Francine Prose – What to Read and Why

In this brilliant collection, the follow-up to her New York Times best seller Reading Like a Writer, the distinguished novelist, literary critic, and essayist celebrates the pleasures of reading and pays homage to the works and writers she admires above all others, from Jane Austen and Charles Dickens to Jennifer Egan and Roberto Bolao.
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Jack London – White Fang

Jack London’s classic adventure story about the friendship developed between a Yukon gold hunter and the mixed dog-wolf he rescues from the hands of a man who mistreats him. White Fang is a companion novel and thematic mirror to London’s best-known work, The Call of the Wild.
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Henry David Thoreau – Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

An experiment. A declaration. A spiritual awakening. Noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau spent two years, two months, and two days chronicling his near-isolation in a small cabin he built in the woods near Walden Pond, on land owned by his mentor and the father of Transcendentalism, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Immersing himself in nature and solitude, Thoreau sought to develop a greater understanding of society amidst a life of self-reliance and simplicity. Originally published in 1854, Walden remains one of the most celebrated works in American literature. Also includes Walden’s essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”.
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Thomas Paine – The American Crisis

“These are the times that try men’s souls.” With these words, Thomas Paine began a series of 13 extraordinary pamphlets reporting on the American Revolution. Part newsfeed, part op-ed, these pieces were widely circulated in the States and in Britain during the war. They reported on the progress of the war, argued for the reasons for the war, made recommendations on the conduct of the war, and taught citizens of a new country just what their obligations and duties were in support of their new country. A sobering series of lessons on beginning American civics 101.
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John Steinbeck – America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction

More than three decades after his death, John Steinbeck remains one of the nation’s most beloved authors. Yet few know of his career as a journalist who covered world events from the Great Depression to Vietnam. Now, this original collection offers a portrait of the artist as citizen, deeply engaged in the world around him. In addition to the complete text of Steinbeck’s last published book, America and Americans, this volume brings together for the first time more than 50 of Steinbeck’s finest essays and jouralistic pieces.
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John M. Bowers, The Great Courses – The Western Literary Canon in Context

What exactly is the Western literary canon? Why does it contain certain works and not others? And what do particular works in the Western canon tell us about the development of literature and civilization? Explore these and other thought-provoking lectures with a thorough investigation of more than 30 key works of the Western canon and the critical roles they played – and continue to play – in the development of Western literature. Over the course of 36 lectures, you’ll discover the exciting stories behind these classic works and their often surprising connections with one another.
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