In the Beauty of the Lilies (Penguin Modern Classics)

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John Updike was born in in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He has written a number of collections of short stories, including The Afterlife and Other Stories and Licks of Love , which includes a final Rabbit story, Rabbit Remembered. His essays and criticism first appeared in publications such as the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books , and are now collected into numerous volumes. Although nowadays best known for his stories about his son Christopher Robin and his toys Winnie The Pooh and all the other characters in the Hundred Acre Wood, Alan Alexander Milne would rather be known for his other books and plays.

He wrote a surprisingly good crime novel The Red House Mystery and over 3 dozen plays along with several books of non-fiction. When I was Very Young is one of his rarest works as the only publication of it is the limited edition from The Fountain Press printed in Just copies were produced and all were signed by Milne on the limitation page at the back of the book, my copy is number The book comes in a plain card slipcase rather than a dust wrapper although this easily damaged and is often missing from copies for sale.

Wells being his science teacher at his first school, where his father was head-master.

In the book his two older brothers are called David and John in reality David Barrett Milne and Kenneth John Milne and the age differences are correct along with the description of all three having blue eyes and golden hair. There are several illustrations by Ernest Shepard and the pages have the feel of handmade paper with rough edges. Milne, or at least his agent in America assuming he had one, also seemed to go in for special editions only sold in the USA so there are numerous varieties of some of his titles to collect especially limited editions and pre-signed signed copies.

When I was Very Young was not even the first short book by Milne in being initially issued exclusively as such a volume, in The Fountain Press released The Secret and Other Stories in an edition of The Secret has however since been printed in unlimited modern editions leaving When I was Very Young alone in not being available to a wider readership.

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The first tale is a bit odd as it relates to an apparently shared dream of the two boys when they were about 5 years old for them to wake up one morning and find that everyone else in the world was dead. As soon as we woke up we should know that it had happened; the absence of the governess from our morning toilet, the discovery of her body in the passage between her room and ours — these would be the first signs.

There then follows a drawing by Shepard with the boys eating chocolates and sweets in the shop with the corpse in the background. Not exactly the gentle Winnie the Pooh type tale you might expect! The second story is considerably less disturbing but none the less would be surprising to us nowadays.

The two boys had collected various mineral samples and decided that they wanted to show them to somebody at the Geological Museum then in Jermyn Street. They manage the trip, meet the curator who spends time with them looking at their small collection and also shows them round the museum and on their way back buy some matches to strike in their bedroom at night after the lights had gone out.


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Two very short reminiscences follow, both featuring all three boys, in the first, inspired by a book called The Golden Key they put on an impromptu and unscripted play which turns out to be very short and in the second again after being inspired by a book they decide to be sailors and having lined up in front of their father David explains this to him. Although they were boarding students they were allowed out at weekends providing they had somewhere to stay and this one weekend they were staying at the home of some elderly friends of their father.

They had found a firework left over from the bonfire night celebrations and decided to extract the gunpowder from it. After a while a fairly disappointing quantity of powder was tipped out…. The old comfortable clothes and wreathes of pipe smoke still mark out the well known local character but a new chapter is beginning. Towards the end of his life Terry told Bernard to try writing something of his own and this first novel is the result. What he has produced is a cracking good read with the eye to detail that distinguished his sculptures now turned to give depth to the characters and draw you along through the book as you get to know them and the twists and turns of the dodgy antique furniture trade.

Known throughout the trade in the UK his fame, and skill, is about to get him into a lot of trouble and he wants to retire. The book starts with a fire, one of many on the 5th of November, which is bonfire night here in the UK, a date redolent of history and violence, then jumps back three months as the remaining pages tell the story of how and why the conflagration came about and you very quickly want to know the how, why and especially the who of that particular inferno.

Actually he probably knows more about how to do all sorts of things you are not supposed to do at a police house without senior officers finding out than just about anyone alive but that really is another story. All my limited edition sculptures by Bernard and there are quite a lot are number of however many were produced even when there was less than made….

The photograph of Bernard is by Len Brook , another artist of my acquaintance and a photographer of considerable skill who also has a few tales he can tell. I think that from now on that when reading the book I will always hear the letters as read by Stephanie Powers she gave a wonderful performance. You can see a clip from the film on youtube here. It has to be at least the third copy of this book I have owned as previous copies have disappeared over the years, as I either gave them away to people who I thought would love the book or just never got back a loaned volume.

Initially they are quite business like, Hanff has seen an advert in the Saturday Review of Literature so on 5th October she first makes contact with the firm and pens a short note with a list of books she wants to see if they can supply them. There is no exposition, it is just the letters so all you know about Frank, Helene and the others who write occasional missives is what they include in the correspondence; but from this you really get involved in this developing two decade long friendship. And I was afraid to find out. I carried the letters to the table and opened them — and snapshots of young families spilled out of them.

Some were from Nora Doel, some were from one of the girls who worked in the shop, all of them were 10 or 15 years in the past … I found snapshots of Frank standing proudly beside his new secondhand car. I was laughing by this time, I poured another cup of coffee and settled down to read the letters. You dizzy me, rushing Leigh Hunt and the Vulgate over here whizbang like that.

