Looking to fill up long summer days and expand your mind? Here are some essentials that happen to be great reads as well.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
This beautifully written and funny novel is all about Humbert Humbert and his love affair with a young girl named Lolita.
Dubliners by James Joyce
A series of complex, beautiful stories about Irish life, this is by far the most readable of James Joyce's masterpieces.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
Carver's spare, haunting stories are both funny and painful. Whether it's the used furniture from a failed marriage to the man who cuts his ex-wife's telephone chord in the middle of a conversation, these stories are all about small but revealing moments in American life.
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Zinn examines American history through the tales of people who lived it in this lively, entertaining book. Be forewarned: he's not afraid to examine the dark parts of our nation's history.
Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
Lydia Davis' wonderful translation brings this classic work about memory, childhood, and--of course--madeleines to life.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Set in the future Year of Depends Undergarment, Wallace's sprawling novel about addicts, teenagers, and crippled Quebecois terrorists is hilarious, intelligent, and heavily annotated.
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Greene's classic novel about passion, jealousy, and a love triangle is set in London just after WWII.
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
The intimate, funny, poignant, and sometimes lewd memoirs of the author's life in Paris was banned in the U.S. for many years but is now recognized as a classic of modern American literature.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Franzen's absorbing 2010 novel centers around the sometimes desperate lives of one family and the people who surround them.
Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
A brilliant and beautiful fictional memoir of the ancient roman emperor Hadrian.