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Pico Iyer's Bookcase

Siddharth Pico Raghavan Iyer (Tamil: சித்தார்த் பைக்கோ ராகவன் ஐயர்; born 11 February 1957), known as Pico Iyer, is a British-born essayist and novelist of Indian origin, best known for his travel writing. He is the author of numerous books on crossing cultures including Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk and The Global Soul. An essayist for Time since 1986, he also publishes regularly in Harper's, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and many other publications.

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Based on the Oxford Edition

Upon publication in 1997, The Norton Shakespeare set a new standard for teaching editions of Shakespeare's complete works.

Instructors and students worldwide welcomed the fresh scholarship, lively and accessible introductions, helpful marginal glosses and notes, readable single-column format, all designed in support of the goal of the Oxford text: to bring the modern reader closer than before possible to Shakespeare's plays as they were first acted. Now, under Stephen Greenblatt's direction, the editors have considered afresh each introduction and all of the apparatus to make the Second Edition an even better teaching tool.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

No American masterpiece casts quite as awesome a shadow as Melville's monumental Moby Dick.  Mad Captain Ahab's quest for the White Whale is a timeless epic--a stirring tragedy of vengeance and obsession, a searing parable about humanity lost in a universe of moral ambiguity.  It is the greatest sea story ever told.  Far ahead of its own time, Moby Dick was largely misunderstood and unappreciated by Melville's contemporaries.  Today, however, it is indisputably a classic.  As D.H. Lawrence wrote, Moby Dick "commands a stillness in the soul, an awe . . . [It is] one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world."

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"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

So begins this most beloved of all American Zen books.  Seldom has such a small handful of words provided a teaching as rich as has this famous opening line.  In a single stroke, the simple sentence cuts through the pervasive tendency students have of getting so close to Zen as to completely miss what it's all about.  An instant teaching on the first page.  And that's just the beginning.

In the forty years since its original publication, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind has become one of the great modern spiritual classics, much beloved, much reread, and much recommended as the best first book to read on Zen. Suzuki Roshi presents the basics—from the details of posture and breathing in zazen to the perception of nonduality—in a way that is not only remarkably clear, but that also resonates with the joy of insight from the first to the last page.

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Found via: Favobooks

Nature was a form of religion for naturalist, essayist, and early environmentalist Henry David Thoreau (1817–62). In communing with the natural world, he wished to "live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and … learn what it had to teach." Toward that end Thoreau built a cabin in the spring of 1845 on the shores of Walden Pond — on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson — outside Concord, Massachusetts. There he observed nature, farmed, built fences, surveyed, and wrote in his journal. One product of his two-year sojourn was this book — a great classic of American letters. Interwoven with accounts of Thoreau's daily life (he received visitors and almost daily walked into Concord) are mediations on human existence, society, government, and other topics, expressed with wisdom and beauty of style. Walden offers abundant evidence of Thoreau's ability to begin with observations on a mundane incident or the minutiae of nature and then develop these observations into profound ruminations on the most fundamental human concerns. Credited with influencing Tolstoy, Gandhi, and other thinkers, the volume remains a masterpiece of philosophical reflection. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

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In his work as a physician, Williams had learnt the skill of objective observation which he applied to his poetry, examining, as he said, 'the particular to discover the universal'. Marked by a vernacular American speech and direct observation of the landscape and people of his native New Jersey, his poetry explores the 'raw merging of American pastoral and urban squalor. Emotionally restrained but rich in sensory experience, the poems were written according to the guiding concept: 'no ideas but in things' and those 'things', a red wheelbarrow, a group of trees, a river, convey the local and the particular with a vivid intensity.

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Graham Greene's classic exploration of love, innocence, and morality in Vietnam

"I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused," Graham Greene's narrator Fowler remarks of Alden Pyle, the eponymous "Quiet American" of what is perhaps the most controversial novel of his career. Pyle is the brash young idealist sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission to Saigon, where the French Army struggles against the Vietminh guerrillas.As young Pyle's well-intentioned policies blunder into bloodshed, Fowler, a seasoned and cynical British reporter, finds it impossible to stand safely aside as an observer. But Fowler's motives for intervening are suspect, both to the police and himself, for Pyle has stolen Fowler's beautiful Vietnamese mistress.

Originally published in 1956 and twice adapted to film, The Quiet American remains a terrifiying and prescient portrait of innocence at large. This Graham Greene Centennial Edition includes a new introductory essay by Robert Stone.

For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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First & Second Series Complete in One Volume

Emerson, Alfred Kazin observes, "was a great writer who turned the essay into a form all his own." His celebrated essays are here presented in an authoritative edition, which incorporates all the changes and corrections Emerson made after their initial publication.

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No one, since the days of the great Arab travelers, has described so much of the known world as Jan Morris. Considered by many the preeminent travel writer of our age, she now offers this retrospective selection of her best writings. Including 37 pieces, several of which have never appeared in book form before, these essays cover Morris' entire career from the 1950s to the present, spanning the globe from China to Peru, from Beirut to Houston, and from Leningrad to Manhattan. Writing with elegance, passion, and wit, she captures the complex personality of each city, whether familiar or exotic. In the Preface, she clarifies her purpose: "First to last, the world never ceased to astonish me, and I hope at least a little of that power to amaze, if nothing more profound, may be found between the covers of this book."

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

A Time magazine and New York Times Best Book of the Year

Charles Mason (1728–1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733–1779) were the British surveyors best remembered for running the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland that we know today as the Mason-Dixon Line. Here is their story as reimagined by Thomas Pynchon, featuring Native Americans and frontier folk, ripped bodices, naval warfare, conspiracies erotic and political, major caffeine abuse.

Unreflectively entangled in crimes of demarcation, Mason and Dixon take us along on a grand tour of the Enlightenment’s dark hemisphere, from their first journey together to the Cape of Good Hope, to pre-Revolutionary America and back to England, into the shadowy yet redemptive turns of their later lives, through incongruities in conscience, parallaxes of personality, tales of questionable altitude told and intimated by voices clamoring not to be lost.

Along the way they encounter a plentiful cast of characters, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Samuel Johnson, as well as a Chinese feng shui master, a Swedish irredentist, a talking dog, and a robot duck. The quarrelsome, daring, mismatched pair—Mason as melancholy and Gothic as Dixon is cheerful and pre-Romantic—pursues a linear narrative of irregular lives, observing, and managing to participate in the many occasions of madness presented them by the Age of Reason.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

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