2015 List

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White Teeth– Zadie Smith (2000-Fiction)
James Tait Black Memorial for Fiction (2000), National Book Critics Circle Nominee for Fiction (2000), TIME MAGAZINE’S 100 BEST ENGLISH LANGUAGE NOVELS PUBLISHED SINCE 1923

“Our children will be born of our actions. Our accidents will become their destinies. Oh, the actions will remain. It is a simple matter of what you will do when the chips are down, my friend. When the fat lady is singing. When the walls are falling in, and the sky is dark, and the ground is rumbling. In that moment our actions will define us. And it makes no difference whether you are being watched by Allah, Jesus, Buddha, or whether you are not. On cold days a man can see his breath, on a hot day he can’t. On both occasions, the man breathes.”

-Zadie Smith, White Teeth

We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda– Philip Gourevitch (1998- Nonfiction)
PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction Writers (1999), National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction (1998)

“On April 30, 1997—almost a year ago as I write—Rwandan television showed footage of a man who confessed to having been among a party of génocidaires who had killed seventeen schoolgirls and a sixty-two-year-old Belgian nun at a boarding school in Gisenyi two nights earlier… During their attack on the school in Gisenyi, as in the earlier attack on the school in Kibuye, the students, teenage girls who had been roused from their sleep, were ordered to separate themselves—Hutus from Tutsis. But the students had refused. At both schools, the girls said they were simply Rwandans, so they were beaten and shot indiscriminately.

            Rwandans have no need—no room in their corpse-crowded imaginations—for more martyrs. None of us does. But mightn’t we all take some courage from the example of those brave Hutu girls who could have chosen to live, but chose instead to call themselves Rwandans?”

-Philip Gourevitch, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda

My Àntonia– Willa Cather (1918- Fiction)

“I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness, to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”

-Willa Cather, My Àntonia

Death of a Salesman– Arthur Miller (1949- Fiction)
Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1949)

“Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with territory.”

-Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao– Junot Díaz (1997- Fiction)
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2008), Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction (2008), National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (2007)

“Success, after all, loves a witness, but failure can’t exist without one.”

-Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Walden– Henry David Thoreau (1854- Nonfiction)

“A farmer, a hunter, a soldier, a reporter, even a philosopher, may be daunted; but nothing can deter a poet, for he is actuated by pure love. Who can predict his comings and goings? His business calls him out at all hours, even when doctors sleep.”

-Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Wuthering Heights– Emily Brontë (1847- Fiction)

“…for what is not connected with her to me? And what does not recall her? I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped on the flags! In every cloud, in every tree—filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object, by day I am surrounded with her image! The most ordinary faces of men, and women—my own features mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and I have lost her!”

– Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America– Erik Larson (2003- Nonfiction)
National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction (2003)

“To me every trip to a library or archive is like a small detective story. There are always little moments on such trips when the past flares to life, like a match in the darkness.”

– Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City

Beloved– Toni Morrison (1987- Fiction)
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1988), National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (1987), National Book Award Finalist for Fiction (1987), TIME MAGAZINE’S 100 BEST ENGLISH LANGUAGE NOVELS PUBLISHED SINCE 1923

“It was lovely. Not to be stared at, not seen, but being pulled into view by the interested, uncritical eyes of the other.”

-Toni Morrison, Beloved

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