Just give it a try. Was it at least a good book club discussion? Probably not going to be a popular choice here, but Anthem by Ayn Rand is a great afternoon read. I would definitely add Animal Farm by George Orwell to this list. I read The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Beautiful little book, and only pages, but due to the poetry, reads super fast. I would add one book to this awesome list: Textbook Amy Krause Rosenthal.

You can definitely read it in an afternoon. I strongly recommend it. I would recommend it for readers who like YA. As a teacher, a lot of my books are read in days during the summer. Happy reading! The less you know in advance, the more you will find it heartbreaking, devastating and absolutely unforgettable.

It was his last bit of writing and published after his death. It was made up of short little vignettes that really stayed with me. I just read The Red Notebook a fortnight ago and found it so enchanting and quirky; no-one approaches the French for whimsy, with every mystery a possibility and opportunity. The premise of the novel woman loses handbag — man finds handbag — man decides to track down woman using the contents of the handbag as clues is also good for figuring out if you and your partner think the same. My then boyfriend thought it sounded creepy; I thought it was charming!

The Time Machine — H. No one ever mentions Seize the Day Saul Bellows. Buck in one day. Great list! It is a sharp critique of the patriarchal nature of the Indian society but narrated through a tiny black goat. Need some momentum in your reading life? This list is for you. The Great Gatsby Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald's classic was the topic of my first high school term paper—and despite that, I still love it. This classic American novel captures the Jazz Age in all its decadence and excess, while weaving a wistful story of love and loss, told by Nick Carraway—but can we really trust his version of the tale?

Fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby has built a mansion on Long Island Sound for the sole purpose of wooing and winning his lost love Daisy Buchanan, who married another man while Gatsby was serving overseas. I'll be you weren't assigned this delightfully breezy Cinderella-ish story set in s Britain back in English class. When a placement agency sends unemployed Miss Pettigrew to the wrong address, she spends the best day of her life with a glamorous nightclub singer, extricating her hour by hour from one scrape after another. Overall a fun, frothy fairy tale—but heads up for some unpleasantly dated stereotypes.

Dalloway Author: Virginia Woolf. In this slim novel, Woolf weaves together two seemingly unrelated storylines: one following Mrs Dalloway, an upper class woman preparing to host a dinner party, and the other her "double," a shell-shocked WWI vet contemplating suicide. Woolf used stream-of-consciousness style to explore the inner workings of the mind; this pioneering technique had a lasting effect on fiction as we know it.

I didn't hear of this short novel until a few years ago, since readers with great and diverse tastes kept recommending it. Not so long ago there were seven Blackwoods, but four of them dropped dead from arsenic poisoning several years ago and how that happened remains a mystery. Read it during daylight hours: its themes of family secrets, hateful neighbors, and mysterious deaths aren't the stuff of bedtime reading. It's not exactly scary, but Jackson is sure good at infusing a story with a creepy atmosphere—and the audio version sure makes it come alive.

This was a summer reading pick for my then year-old, and he asked me to read it, too. This American classic is about a group of kids from the wrong side of the tracks in Oklahoma, and I've heard it compared to West Side Story. Unbelievably, Hinton wrote this when she was just 16, and it was published when she was You could also read this title for the category "a book that's been banned at some point.

I finally read this Man Booker Prize winner a couple of years ago, in a single sitting on the couch on a Sunday afternoon.

20 short novels you can read in one day – Modern Mrs. Darcy

Structured as a love triangle, present day events force our narrator to reflect on events from his past, events that had been long settled in his mind. But as he begins to investigate what happened back then, he starts to wonder: did he really grasp what was happening back then? Or was he merely choosing to cast himself in the best possible light? This book, which the New York Times calls "powerfully compact," is the kind that stands up to—and benefits from—repeated re-readings. Fahrenheit Author: Ray Bradbury.

Firemen start the fires in Bradbury's future, because their job is to destroy any and all books as they are found. The book has been repeatedly banned over the years, which is ironic, given that the book itself is about book-banning. Definitely It's a classic, but it's not remotely boring , and too short not to cross off your list. Vinegar Girl Author: Anne Tyler. Shakespeare's comedy The Taming of the Shrew has been adapted for everything from film to opera to ballet to musical theater.

Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler brings a witty contemporary retelling for the Hogarth Shakespeare series. This was a dark kind of fun, easy to read and hard to put down, about a year-old girl who gets mixed up in a decidedly grown-up brew of love, prejudice, and tragedy when her family moves to Palm Beach post-WWII. We read this for a spring Modern Mrs.

Darcy Book Club pick and talked with author Judy Blundell.

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I loved this short novel about two unlikely companions because it reminded me of favorites like Lonesome Dove , These Is My Words , and—perhaps surprisingly— The Road. A Western for readers who think they don't like Westerns, featuring intriguing characters, improbable friendships, strong women, and difficult choices. Interpreter of Maladies Author: Jhumpa Lahiri. This slim volume of short stories was breathtaking.

My Penguin Modern Classics Library Collection

Lahiri's characters tenuously navigate the divide between their old world and their new, and taken together, the collection highlights myriad aspects of the immigrant experience.