The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Dorian Gray is an innocent young man who has his portrait painted by a close friend. Soon after he falls under the influence of amoral Lord Henry Wotton. Dorian soon jilts his fiancee, which leads to her suicide. This is the start of a life of increasing debauchery. Dorian realizes that the outward signs of this are apparent only in the portrait. Eventually the picture, secreted in his childhood playroom, becomes almost hideous to behold. But Dorian still has one pure love -- Gladys, the niece of the original painter.
Black No More by George S. Schuyler
What would happen to the race problem in America if black people turned white? Would everybody be happy? These questions and more are answered hilariously in Black No More, George S. Schuyler's satiric romp. Black No More is the story of Max Disher, a dapper black rogue of an insurance man who, through a scientific transformation process, becomes Matthew Fisher, a white man. Matt dreams up a scam that allows him to become the leader of the Knights of Nordica, a white supremacist group, as well as to marry the white woman who rejected him when he was black. Black No More is a hysterical exploration of race and all its self-serving definitions.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart is the first of three novels in Chinua Achebe's critically acclaimed African Trilogy. It is a classic narrative about Africa's cataclysmic encounter with Europe as it establishes a colonial presence on the continent. Told through the fictional experiences of Okonkwo, a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior of Umuofia in the late 1800s, Things Fall Apart explores one man's futile resistance to the devaluing of his Igbo traditions by British political andreligious forces and his despair as his community capitulates to the powerful new order.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
As he travels across 1950s America, aspiring writer Sal Paradise chronicles his escapades with the charismatic Dean Moriarty. Sal admires Dean's passion for experiencing as much as possible of life and his wild flights of poetic fancy. On the Road memorializes the author's real-life adventures with Neal Cassady and epitomizes what comes to be known as "the Beat generation."
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The beautiful, much-desired Lily Bart has been raised to be one of the perfect wives of the wealthy upper class, but her spark of character and independent drive prevents her from becoming one of the many women who will succeed in those circles. Though her desire for a comfortable life means that she cannot marry for love without money, her resistance to the rules of the social elite endangers her many marriage proposals. As Lily spirals down into debt and dishonor, her story takes on the resonance of classic tragedy.
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman’s daughter and a mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England. She is one of those “excellent women,” the smart, supportive, repressed women who men take for granted. As Mildred gets embroiled in the lives of her new neighbors—anthropologist Helena Napier and her handsome, dashing husband, Rocky, and Julian Malory, the vicar next door—the novel presents a series of snapshots of human life as actually, and pluckily, lived in a vanishing world of manners and repressed desires