rich Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem…

Tolstoy's 'flawless work of art.' Anna Karenina is a married aristocrat and socialite. Her affair with the affluent Count Vronsky is central to the plot. The story starts when she arrives in the midst of a family broken up by her brother's unbridled womanizing—something that prefigures her own later situation, though with less tolerance for her by others.

Tolstoy’s ‘flawless work of art’ about a married aristocrat and socialite…

Arabian Sands is Wilfred Thesiger's record of his extraordinary journey through the parched "Empty Quarter" of Arabia. Educated at Eton and Oxford, Thesiger was repulsed by the softness and rigidity of Western life-"the machines, the calling cards, the meticulously aligned streets." In the spirit of T. E. Lawrence, he set out to explore the deserts of Arabia, traveling among peoples who had never seen a European and considered it their duty to kill Christian infidels. His now-classic account is invaluable to understanding the modern Middle East.

Wilfred Thesiger’s extraordinary journey through the parched “Empty Quarter” of Arabia…

The story of the five Bennet sisters. It is a story that on first reading is full of suspense, surprise and, ultimately, satisfaction, and which on re-reading commands, in addition, admiration for the author's supreme skill in managing a deceptively complex plot to its triumphant conclusion.

The story of the five Bennet sisters…

The masterpieces of modern European literature and the first German novel to adopt the technique of James Joyce. It tells the story of Franz Biberkopf, who, on being released from prison, is confronted with the poverty, unemployment, crime and burgeoning Nazism of 1920s Germany. As Franz struggles to survive in this world, fate teases him with a little pleasure before cruelly turning on him.

The story of Franz Biberkopf, released from prison to face poverty, unemployment, crime and burgeoning Nazism of 1920s…

The only version available in trade paperback that presents the fairy tales exactly as Andersen collected them in the original Danish edition in 1874. His notes accompany the text.

The fairy tales exactly as Andersen collected them in the original Danish edition…

The ambitions and whims of the young Frédéric Moreau as he travels from his provincial hometown to the enticing metropolis of Paris. Though he survived the Revolution of 1848, Moreau is still prone to all the mistakes and petty concerns of a young man of the middle class: he develops an infatuation for a married woman, Madame Arnoux, and falls in and out of love with her throughout the novel; his ambitious endeavors soon bore him and leave him with Parisian ennui; and, despite the founding of the Second French Empire, Moreau is disappointed by the lack of social progress around him.

The ambitions and whims of Frédéric Moreau and his travels from his provincial hometown to Paris…

The poem's imaginative and allegorical vision of the Christian afterlife is a culmination of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church. It helped establish the Tuscan dialect in which it is written as the Italian standard.

The imaginative and allegorical vision of the Christian afterlife…

Humbled, orphaned Pip is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman — and one day he finds himself in possession of "great expectations." One of Dickens' finest novels, this is a gripping tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward.

Humbled, orphaned Pip is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman…

This involved, philosophical novel is not for the casual listener, especially one who is supposed to be concentrating on the road ahead. Writing in 1904, Conrad invented a complex South American country with a turbulent history and a potentially explosive population, ranging from the wealthy gringo running the Sulaco silver mine to the poorest worker loading cargo on the docks. Although the story teems with lively characters, the dazzling figure of Nostromo eclipses them all.

A wealthy gringo running the Sulaco silver mine to the poorest worker loading cargo on the docks…

The Canterbury Tales is the collection of short stories by Geoffrey Chaucer now brought to you in this new edition of the timeless classic.

A collection of short stories by Geoffrey Chaucer…

Edith Grossman's definitive English translation of the Spanish masterpiece. Widely regarded as one of the funniest and most tragic books ever written, Don Quixote chronicles the adventures of the self-created knight-errant Don Quixote of La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain. You haven't experienced Don Quixote in English until you've read this masterful translation.

The adventures of the self-created knight-errant Don Quixote of La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain…

The dark side of On the Road: instead of seeking kicks, the French narrator travels the globe to find an ever deeper disgust for life. Louis-Ferdinand Celine's revulsion and anger at what he considered the idiocy and hypocrisy of society explodes from nearly every page of this novel. Filled with slang and obscenities and written in raw, colloquial language, Journey to the End of the Night is a literary symphony of violence, cruelty and obscene nihilism. This book shocked most critics when it was first published in France in 1932, but quickly became a success with the reading public in Europe, and later in America where it was first published by New Directions in 1952. The story of the improbable yet convincingly described travels of the petit-bourgeois (and largely autobiographical) antihero, Bardamu, from the trenches of World War I, to the African jungle, to New York and Detroit, and finally to life as a failed doctor in Paris, takes the readers by the scruff and hurtles them toward the novel's inevitable, sad conclusion.

