'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov
The wisest poetry, the most extraordinary prose: five top-shelf books that will blow open your understanding of the world.
by Vladimir Nabokov

It blows open a new understanding of the world, its gorgeousness, its corruption and pain, all embedded in the 20th century's most extraordinary English prose.
'Four Quartets' by T.S. Eliot
Four Quartets
by T.S. Eliot

This is the most musical and wisest poetry in the language of our time and place. (Short of that, The Complete Poems 1927–1979, by Elizabeth Bishop.)
'The Wisdom of the Desert' translated by Thomas Merton
The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century
translated by Thomas Merton

We all sometimes need to imagine what it would be like to live simply and purely, dedicated to a force larger than ourselves.
'Waiting for Godot' by Samuel Beckett
Waiting for Godot
We need to remember that just because we're sad, that doesn't mean we're not also marvelously comical and transcendently courageous.
'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe

This, the first in Achebe's monumental and unsparing trilogy of Igbo life in western Africa, is the strongest and most important novel of the postcolonial world.


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