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Literature for Study and Pleasure

Beautiful piece about whether or not to cling to life by Ellen Bass.


Sign up for Poem-a-Day!

What's New

Classic Short Fiction Online

Longer Classics Online

Contemporary Fiction Online

Novels Recommended by NYU Students and Others

Writers Recommended by Students and Friends

Still More Prose Recommended
by Students and Friends



Novels recommended by my friends and students as exemplary and worthy of enjoyment and even study:


Odd Girl Out by Anne Bannon
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Bertenz

The Savage Detectrives by Roberto Bolano

Exiles in America  by Christopher Bram

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Thank You for Smoking by  Christopher Buckley

Pulp by Charles Bukowski  

Possession by A.S. Byatt

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen Carter

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connolly

The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
The Witch from Portobello by Paulo Coelho  

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Drown Junot Diaz

Billy Bathgate E.L. Doctorow

Love Medicine by Lousie Erdrich

The Eyre Affair Jasper Fford

 World Without End by Ken Follett

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

A Place of Hiding Elizabeth George

Three Junes Julia Glass

Lord of the Flies William Golding

Love the One You're With Emily Griffin

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night (" Great voice") Mark Haddon

Tinkers by Paul Harding

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle ( " Freedom to be Imaginative.") Murakami Haruki

Kite Runner by Khalid Hoseini

What I Loved by Siri Hustredt

Never Let Me Go by) Kazuo Ichiguro

Body of Lies by David Ignatious

The World According to Garp John Irving 

The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver

Woman Warrior Maxine Hong Kingston

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

100 Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin

The Road Cormac McCarthy

Atonement Ian McEwan

The Senator's Wife Sue Miller

Black Swan Green David Mitchell

Beloved  by Toni Morrison

The Time Travelers's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger 

Northern Lights by Tim O Brien

Coming Up for Air George Orwell

Invisible Monsters Chuck Palahniuk

My Name is Red Orhan Pamuk

Doctor Zhivago Boris Pasternak

Vernon God Little D.B.C. Pierre

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marsha Pelils

Lush Life Richard Price

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth

Harry Potter books J.K. Rowling

Push  by Sapphire

Nine Stories J.D. Salinger

Blindness Jose Saramago

King Kong on East 4th St. by Jagna Wojcicka Sharff 

On the Waterfront (Shooting Script) by Budd Schulberg

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

War and Peace by Tolstoy

The Secret History by Donna Tratt

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Oranges Aren't the Only Fruit Jeanette Winterson

Man in Full by Tom Wolfe

Revolutionary Road  by Richard Yates

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron 



More writers     

Orson Scott Card

Barbara Kingsolver


Richard Morgan

Alice Munro



Classic & Older Short Fiction Online:


Borges, "The Secret Miracle."
Buck, Pearl S., "Old Demon
Chekhov, "The Lady with the Lapdog"
"Desiree's Baby" by Kate Chopin
"The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant
Isak Dinesen "The Ring"
Susan Glaspell “A Jury of her Peers”
"The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs
"Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville
I.B. Singer, "The Brooch"
James Thurber " The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

Why I Live at the P.O."  by Eudora Welty
William Carlos Williams "The Use of Force" or here.



Contemporary Fiction Online (and some good nonfiction narrative)


"Wants",  "Goodbye and Good Luck," and "Mother" by Grace Paley.
Nonfiction piece from The New York Times'  "Modern Love" series that uses fictional techniques
"Henosis" by N.K. Jemison

"Unprotected" by Simon Rich (life of a wallet condom)
"Happy Endings" by Margaret Atwood.
John Birch "We Are At War" (story of the beginning of a war and some of its unbloody but painful repercussions)
"Rite of Passage" by John Birch
Kate Blakinger "Living in Reverse"  (story)
"The Keeper" by Krishan Coupland
Ashley Cowger "8 Stories I'll Never Tell"
Carol Emshwiller’s Chapter Two from The Mount (novel chapter)
"Dining Alone on Valentine's Day" by Susan Emshwiller
"Michael Ryan" by Joyce A. Griffin
"Pencils" by Tai Dong Huai
"Whale Migration" by Daniel Hudon
"She" by Charles Kaufmann
Edith Konecky ”Cocktail Hour" (novel part)
"Stone" by Miriam N. Kotzin
"Nine" by Aryn Kyle
"Sisters of Mercy" by Joan Leegant.
"The Heavenly Editorial Offices" by Suzanne McConnell
"Killing Rabbits" by Jen Michalski
Liliana by Maile Meloy
Joan Newburger "Death and Taxes" (story)
"Aperçus"by Charles Rammelkamp.
"The Dead Know Nothing," by Charles Rammelkamp.
"Reunion" by John Cheever
 "Starving Makes It Fat" by Kay Sexton
"The Armoire" by Kathryn Shaver
Diane Simmons' "Ticket" (story)
"Color of Sky" by Grant Tracey
"Temptation" by Eva White
 "1969" and  "Evenings with Dotson"  by Meredith Sue Willis , (Two stories that began with the same material)
"Tracks in the Snow" by Joyce Yarrow