The dark side of On the Road: instead of seeking kicks, the French narrator travels the globe to find an ever deeper disgust for life.

Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd."

Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach…

The story of four generations of a wealthy bourgeois family in northern Germany facing the advent of modernity; in an uncertain new world, the family’s bonds and traditions begin to disintegrate. As Mann charts the Buddenbrooks’ decline from prosperity to bankruptcy, from moral and psychic soundness to sickly piety, artistic decadence, and madness, he ushers the reader into a world of stunning vitality, pieced together from births and funerals, weddings and divorces, recipes, gossip, and earthy humor.

The story of four generations of a wealthy bourgeois family in northern Germany facing the advent of modernity…

One of the world's greatest tales of love among the landscape of the Yorkshire moors...

One of the world’s greatest tales of love among the landscape of the Yorkshire moors…

The first volume in Nobel Prize winner Andric's Bosnian trilogy, debuted in 1963. LJ 's reviewer heaped upon it high praise, finding it "rich with humanity and the humor that comes with wisdom" ( LJ 11/1/63). The plot explores the lives of the inhabitants of the city of Travnik in the early years of the 19th century. With Bosnia much in the news these days, this remains "an essential addition for all fiction collections."

The lives of the inhabitants of the city of Travnik in the early years of the 19th century…

From his 1935 debut with The Universal History of Iniquity through his immensely influential collections Ficciones and The Aleph, the enigmatic prose poems of The Maker, up to his final work in the 1980s, Shakespeare’s Memory, these enigmatic, elaborate, imaginative inventions display Borges’s talent for turning fiction on its head by playing with form and genre and toying with language.

The Aleph, the enigmatic prose poems of The Maker, up to his final work in the 1980s…

In the early summer of the year 1348, as a terrible plague ravages the city, ten charming young Florentines take refuge in country villas to tell each other stories—a hundred stories of love, adventure and surprising twists of fortune which later inspired Chaucer, Keats and Shakespeare. While Dante is a stern moralist, Boccaccio has little time for chastity, pokes fun at crafty, hypocritical clerics and celebrates the power of passion to overcome obstacles and social divisions.

Ten charming young Florentines take refuge in country villas as a terrible plague ravages the city in 1348…

Jack and Annie are off on another Merlin Mission. This time, Merlin has sent them to rescue a beautiful magical creature—the unicorn. But when they land in New York City during the Depression of the 1930s, Jack and Annie are confused. Where will they find a unicorn in a big city?

When they land in New York City during the Depression of the 1930s, Jack and Annie start their search and rescue of a beautiful magical creature – the unicorn…

The characters are brought to life by interactive dialogue that may have taken place given what history teaches us. Read about the life of America's most haunting and mysterious author today and see Edgar Allan Poe brought to life like never before! “To give us a historical fiction look at Edgar Allan Poe is great.

An historical fiction by Edgar Allan Poe, America’s most haunting and mysterious author…

This fine example of the French realist novel contrasts the social progress of an impoverished but ambitious aristocrat with the tale of a father, whose obsessive love for his daughters leads to his personal and financial ruin.

The ambitious aristocrat, a tale of a father – whose obsessive love for his daughters leads to his personal and financial ruin…

As boys, George, the son of a Midlands vicar, and Arthur, living in shabby genteel Edinburgh, find themselves in a vast and complex world at the heart of the British Empire. Years later—one struggling with his identity in a world hostile to his ancestry, the other creating the world’s most famous detective while in love with a woman who is not his wife–their fates become inextricably connected.

As boys, George, the son of a Midlands vicar, and Arthur, living in shabby genteel Edinburgh, find themselves in a vast and complex world at the heart of the British Empire…

We meet the charming and innocent ladies who populate their cellar with the remains of socially and religiously "acceptable" roomers; the antics of their brother who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt; and the activities of the other brother - these require no further description or amplification here. "Arsenic and Old Lace" is a must for all, a ready-made comedy hit.

The charming and innocent ladies who populate their cellar with the remains of socially and religiously “acceptable” roomers…

Narration of Nigerian novelist Achebe's 1959 masterpiece. In direct, almost fable-like prose, it depicts the rise and fall of Okonkwo, a Nigerian whose sense of manliness is more akin to that of his warrior ancestors than to that of his fellow clansmen who have converted to Christianity and are appeasing the British administrators who infiltrate their village.

The rise and fall of Okonkwo, a Nigerian whose sense of manliness is more akin to that of his warrior ancestors than to that of his fellow clansmen who have converted to Christianity…

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