Stoner by John Williams
William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. A seminar on English literature changes his life, and he never returns to work on his father's farm. Stoner becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely.
Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.
How To Be A Heroine by Samantha Ellis
On a pilgrimage to Wuthering Heights, Samantha Ellis found herself arguing with her best friend about which heroine was best: Jane Eyre or Cathy Earnshaw. She was all for wild, passionate Cathy; but her friend found Cathy silly, a snob, while courageous Jane makes her own way.
And that’s when Samantha realised that all her life she’d been trying to be Cathy when she should have been trying to be Jane.
So she decided to look again at her heroines – the girls, women, books that had shaped her ideas of the world and how to live. Some of them stood up to the scrutiny (she will always love Lizzy Bennet); some of them most decidedly did not (turns out Katy Carr from What Katy Did isn’t a carefree rebel, she’s a drip). There were revelations (the real heroine of Gone with the Wind? It's Melanie), joyous reunions (Anne of Green Gables), poignant memories (Sylvia Plath) and tearful goodbyes (Lucy Honeychurch). And then there was Jilly Cooper...
How To Be A Heroine is Samantha’s funny, touching, inspiring exploration of the role of heroines, and our favourite books, in all our lives – and how they change over time, for better or worse, just as we do.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Late one night, the residents of Styles wake to find Emily Inglethorp dying of what proves to be strychnine poisoning. Hastings, a houseguest, enlists the help of his friend Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the nearby village, Styles St Mary. Poirot pieces together events surrounding the murder. On the day she was killed, Mrs Inglethorp was overheard arguing with someone, most likely either her husband, Alfred, or her stepson, John. Afterwards, she seemed quite distressed and, apparently, made a new will - which no one can find. She ate little at dinner and retired early to her room with her document case. The case was later forced open by someone and a document removed. Alfred Inglethorp left Styles earlier in the evening and stayed overnight in the nearby village, so was not present when the poisoning occurred. No one knows exactly when or how the strychnine was administered to Mrs Inglethorp.
The Dead by James Joyce
The Dead is one of the twentieth century’s most beautiful pieces of short literature. Taking his inspiration from a family gathering held every year on the Feast of the Epiphany, Joyce pens a story about a married couple attending a Christmas-season party at the house of the husband’s two elderly aunts. A shocking confession made by the husband’s wife toward the end of the story showcases the power of Joyce’s greatest innovation: the epiphany, that moment when everything, for character and reader alike, is suddenly clear.