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by Tenessee Williams Year Published: 1948Tenessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire, explores the realm and reprecussions of domestic abuse and the oppression of women in a society that approves of both. This drama offers us the highly complex character of Blanche Dubois, a Southern belle thrown into a world that is much below her, despite its threatening power to totally annihilate her. by Shakespeare Year Published: Between 1599-1602One of Shakespeare's mostwidely known tragedies, the tale of young Hamlet is one of deception, betrayal,and self-interest in which Hamlet is caught in the throes of those who wish tocontrol his father's kingdom. In this play of friends, enemies, ghosts, andpirates, Hamlet alone begs the question, "To be, or not to be?" by Tim O'Brien Year Published: 1995When Vietnam vet and USSenate candidate John Wade's wife goes missing from their idyllic retreat inthe Lake of the Woods, a telling and twisted investigation follows into themysterious disappearance of Kathy Wade. In this ambiguous exploration of thehuman spirit, O'Brien digs deep into the recesses of human culpability and theimpact of our actions on those we claim to love most and the values we claim tohold dear. by Charlotte Bronte Year Published: 1847While antiquated languageprovides some barriers for today's readers, Bronte's Jane Eyre is a poignantlywritten narrative about the constant struggles one faces to meet the demandsand stay within the bounds of societal norms. Set as a romance, the nvoel contains many elements of gothic fiction as well, including mysterious noises and visions, a romantic hero, and undying devotion and devastating betrayal. by Ken Kesey Year Published: 1963Kesey's One Flew Over theCuckoo's Nest was an immediate success when published in 1962. This novelexplores the many social issues of the 1960's era through the experience of menin a mental institution. by Rebecca Gilman Year Published: 1999Rebecca Gilman's 2000 drama,Spinning Into Butter deals with social issues and the oppression brought about in our culture as a result of racism and prejudice. It questions the nature of identity and the difference in appearance andreality as characters seek to understand the norms of society. by Mary E. Pearson Year Published: 2009Mary E. Pearson's 2009 hit,The Adoration of Jenna Fox, follows the struggles of a post-coma teen who istrying to put her life back together after a year-and-a-half long recovery from'the accident.' During Jenna's seemingly hopeless search for her true identity,Pearson explores the ethics of scientific and medical advance and the truenature of humankind and the choices we make. by F. Scott Fitzgerald Year Published: 1925While not a bestseller inits own time, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is a piece of literature thatgained widespread acceptance and reverence posthumously. Set in the decadenceof the Roaring 20's, the characters in the novel struggle against the sametimeless issues that plague the human experience today.
Sincerely F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Crash Course History: The Roaring 20’s”
by Martha Raddatz Year Published: 2007Martha Raddatz's compelling text, The Long Road Home, is the story of the men deployed to Iraqin April of 2004 who are ambushed in a brutal attack dubbed "BlackSunday." In the dual perspective of both the soldiers overseas and theirloved one's back home, Raddatz demonstrates the true depth of loss broughtabout by war. by Cormac McCarthy Year Published: 2006Cormac McCarthy'spost-apocalyptic novel is a testament to the true power of the human will andthe vast uncertainty of true human nature. Through a dark and ashy wastelandand roadside bandits and murderers, a man and a young boy must fight forsurvival. by Tim O'Brien Year Published: 1990Tim O'Brien's novel is acompelling story of a platoon of soldiers struggling through the conflict inVietnam. Gripping in its detail and description, the novel is a cohesivegrouping of stories which could stand alone as O'Brien and explores thecomplexities of war and its effect on the men pushed to the forefront of itsbrutal nature. by Gregory Maguire Year Published: 1995This imaginative and highly involved text takes readers into a world of magic and mystery, developing the backstory to the horribly misunderstood, Wicked Witch of the West, made famous by her pursuit of innocent Dorothy and her sparking red ruby slippers in the classic film, The Wizard of Oz. by Jean Rhys Year Published: 1966Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Seatalks back to Bronte's classic, exploring the destruction that often ensues atthe hands of society's influence and giving voice and dimension to Bertha, Rochester's antic wife in the attic. Set in the cultural backdrop of Jamaica's colonization by the Europeans, Rhys provides a heart-breaking and turbulent backstory to a little regarded and often misunderstood character.
by George Orwell Year Published: 1949George Orwell's classicexplores timeless topics that, though set in the gloomy totalitarian society ofOceania, make strong ties to the human experience today. Through its tragicprotagonist, Winston Smith, and his struggle against Big Brother, 1984 crafts astrong message about the direction of the world under the influence of governmentpower and technological advance that is difficult to ignore. by Lorraine Hansberry Year Published: 1959Lorraine Hansberry'saward-winning drama explores concepts related to the American dream, attainingsometimes impossible goals, and the repercussions of social inequalities due torace and wealth. Within the framework of the play, viewers, or readers, are askedto consider the role of identity, justice, and moral responsibilities we faceevery day. by Loung Ung Year Published: 2000This nonfiction text isLoung Ung's compelling journey of her survival under the Khmer Rouge inCambodia. When Pol Pot's soldiers first evacuate the cities in 1975, Loung isfive years old and doesn't understand the complexities of the political upheavalin the country. It doesn't take long for her to begin to internalize thestruggle to stay alive amidst the execution, starvation, and separation of allthose around her. It is a heartbreaking narrative, but speaks to the strengthof the human spirit as she endures the brutal genocide that claimed one-quarterof the country's population. by Khaled Hosseini Year Published: 2003Khaled Hosseini's debutnovel and international best-seller is a complex narrative with deep characters and compelling themes. Beginning in Kabul in the 1970's, Hosseini delivers a powerful tale of ayoung boy seeking redemption and searching for acceptance. by Homer Year Published: 1488 (?)Homer's classic novelillustrates the journey of the almighty Odysseus as he attempts to make hi wayhome to Ithaca where he has been absent for the past two decades. In hisabsence, his wife and son struggle to make their own place at home andTelemachos is faced with his greatest challenge yet--finding his father anddefending the honor of his name and his family. This action-packed tale islittered with Greek myth and monsters and explores just how far a man will goin the face of adversity. by Margaret Atwood Year Published: 2005Atwood's response to Homer's epic narrative, The Odyssey, The Penelopiad offers his faithful wife, Penelope, a voice as she gives readers her take on the events following the Trojan War regarding her daring husband's absence and sudden return. Witty and sharp, Atwood provides a depth of humanity to this quintessential woman. by Shakespeare Year Published: Between 1590-1592Shakespeare's comedic voiceis showcased in this play detailing the trials and tribulations of wealthyBaptista's two daughters as they are courted. In order to be given beautifulBianca's hand in marriage, the shrewish Kate must first be tamed. While thecharacters experience severe cases of mistaken identities, the charactersstruggle to find out who they are in life and love.