100 One-Night Reads: A Book Lover's Guide

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Readers everywhere know that nothing soothes the spirit like settling into a really good book. If you're one of the happy band, you'll quickly recognize the authors of this inspired reading guide as kindred spirits.

Here David and John Major have chosen one hundred books that can be read with great enjoyment in the course of a single evening or if you prefer over the course of several days. These are books to be read for pleasure and all have the capacity to give lasting ...

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100 One-Night Reads: A Book Lover's Guide

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Readers everywhere know that nothing soothes the spirit like settling into a really good book. If you're one of the happy band, you'll quickly recognize the authors of this inspired reading guide as kindred spirits.

Here David and John Major have chosen one hundred books that can be read with great enjoyment in the course of a single evening or if you prefer over the course of several days. These are books to be read for pleasure and all have the capacity to give lasting satisfaction. Reading is one of the easiest and most satisfying of all ways to enrich and enlarge one's life.

Covering categories from fantasy to fiction, history to humor, mystery to memoir, this addictive volume recommends books to match all your moods!

The Majors provide an entertaining discussion of what makes the book special, from an adventurous writing style to a unique sense of humor. They also share literary anecdotes and insights about the authors, and recommend other gems by the same writers to further enrich your leisure reading.

A literary compendium to relish and refer to again and again, 100 One-Night Reads is a masterpiece in its own right!

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A new entry in the "what should I read next?" genre, this volume has a hook: most of the 100 suggested books can be read in one evening. The Major brothers offer recommendations in nonfiction, general fiction, fantasy, humor, mystery, history, public affairs, memoirs, science, and travel. Most are by English or U.S. authors and were published in the 20th century. Each three-page entry includes a description of the book, information about the author, and an evaluation of what makes the book distinctive. Suggestions for additional writings by the author are often included. Among the Majors' favorites are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler, Virginia Woolf, Philip Roth, Walter Mosley, Dylan Thomas, Russell Baker, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Majors have coedited two poetry anthologies and coauthored The New Lifetime Reading Plan. Recommended for public libraries. Shana C. Fair, Ohio Univ., Zanesville, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780884864189
  • Publisher: Sterling
  • Publication date: 11/25/2007
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Read an Excerpt


Raymond Chandler was born in Chicago but spent most of his early life in
England. He attended Dulwich College and fought with Great Britain's
Royal Flying Corps during World War I. After the war he re-turned to
America, settled in Los Angeles, and had a successful business career
during the 1920s in California's booming oil industry. He was wiped out
financially by the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression that
followed it, and began to write crime stories for pulp magazines to make
a living. Persevering in this precarious career, he won acclaim in 1939
with the publication of his first novel, The Big Sleep. He wrote six
more novels over the course of the next two decades, all featuring his
tough-guy detective hero, Philip Marlowe. In 1943, Chandler began to
write film scripts as well as novels and stories, and he achieved
considerable success in the gritty and often grim films that French
critics would later call cinema noir.

Chandler's novels were strongly influenced by the work of his
con-temporary Dashiell Hammett (p. 92), to the extent that Hammett and
Chandler are sometimes described as founders of a "California school" of
hard-boiled detective fiction. (A notable feature of Chandler's novels,
especially, is that they convey very effectively the atmosphere of
corruption that was characteristic of Los Angeles politics and the
city's police department and criminal justice system for much of the
twentieth century.) Philip Marlowe is a tough character whose attitudes
and personal code are very much in the mold of Hammett's Sam Spade,
though Marloweis, generally speaking, a classier sort of detective than
Spade and deals with a richer, more polished clientele. Like all heroes
of the genre, Marlowe is essentially a lone wolf who lives by his own
private moral code. He is interested in justice more than in material
success, and will sometimes (as in this novel) pursue a case further
than his client has asked in order to satisfy his own sense of what is

In The Big Sleep, Marlowe is hired by aging, infirm General Stern-wood
to look into attempts by parties unknown to extort money from him in
what amounts to blackmail. The general's daughters are both involved in
unwise activities. Vivian, the beautiful elder daughter, is a compulsive
gambler, which has given her some unsavory associates; these include her
recently disappeared husband, Regan, an ex-bootlegger and Irish
Republican Army veteran. The younger daughter, Carmen, is a seriously
disturbed personality whose problems include substance abuse,
promiscuity, and a total lack of moral sense. One element of Carmen's
difficulties is that she has been photographed naked by Geiger, a
distributor of illegal pornography. (Given the ubiquity of porn
nowadays, it seems rather quaint that part of the plot of this novel
turns on a conspiracy to distribute dirty pictures. How times change!)
Geiger's business, in turn, is involved with that of Eddie Mars, a
promoter of gambling and other illegal activities, who is someone with
whom Vivian has been involved.

Of course, all of these people are immersed in murky dealings that
involve one another, and other parties as well, in unexpected and
labyrinthine ways. Marlowe's job is to disentangle as much of this as
possible while remaining true to himself and while shielding his client,
the noble and admirable General Sternwood, from learning too much about
the unsavory activities of his daughters (though he guesses a great deal
anyway). Romantic sparks fly between Marlowe and Vivian Sternwood, but
the circumstances under which they meet make it impossible for a
relationship to develop. At the end of the book, Marlowe is as he was at
the beginning, a loner and an idealist.

This is a very entertaining read, even if not every element of the plot
holds together as tightly as one might like, and even though it is no
longer possible to summon up the expected amount of outrage over
Geiger's illegal activities. Marlowe is a wonderful character, and
Chandler's spare, tough language is exactly appropriate for the genre.
It is fun for the dedicated crime-novel reader to observe, too, how
later practitioners have learned from this early master of the form. The
1946 film of The Big Sleep, starring the immortal team of Humphrey
Bogart and Lauren Bacall, is a true classic (William Faulkner worked on
the excellent screenplay).

Copyright 2001 by David C. Major and John S. Major
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Table of Contents

Achebe, Chinua, Things Fall Apart 3
Ambler, Eric, A Coffin for Dimitrios 6
Amis, Kingsley, Lucky Jim 9
Auchincloss, Louis, The Education of Oscar Fairfax 12
Baker, Russell, Growing Up 15
Begley, Louis, Wartime Lies 18
Benson, E. F., Queen Lucia 21
Bringle, Mary, Hacks at Lunch 24
Capote, Truman, Breakfast at Tiffany's 27
Cather, Willa, Death Comes for the Archbishop 30
Chandler, Raymond, The Big Sleep 33
Chatwin, Bruce, In Patagonia 36
Clark, Walter van Tilberg, The Ox-Bow Incident 39
Connell, Evan S., Mrs. Bridge 42
Conrad, Joseph, The Secret Agent 45
Conway, Jill Ker, The Road from Coorain 48
Cornford, F. M., Microcosmographia Academica: Being a Guide for the Young Academic Politician 52
Dennis, Patrick, Auntie Mame 55
Dermout, Maris, The Ten Thousand Things 58
Dimock, Edward Cameron, Mr. Dimock Explores the Mysteries of the East 61
Dundas, Hugh, Flying Start: A Fighter Pilot's War Years 64
Dyson, Freeman J., The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet 67
Elliott, Bob, and Ray Goulding, Write If You Get Work: The Best of Bob and Ray 71
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, "The American Scholar" and "Self-Reliance" 74
Fitzgerald, F. Scott, The Great Gatsby 77
Flanner, Janet, Paris Was Yesterday: 1925-1939 80
Forster, E. M., Where Angels Fear to Tread 83
Galbraith, John Kenneth, Name-Dropping 86
Greene, Graham, Our Man in Havana 89
Hammett, Dashiell, The Maltese Falcon 92
Hanff, Helene, 84, Charing Cross Road 95
Hansen, Joseph, Fadeout 98
Heaney, Seamus, (trans.), Beowulf 101
Hemingway, Ernest, The Sun Also Rises 105
Higgins, George V., The Friends of Eddie Coyle 108
Highsmith, Patricia, The Talented Mr. Ripley 111
Hilton, James, Lost Horizon 114
Jackson, Shirley, The Haunting of Hill House 117
James, Henry, Washington Square 120
Jewett, Sarah Orne, The Country of the Pointed Firs 124
Joyce, James, Dubliners 128
Kates, George, The Years Were Fat 131
Kawabata, Yasunari, Snow Country 134
Kernan, Alvin, Crossing the Line 138
Kipling, Rudyard, Kim 141
Kotzwinkle, William, The Bear Went Over the Mountain 144
Lagerkvist, Par, Barabbas 147
Lee, Laurie, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning 149
Leopold, Aldo, A Sand Country Almanac 152
Lewis, C. S., Out of the Silent Planet 155
Leys, Simon, Chinese Shadows 158
Liebling, A. J., Between Meals 162
London, Jack, The Call of the Wild 164
MacDonald, John D., The Deep Blue Good-By 167
Mangione, Jerre, Mount Allegro 170
Mann, Thomas, Death in Venice 173
Maugham, W. Somerset, The Razor's Edge 176
Maxwell, William, They Came Like Swallows 179
McGlinchey, Charles, The Last of the Name 182
Medawar, Peter Brian, Advice to a Young Scientist 185
Mosley, Walter, Devil in a Blue Dress 188
Muir, John, My First Summer in the Sierra 191
Narayan, R. K., The English Teacher 195
Newby, Eric, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush 198
Nicol, John, The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner 201
O'Brian, Patrick, The Unknown Shore 205
Orwell, George, Animal Farm 209
Parkinson, C. Northcote, Parkinson's Law 213
Porter, Katherine Anne, Pale Horse, Pale Rider 216
Portis, Charles, True Grit 219
Pym, Barbara, Excellent Women 221
Pynchon, Thomas, The Crying of Lot 49 225
Remarque, Erich Maria, All Quiet on the Western Front 228
Robertson, Adele Crockett, The Orchard 231
Roth, Philip, Portnoy's Complaint 235
Sellar, W. C., and R. J. Yeatman, 1066 and All That 238
Seth, Vikram, The Golden Gate 241
Singer, Issac Bashevis, The Magician of Lublin 244
Sobel, Dava, Longitude 247
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich 251
Stegner, Wallace, Remembering Laughter 254
Stevenson, Robert Louis, Treasure Island 257
Sullivan, Frank, Frank Sullivan Through the Looking Glass 260
Tahan, Malba, The Man Who Counted 263
Thesiger, Wilfred, Arabian Sands 266
Thomas, Dylan, Under Milk Wood 270
Tolkien, J. R. R., The Hobbit 272
Tregaskis, Richard, Guadalcanal Diary 274
van Gulik, Robert H., The Chinese Gold Murders 277
Verne, Jules, Around the World in Eighty Days 280
Watson, James D., The Double Helix 283
Waugh, Evelyn, The Loved One 287
Wescott, Glenway, The Pilgrim Hawk 290
West, Nathanael, The Day of the Locust 293
Wharton, Edith, Madame de Treymes 296
White, E. B., Charlotte's Web 298
Wilder, Laura Ingalls, On the Way Home and West From Home 301
Wilder, Thornton, The Bridge of San Luis Rey 303
Wodehouse, P. G., Something Fresh 306
Wroe, Ann, A Fool and His Money 309
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