Classic Long Stories and Selections

Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer
Dickens Opening of Bleak House
George Eliot’s description of Hall Farm in Adam Bede
Gustave Flaubert's "Un Coeur Simple" (or, in English "A Simple Soul")
Henry James, opening of Portrait of a Lady
James Joyce “The Dead
Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" (long story)
Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilych


Poetry Online

Some Poems I like:

  • A favorite Shakespeare monologue:

    Clarence's speech from Richard III:
    (not pleasant, but gorgeous for all that)
    Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower,
    And was embark'd to cross to Burgundy;
    And, in my company, my brother Gloucester;
    Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
    Upon the hatches: thence we looked toward England,
    And cited up a thousand fearful times,
    During the wars of York and Lancaster
    That had befall'n us. As we paced along
    Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
    Methought that Gloucester stumbled; and, in falling,
    Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard,
    Into the tumbling billows of the main.
    Lord, Lord! methought, what pain it was to drown!
    What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!
    What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!
    Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
    Ten thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon;
    Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
    Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
    All scatter'd in the bottom of the sea:
    Some lay in dead men's skulls; and, in those holes
    Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,
    As 'twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
    Which woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep,
    And mock'd the dead bones that lay scatter'd by.
  • Beautiful audio version of Wordsworth's "Daffodils"
  • Poem about organizing and the human of political movements.
  • A poem of what a mirror sees and has seen by Gail Mazur.
  • Poem of comfort in desolation, by Ellen Bass
  • Here's a wonderfully heavy yet surprisingly uplifing poem by Emilia Phillips with lonely people in restaurants and a dead dream horse.
  • More poetry: a series of anti-Keystone pipeline poems by one of my favorite professors, Karl Patten.  The poems are introduced by Cynthia Hogue.
  • Article (with links to some of her wonderful poems) about Naomi Replansky.
  • Poem about honoring the recently assassinated Americans.
  • A reading from 2001 by Crystal Wilkinson of her poem "Dear Johnny P."
  • Poem about an immigrant auntie who watches Professional Wrestling on t.v.
  • Charles Bukowski "So You Want to Be a Writer"
  • Pastoral by William Carlos Williams


A Bird Song
Christina Rossetti


It's a year almost that I have not seen her:
Oh, last summer green things were greener,
Brambles fewer, the blue sky bluer.
It's surely summer, for there's a swallow:
Come one swallow, his mate will follow,
The bird race quicken and wheel and thicken.
Oh happy swallow whose mate will follow
O'er height, o'er hollow! I'd be a swallow,
To build this weather one nest together.


By Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892


Why, who makes much of a miracle?

As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,

Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,

Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,

Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the


Or stand under trees in the woods,

Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night

        with any one I love,

Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,

Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,

Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer


Or animals feeding in the fields,

Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,

Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so

        quiet and bright,

Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;

These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,

The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.


To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,

Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,

Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the


Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.


To me the sea is a continual miracle,

The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the

        ships with men in them,

What stranger miracles are there?


      -- From Poem-a-Day (Sign up for April, Poetry Month!)


More Recommended Prose

Short stories, unless otherwise stated.

Abbott, Megan             Bury Me Deep        (Angela Laurio)
Andersen, Hans Christian       "The Emperor's New Clothes"        (Mercedes )
Atwood, Margaret        "Happy Endings"        (Caylin Harris)
Bukowski, Charles        Factotum (novel)        (Michael Conway)
                                  "So You Want to be a Writer"        (poem)       (Rémy Renault)
Chandler, Raymond      The Big Sleep (novel)        (Angela Laurio)
Cheever, John              "The Country Husband"        (Liz Iannotti)
Chen, Denise               "Data Ecosystem Products"       (Diane Klein)
Diaz, Junot                   "Ysrael"        (Mercedes )
Erdrich, Louise              The Years of My Birth        (Deb Gaisford)
Foer, Jonathan Safran    New Collection        (Mary Taylor)
Griffin, Joyce A.             "Michael Ryan"        (Angela Laurio)
Huai, Tai Dong               "Pencils"       (David Naistadt)
Ludlum, Robert              The Bourne Ultimatum (novel)        (David Naistadt)
Martin, Demitr                Who Am I        (Jason Borg)
Nabokov, Vladimir           Invitation to a Beheading (Novella)        (Daria Solovieva)
Poe, Edgar Allen            "The Tell Tale Heart"        (Neil James)
Shteyngart, Gary            "Lenny Hearts Eunice"       (Daria Solovieva)
Sorby, Angela                "The Crimson Tree"        (Neil James)
Tracey, Grant                 "Color of Sky"       (Jenny Stahl)
(Traditonal)                     "Goldilocks and the Three Bears"        (Diane Klein)
Varicella, Christopher      "Weiner Roast"        (Rémy Renault)


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