Title Recommendations based on Orlando

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

James Joyce's supremely innovative fictional autobiography is also, in the apt phrase of the biographer Richard Ellmann, nothing less than "the gestation of a soul." For as he describes the shabby, cloying, and sometimes terrifying Dublin upbringing of his alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, Joyce immerses the reader in his emerging consciousness, employing language that ranges from baby talk to hellfire sermon to a triumphant artist's manifesto. The result is a novel of immense boldness, eloquence, and energy, a work that inaugurated a literary revolution and has become a model for the portrayal of the self in our time.

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Catch-22

Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he's assigned, he'll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

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The Americans

Elizabeth Jennings lives with her husband, Phillip, and their children, Paige and Henry in a Washington, D.C. suburb during the 1950's. On the surface, they live an average middle-class family that goes to the mall and bakes brownies. But they are actually undercover agents from the Soviet Union completing missions for their homeland. Keeping their cover is getting harder as their children grow older and as an FBI agent moves in next door.

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Invisible Man

The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.

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Reality Bites

A small circle of friends suffering from post-collegiate blues must confront the hard truth about life, love and the pursuit of gainful employment. As they struggle to map out survival guides for the future, the Gen-X quartet soon begins to realize that reality isn't all it's cracked up to be.

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On the Road: 50th Anniversary Edition

Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac's classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be "Beat" and has inspired every generation since its initial publication more than fifty years ago. Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

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The Stranger

Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd."

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The Wire

In West Baltimore, neighborhoods are tough and filled with gangs and guns. There, it's play or get played. