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So Long, See You Tomorrow

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About
The Book
In this magically evocative novel, William Maxwell explores the enigmatic gravity of the past, which compels us to keep explaining it even as it makes liars out of us every time we try. On a winter morning in the 1920s, a shot rings out on a farm in rural Illinois. A man named Lloyd Wilson has been killed. And the tenuous friendship between two lonely teenagers—one privileged yet neglected, the other a troubled farm boy—has been shattered. Fifty years later, one of those boys—now a grown man—tries to reconstruct the events that led up to the murder. Out of memory and imagination, the surmises of children and the destructive passions of their parents, Maxwell creates a luminous American classic of youth and loss.

So Long, See You Tomorrow

by William Maxwell
About
The Book
In this magically evocative novel, William Maxwell explores the enigmatic gravity of the past, which compels us to keep explaining it even as it makes liars out of us every time we try. On a winter morning in the 1920s, a shot rings out on a farm in rural Illinois. A man named Lloyd Wilson has been killed. And the tenuous friendship between two lonely teenagers—one privileged yet neglected, the other a troubled farm boy—has been shattered. Fifty years later, one of those boys—now a grown man—tries to reconstruct the events that led up to the murder. Out of memory and imagination, the surmises of children and the destructive passions of their parents, Maxwell creates a luminous American classic of youth and loss.
Recommended by
What Ann Patchett says

Maxwell’s masterpiece, which weighs in at a mere 144 pages, contains as much life, range, and depth of emotion as its 1,000-page counterparts. It made me think that what is left unsaid can be as powerful as the words on the page.

The Bug

by
About
The Book
Ellen Ullman is a "rarity, a computer programmer with a poet’s feeling for language" (Laura Miller, Salon). The Bug breaks new ground in literary fiction, offering us a deep look into the internal lives of people in the technical world. Set in a start-up company in 1984, this highly acclaimed first novel explores what happens when a baffling software flaw—a bug so teasing it is named "the Jester"—threatens the survival of the humans beings who created it.

The Bug

by Ellen Ullman
About
The Book
Ellen Ullman is a "rarity, a computer programmer with a poet’s feeling for language" (Laura Miller, Salon). The Bug breaks new ground in literary fiction, offering us a deep look into the internal lives of people in the technical world. Set in a start-up company in 1984, this highly acclaimed first novel explores what happens when a baffling software flaw—a bug so teasing it is named "the Jester"—threatens the survival of the humans beings who created it.
Recommended by
What Vikram Chandra says

A beautifully written novel about a programmer’s attempt to find, fix and vanquish a computer bug or error so elusive that it is given a name: “the Jester”. The protagonist’s quest after this ever-vanishing and reappearing “Heisenbug” becomes a poignant meditation on technology’s effects on humans.

Thirteen

by
About
The Book
Thirteen, released as Black Man in UK, is near-future science fiction, very much in the vein of Bladerunner. A failed government program to produce a more violent, aggressive form of military fighter has resulted in the U.S. rounding up most of the test subjects and isolating them on Mars, a place where no one with any sense would wish to spend their days. But not all of the government subjects have been caught and shipped out to Mars. Enter Carl Marsalis, a hit man who would like nothing more than to stop killing and put his past behind him-and when he's eventually captured in Miami, it seems like the government might take care of his problems for him. Unfortunately, around the same time a transport from Mars arrives back on earth. The entire crew has been killed by a stowaway who turns out to be one of these violent superhumans-and maybe something worse. Now Marsalis is given a choice: use his heightened powers to hunt down the killer, or face a fate worse than death.

Thirteen

by Richard Morgan
About
The Book
Thirteen, released as Black Man in UK, is near-future science fiction, very much in the vein of Bladerunner. A failed government program to produce a more violent, aggressive form of military fighter has resulted in the U.S. rounding up most of the test subjects and isolating them on Mars, a place where no one with any sense would wish to spend their days. But not all of the government subjects have been caught and shipped out to Mars. Enter Carl Marsalis, a hit man who would like nothing more than to stop killing and put his past behind him-and when he's eventually captured in Miami, it seems like the government might take care of his problems for him. Unfortunately, around the same time a transport from Mars arrives back on earth. The entire crew has been killed by a stowaway who turns out to be one of these violent superhumans-and maybe something worse. Now Marsalis is given a choice: use his heightened powers to hunt down the killer, or face a fate worse than death.
Recommended by
What Marc Andreessen says

Undoubtedly Morgan’s best-written novel so far, Thirteen is a near-future story of genetic engineering gone badly wrong — a future version of all those classic paranoid political thrillers of the 70’s but with a much harder edge. Highly recommended. Also very helpful re advising on things to think about before booking your next trip back from Mars.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

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About
The Book
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. Usually classed among the best examples of the novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story of the sufferings and death of a high-court judge from a terminal illness in 19th-century Russia.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

by Leo Tolstoy
About
The Book
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. Usually classed among the best examples of the novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story of the sufferings and death of a high-court judge from a terminal illness in 19th-century Russia.
Recommended by
What Atul Gawande says

A book I would recommend to an aspiring doctor. It is the best portrayal of sickness and suffering I have ever read — minutely observed, difficult and still true a century and a quarter later.

Chimpanzee Politics

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About
The Book
Acclaimed not only by primatologists for its scientific achievement but also by politicians, business leaders, and social psychologists for its remarkable insights into the most basic human needs and behaviors, this book is considered a classic. De Waal dwells into a detailed and thoroughly engrossing account of rivalries and coalitions-actions governed by intelligence rather than instinct. As we watch the chimpanzees behave in ways we recognize from Machiavelli (and from the nightly news), de Waal reminds us again that the roots of politics are older than humanity.

Chimpanzee Politics

by Frans de Waal
About
The Book
Acclaimed not only by primatologists for its scientific achievement but also by politicians, business leaders, and social psychologists for its remarkable insights into the most basic human needs and behaviors, this book is considered a classic. De Waal dwells into a detailed and thoroughly engrossing account of rivalries and coalitions-actions governed by intelligence rather than instinct. As we watch the chimpanzees behave in ways we recognize from Machiavelli (and from the nightly news), de Waal reminds us again that the roots of politics are older than humanity.
Recommended by
What Jim Collins says

Even more enlightening than Machiavelli’s The Prince, this book describes power takeovers and social organizations in a chimpanzee colony and argues that power politics is part of the evolutionary heritage that we share with our closest nonhuman relatives. I’ll never look at academic or corporate politics the same way, and I understand their machinations much better for having read this book. Chimps, unlike humans, do not cloak their political pretenses in rhetoric, so we can see more clearly the process at work and thereby learn much about ourselves.

The City & the City

by
About
The Book
When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

The City & the City

by China Miéville
About
The Book
When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.
Recommended by
What Neal Stephenson says

A profoundly strange novel from one of the best — equally compelling to readers of speculative and mainstream fiction. This one still resonates with me, years after I read it.

The Silk Roads

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About
The Book
This epic, magisterial work illuminates how the Silk Roads -the crossroads of the world, the meeting place of East and West -perhaps more than anything else, shaped global history over the past two millennia. It was on the Silk Roads that East and West first encountered each other through trade and conquest, leading to the spread of ideas, cultures, and religions, and it was the appetites for foreign goods that drove economies and the growth of nations. Peter Frankopan realigns the world, orienting us eastward, and illuminating how even the rise of the West five hundred years ago resulted from its efforts to gain access to and control of these Eurasian trading networks. In an increasingly globalized planet, where current events in Asia and the Middle East dominate the world's attention, this magnificent work of history is very much a work of our times.

The Silk Roads

by Peter Frankopan
About
The Book
This epic, magisterial work illuminates how the Silk Roads -the crossroads of the world, the meeting place of East and West -perhaps more than anything else, shaped global history over the past two millennia. It was on the Silk Roads that East and West first encountered each other through trade and conquest, leading to the spread of ideas, cultures, and religions, and it was the appetites for foreign goods that drove economies and the growth of nations. Peter Frankopan realigns the world, orienting us eastward, and illuminating how even the rise of the West five hundred years ago resulted from its efforts to gain access to and control of these Eurasian trading networks. In an increasingly globalized planet, where current events in Asia and the Middle East dominate the world's attention, this magnificent work of history is very much a work of our times.
Recommended by
What Dominic Barton says

Frankopan’s history of the Silk Road is a wide-ranging and incisive history of a region that has been and will be incredibly important, economically and culturally, for the world. The ‘re-rise’ of Asia and China’s One Belt, One Road initiative make this an especially timely account.

The Buried Giant

by
About
The Book
The Romans have long since departed and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But, at least, the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased. Axl and Beatrice, a couple of elderly Britons, decide that now is the time, finally, for them to set off across this troubled land of mist and rain to find the son they have not seen for years, the son they can scarcely remember. They know they will face many hazards—some strange and otherworldly—but they cannot foresee how their journey will reveal to them the dark and forgotten corners of their love for each other as well as the burden of the fullness of a life’s memories. Sometimes savage, sometimes mysterious, always intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade tells a luminous story about the act of forgetting and the power of memory, a resonant tale of love, vengeance, and war.

The Buried Giant

by Kazuo Ishiguro
About
The Book
The Romans have long since departed and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But, at least, the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased. Axl and Beatrice, a couple of elderly Britons, decide that now is the time, finally, for them to set off across this troubled land of mist and rain to find the son they have not seen for years, the son they can scarcely remember. They know they will face many hazards—some strange and otherworldly—but they cannot foresee how their journey will reveal to them the dark and forgotten corners of their love for each other as well as the burden of the fullness of a life’s memories. Sometimes savage, sometimes mysterious, always intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade tells a luminous story about the act of forgetting and the power of memory, a resonant tale of love, vengeance, and war.
Recommended by
What Niall Ferguson says

The best new work of fiction I have read this year was Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant. I am more enthralled than I have been by a book in a long time. Profound meditation on memory.