Little Spine Club

A short collection of bite-size classics under 160 pages.

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  1. THE SONG OF ROLAND by W. S. Merwin
  2. The Song of Roland is as canonical and significant as Beowulf. Against the bloody backdrop of the struggle between Christianity and Islam, The Song of Roland remains a vivid portrayal of medieval life, knightly adventure, and feudal politics.

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  4. In Ivan Ilyich, a bureaucrat looks back over his life, which suddenly seems meaningless and wasteful, while in Master and Man, a landowner and servant must each confront the value of the other as they brave a devastating snowstorm. 

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  6. Between 1841 and 1844, Edgar Allan Poe invented the genre of detective fiction with three mesmerizing stories of a young French eccentric named C. Auguste Dupin. 

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  7. DE PROFUNDIS by Oscar Wilde
  8. Written from Wilde’s prison cell at Reading Gaol to his friend and lover Lord Alfred Douglas, De Profundis explodes the conventions of the traditional love letter and offers a scathing indictment of Douglas’s behavior, a mournful elegy for Wilde’s own lost greatness, and an impassioned plea for reconciliation.

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  9. THE LAND OF LITTLE RAIN by Mary Austin
  10. In this classic collection of meditations on the wonders of this region, Austin generously shares “such news of the land, of its trails and what is astir in them, as one lover of it can give to another.” 

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  11. A STUDY IN SCARLET by Arthur Conan Doyle
  12. In A Study in Scarlet, Doyle presents two equally perplexing mysteries for Holmes to solve: one a murder that takes place in the shadowy outskirts of London, in a locked room where the haunting word Rache is written upon the wall, the other a kidnapping set in the American West.

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  13. THE ANATOMY OF DESSERT by Edward A. Bunyard
  14. When we think of dessert, our mind’s eye sees cakes, pies, and pastries. Yet the truly creative palate imagines things even more tempting, decadent, and, yes, sinful.

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  15. THE HAUNTED HOUSE by Charles Dickens
  16. On Christmas Eve, a party of friends descends on a purportedly haunted country retreat, charged with the task of discovering evidence of the supernatural. Sequestered in their rooms for the holiday, the friends reconvene on Twelfth Night at a great feast and share their stories of spectral encounter.

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  17. SIDDHARTHA by Herrmann Hesse
  18. The classic novel of a quest for knowledge that has delighted, inspired, and influenced generations of readers, writers, and thinkers.

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  19. SUMMER CROSSING by Truman Capote
  20. Set in New York during the summer of 1945, this is the story of a young carefree socialite, Grady, who must make serious decisions about the romance she is dangerously pursuing and the effect it will have on everyone involved.

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  21. THE PRINCE by Niccolo Machiavelli
  22. Machiavelli reveals nothing less than the secrets of power: how to gain it, how to wield it, and how to keep it. Ruthless, cunning, and amoral, The Prince is a controversial analysis of manipulation and an essential guide for anyone interested in conquest, self-defense, or observation of dominance and control.

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  23. DUSK AND OTHER STORIES by James Salter
  24. Two New York attorneys newly flush with wealth embark on a dissolute tour of Italy; an ambitious young screenwriter unexpectedly discovers the true meaning of art and glory; a rider, far off in the fields, is involved in an horrific accident—night is falling, and she must face her destiny alone. 

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  25. THE GARDENER’S YEAR by Karel Capek
  26. The Gardener’s Year combines a richly comic portrait of life in the garden, narrated month by month, with a series of delightful illustrations by the author’s older brother and collaborator, Josef.

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  27. BEYOND THE EDGE OF THE SEA by Mauricio Obregón
  28. Mauricio Obregón has combed through classical texts, focusing on the smallest details, and with his intimate knowledge of historical navigation, brilliantly reenacts the voyages the ancient heroes actually traveled. Using the clues embedded in these epic tales, Obregón deftly argues that many of the legends are not merely fiction, but are, quite possibly, true adventures.

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  29. CHARLOTTE TEMPLE by Susanna Rowson
  30. Seduced by the dashing Lieutenant Montraville, who persuades her to move to America with him, fifteen-year-old Charlotte Temple leaves her adoring parents and makes the treacherous sea voyage to New York.

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  31. CANDIDE by Voltaire
  32. The globe-trotting misadventures of the youthful Candide; his tutor, Dr. Pangloss; Martin, and the exceptionally trouble-prone object of Candide’s affections, Cunégonde, as they brave exile, destitution, cannibals, and numerous deprivation, provoke both belly laughs and deep contemplation about the roles of hope and suffering in human life. 

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  33. THE TIME MACHINE by H. G. Wells
  34. When the intrepid Time Traveller finds himself in the year 802,701, he encounters a seemingly utopian society of evolved human beings but then unearths the dark secret that sets mankind on course toward its inevitable destruction.

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  35. AFTER NATURE by W. G. Sebald
  36. W. G. Sebald’s first literary work, now translated into English by Michael Hamburger, explores the lives of three men connected by their restless questioning of humankind’s place in the natural world.

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  37. A CHRISTMAS MEMORY by Truman Capote
  38. Seven-year-old Buddy inaugurates the Christmas season by crying out to his cousin, Miss Sook Falk: “It’s fruitcake weather!” Thus begins an unforgettable portrait of an odd but enduring friendship and the memories the two friends share of beloved holiday rituals.  

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  39. LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET by Rainer Maria Rilke
  40. Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet are arguably the most famous and beloved letters of the twentieth century. Eloquent and personal, Rilke’s meditations on the creative process, the nature of love, the wisdom of children, and the importance of solitude offer a wealth of spiritual and practical guidance for anyone.

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  41. ON WRITING by Eudora Welty
  42. On Writing presents the answers in seven concise chapters discussing the subjects most important to the narrative craft, and which every fiction writer should know, such as place, voice, memory, and language. 

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  43. THE KREUTZER SONATA by Leo Tolstoy
  44. When Marshal of the Nobility Pozdnyshev suspects his wife of having an affair with her music partner, his jealousy consumes him and drives him to murder.

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  45. DAISY MILLER by Henry James; Introduction by Elizabeth Hardwick
  46. The young Daisy Miller, an American on holiday with her mother on the shores of Switzerland’s Lac Leman, is one of James’s most vivid and tragic characters.

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  48. Young Harriett Frean is taught that “behaving beautifully” is paramount, and she becomes a self-sacrificing woman whose choices prove devastating to herself and to those who love her most.

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  49. THE RETURN OF THE SOLDIER by Rebecca West
  50. Set during World War I on an isolated country estate just outside London, Rebecca West’s haunting novel The Return of the Soldier follows Chris Baldry, a shell-shocked captain suffering from amnesia, as he makes a bittersweet homecoming to the three women who have helped shape his life.

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  51. DARKNESS VISIBLE by William Styron
  52. The text of this Modern Library Paperback Classic was set from the first American edition, published in 1918, and features original illustrations by Norman Price.

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  54. The Life of Alexander the Great is one of the first surviving attempts to memorialize the achievements of this legendary king, remembered today as the greatest military genius of all time.

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  55. A WORKING GIRL CAN’T WIN by Deborah Garrison
  56. Deborah Garrison conjures up the universal dilemmas and pleasures of a young woman trying to come to terms with love and work.

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Modern Library