Book Casing

Great books recommended by great people.

Ben Schott's Bookcase

Ben Schott (born 26 May 1974) is a British writer, photographer, and author of the Schott's Miscellanies and Schott's Almanac series.

Recommends

A vaguely sinister comedy of manners by beloved artist Edward Gorey

Told in a set of fourteen rhyming couplets, The Doubtful Guest is the story of a solemn, mysterious, outdoor creature, dressed rather ordinarily in sneakers and a scarf, who appears on a winter night at a family's Victorian home and never leaves again. Gorey's eerie and charming illustrations accompany the verses, making this an enjoyably strange (and strangely enjoyable) read for all ages.

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The Birth of the Prison

In this brilliant work, the most influential philosopher since Sartre suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner's body to his soul.

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Sent down from Oxford after a wild, drunken party, Paul Pennyfeather is oddly surprised to find himself qualifying for the position of schoolmaster at a boys' private school in Wales. His colleagues are an assortment of misfits, rascals and fools, including Prendy (plagued by doubts) and Captain Grimes, who is always in the soup (or just plain drunk). Then Sports Day arrives, and with it the delectable Margot Beste-Chetwynde, floating on a scented breeze. As the farce unfolds in Evelyn Waugh's dazzling debut as a novelist, the young run riot and no one is safe, least of all Paul.

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Over a remarkable career that spanned more than sixty years, Abram Games was a leading voice in 20th-century British graphic design. A modernist who used graphically charged symbols to catch the eye, he designed posters, signage, packaging, and other ephemera for such giants as the BBC, Shell, the Financial Times, Guinness, and the London Underground. During World War II, he was England's official war poster designer, a position from which he oversaw the design and production of hundreds of posters calling on Britons to stand fast and support the Allied troops. Abram Games: His Life and Work is the first monograph on this design legend whose work helped to define the look of modern English culture.

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Very Good, Jeeves! is a collection of short stories starring Bertie Wooster in eleven alarming predicaments from which he has to be rescued by his peerless gentleman’s gentleman. Whether Bertie is tangled with a red-headed ball of fire such as Roberta Wickham, dealing with an irate headmistress, placating a cabinet minister, puncturing the wrong hot water bottle, singing ‘Sonny Boy’, or simply trying to concentrate on his golf handicap, Jeeves is always there to help-though rarely in ways which his employer expects. These brilliant plotted stories give the essence of Wodehousean comedy.

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Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat.  Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo.  As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon.

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Note: For this ISBN, kindly use the magnifying glass which is provided along with the book.

When the twenty-volume Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, appeared years ago, the public response was extraordinary. The AP and UPI announced publication over their newswires. Time and Newsweek ran full-page articles. The New Yorker published an extensive essay. Virtually every major paper in American and in Great Britain covered the event. And from every corner, the praise was lavish. Time called it "a scholarly Everest." Newsweek, "a celebration of language." And Herbert Mitgang, in The New York Times, called the new OED "the last word on words" and "the arbiter of the English language as it is read and spoken all over the world."

Now comes the Compact Edition of OED II, which captures all the wealth of scholarship found in the original edition in just one volume. The Compact is not an abridgement, but a direct photoreduction of the entire 20-volume set, with nine pages of the original on every nine-by-twelve page of the Compact (a magnifying glass comes with it). As in the Second Edition, the Compact combines in one alphabetical sequence the sixteen volumes of the first OED and the four Supplements--plus an extra five thousand new words to bring this monumental dictionary completely up to date. And it is monumental, with definitions of 500,000 words, 290,000 main entries, 137,000 pronunciations, 249,300 etymologies, 577,000 cross-references, and over 2,412,000 illustrative quotations. But as large as it is, perhaps its most important feature is its historical focus. The OED records not only words and meanings currently in use but also those that have long been considered obsolete. Moreover, under each definition of a word is a chronologically arranged group of quotations that illustrate the word's usage down through the years, beginning with its earliest known appearance. The result is a dictionary that offers unique insight into the way our language has, over the centuries, grown, changed, and been put to use.

More than 100 years in the making, The Oxford English Dictionary is now universally acknowledged as the world's greatest dictionary--the supreme arbiter on the usage and meaning of English words, a fascinating guide to the history and evolution of the language, and one of the greatest works of scholarship ever produced. The Washington Post has written that "no one who reads or writes seriously can be without the OED." Now with the Compact, the world's greatest dictionary is within the reach of anyone who wants one.

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Internationally acclaimed for its eccentricity and adored for its lovelorn lyricism, Dylan Thomas’s groundbreaking 1954 "play for voices," Under Milk Wood, has long echoed in the imagination of the founding father of British Pop Art, Sir Peter Blake. An obsession that has spanned almost thirty years, this "greenleaved sermon on the innocence of men" has filled the spaces of Blake’s studio, played and replayed on broadcast recordings, and prompted several pilgrimages to Thomas’s creative refuge at Laugharne, Carmarthenshire. All is "strangely simple and simply strange" in the sleepy Welsh seaside town of Llareggub, as the dreams, fantasies and realities of the inhabitants unfold across the cycle of one spring day. At once a lively and humorous depiction of the butchers, bakers, preachers and children, of Captain Cat, Nogood Boyo and Polly Garter – with a ribaldry in which Blake delights – it is also a modern pastoral tale on a Chaucerian scale, a quest for innocence and purity of utterance in a "darkest-before-dawn" world. Revealed here for the very first time with the definitive play text are the "dismays and rainbows" of this great artist’s richly detailed sequences of 110 watercolors, pencil portraits and collages, comprising one of his most distinctive and significant single bodies of work.

