All Quiet on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque
Considered by many the greatest war novel of all time, "All Quiet on the Western Front" is Erich Maria Remarque's masterpiece of the German experience during World War I. It is the testament of Paul Bäumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army during World War I. They become soldiers with youthful enthusiasm. But the world of duty, culture and progress they had been taught breaks in pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. Through years of vivid horror, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principle of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against one another . . . if only he can come out of the war alive.
by Leo Tolstoy
Married to a government minister, Anna Karenina falls deeply in love with the elegant Count Vronsky. Anna defies the conventions of Russian society, deciding to live with Vronsky. Condemned and ostracized by her peers, Anna finds herself unable to escape an increasingly hopeless situation.
Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Raskolnikov, a nihilistic young man in the midst of a spiritual crisis, makes the fateful decision to murder a cruel pawnbroker, justifying his actions by relying on science and reason, and creating his own morality system. The aftermath of his crime and Petrovich's murder investigation result in an utterly compelling, truly unforgettable cat-and-mouse game.
by Miguel de Cervantes
Widely regarded as the world's first modern novel, and one of the funniest and most tragic books ever written, Don Quixote chronicles the famous picaresque adventures of the noble knight-errant Don Quixote of La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through 16th-century Spain.
by Victor Hugo
Hugo sweeps readers from the French provinces to the back alleys of Paris, and from the battlefield of Waterloo to the bloody ramparts of Paris during the uprising of 1832. First published in 1862, this sprawling novel is an extravagant historical epic that is teeming with harrowing adventures and unforgettable characters. In the protagonist, Jean Valjean, a quintessential prisoner of conscience who languished for years in prison for stealing bread to feed his starving family, "Les Misérables" depicts one of the grand themes in literature -- that of the hunted man.
by Vladimir Nabokov
Awe and exhilaration -- along with heartbreak and mordant wit -- abound in this account of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. "Lolita" is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America, but most of all, it is a meditation on love -- love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.
by Gustave Flaubert
Emma Bovary is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent reader of sentimental novels, she longs for passion and seeks escape in fantasies of high romance, in voracious spending and, eventually, in adultery. But even her affairs bring her disappointment and the consequences are devastating.
One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The rise and fall, birth and death, of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.
The Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
"The Brothers Karamazov," Dostoevsky's last and greatest novel, published just before his death in 1881, chronicles the bitter love-hate struggle between the outsized Fyodor Karamazov and his three very different sons. It is above all the story of a murder, told with hair-raising intellectual clarity and a feeling for the human condition unsurpassed in world literature.
The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas' epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialised in the 1840s.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
by Victor Hugo
Set in medieval Paris, Victor Hugo's powerful historical romance "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" tells the story of the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda, condemned as a witch by the tormented archdeacon Claude Frollo, who lusts after her. Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, having fallen in love with the kindhearted Esmeralda, tries to save her by hiding her in the cathedral's tower. When a crowd of Parisian peasants, misunderstanding Quasimodo's motives, attacks the church in an attempt to liberate her, the story ends in tragedy.
by Albert Camus
Albert Camus's spare, laconic masterpiece about a Frenchman who murders an Arab in Algeria is famous for having diagnosed, with a clarity almost scientific, that condition of reckless alienation and spiritual exhaustion that characterized so much of 20th-century life. Possessing both the force of a parable and the excitement of a perfectly executed thriller, "The Stranger" is the work of one of the most engaged and intellectually alert writers of the past century.
Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
"Things Fall Apart" tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a "strong man" of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo's fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.
War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
Set against the sweeping panoply of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, "War and Peace" is often considered the greatest novel ever written. At its center are Pierre Bezukhov, searching for meaning in his life; cynical Prince Andrei, ennobled by wartime suffering; and Natasha Rostov, whose impulsiveness threatens to destroy her happiness. As Tolstoy follows the changing fortunes of his characters, he crafts a view of humanity that is both epic and intimate and that continues to define fiction at its most resplendent.