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An exciting new edition of the complete works of Shakespeare with these features: Illustrated with photographs from New York Shakespeare Festival productions, vivid readable readable introductions for each play by noted scholar David Bevington, a lively personal foreword by Joseph Papp, an insightful essay on the play in performance, modern spelling and pronunciation, up-to-date annotated bibliographies, and convenient listing of key passages.

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The London Encyclopaedia is the most comprehensive book on London ever published. In its first new edition in more than 10 years, completely revised and updated, it comprises some 6,000 entries, organized alphabetically, cross-referenced, and supported by two large indexes—one for the 10,000 people mentioned in the text and one general—and is illustrated with more than 500 drawings, prints, and photographs. Everything that is important in the history and culture of London is documented, whether vanished or extant, from its first settlement to the present day.

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The Gulag Archipelago is Solzhenitsyn's masterwork, a vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centres and secret police, of informers and spies and interrogators and also of heroism, a Stalinist anti-world at the heart of the Soviet Union where the key to survival lay not in hope but in despair. The work is based on the testimony of some two hundred survivors, and on the recollection of Solzhenitsyn's own eleven years in labour camps and exile. It is both a thoroughly researched document and a feat of literary and imaginative power. This edition has been abridged into one volume at the author's wish and with his full co-operation.

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Arcadia takes us back and forth between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ranging over the nature of truth and time, the difference between the Classical and the Romantic temperament, and the disruptive influence of sex on our orbits in life. Focusing on the mysteries―romantic, scientific, literary―that engage the minds and hearts of characters whose passions and lives intersect across scientific planes and centuries, it is "Stoppard's richest, most ravishing comedy to date, a play of wit, intellect, language, brio and . . . emotion. It's like a dream of levitation: you're instantaneously aloft, soaring, banking, doing loop-the-loops and then, when you think you're about to plummet to earth, swooping to a gentle touchdown of not easily described sweetness and sorrow . . . Exhilarating" (Vincent Canby, The New York Times).

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In Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, one of the towering figures of English literature is revealed with unparalleled immediacy and originality, in a biography to which we owe much of our knowledge of the man himself. Through a series of richly detailed anecdotes, Johnson emerges as a sociable figure, vigorously engaging and fencing with great contemporaries such as Garrick, Goldsmith, Burney and Burke, and of course with Boswell himself. Yet anxieties and obsessions also darkened Johnson's private hours, and Boswell's attentiveness to every facet of Johnson's character makes this biography as moving as it is entertaining.

In this entirely new and unabridged edition, David Womersley's introduction examines the motives behind Boswell's work, and the differences between the two men that drew them to each other. It also contains chronologies of Boswell and Johnson, appendices and comprehensive indexes, including biographical details.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 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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Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligensia, 1880-1939

In this landmark study, John Carey analyzes the elitest views of some of the most highly respected literary icons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This book, as defined in his preface, "is about the response of the English literary intelligentsia to the new phenomenon of mass culture." Readers may be shocked to learn that H.G. Wells liked to think that this newly emerged "mass" would be eliminated by plague and atomic bombs; that Yeats wished them to perish in an apocalyptic war against the educated classes and that D.H. Lawrence visualized a huge lethal chamber in which they could be exterminated. John Carey's devastating attack on the intellectuals exposes the loathing which the mass of humanity ignited in many of the virtual founders of modern culture: G.B. Shaw, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot and others. Professor Carey compares their detestation of common humanity to Nietzsche, whose philosophy helped create the atmosphere leading to the rise of Adolph Hitler. Any student of modern literature and history will find John Carey's incisive book both enlightening and disturbing, an essential read for a full understanding of where we are today.

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Maurice Castle is a high-level operative in the British secret service during the Cold War. He is deeply in love with his African wife, who escaped apartheid South Africa with the help of his communist friend. Despite his misgivings, Castle decides to act as a double agent, passing information to the Soviets to help his in-laws in South Africa. In order to evade detection, he allows his assistant to be wrongly identified as the source of the leaks. But when suspicions remain, Castle is forced to make an even more excruciating sacrifice to save himself. Originally published in 1978, The Human Factor is an exciting novel of espionage drawn from Greene’s own experiences in MI6 during World War II, and ultimately a deeply humanistic examination of the very nature of loyalty. This edition features a new introduction by Colm Tóibín.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 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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The Ishihara 24 plate Color Test is a test for red-green color deficiencies. It was named after its designer, Dr. Shinobu Ishihara, a professor at the University of Tokyo, who first published his tests in 1917. [1] The test consists of a number of colored plates, called Ishihara plates, each of which contain a circle of dots appearing randomized in color and size. Within the pattern are dots which form a number visible to those with normal color vision and invisible, or difficult to see, for those with a red-green color vision defect.

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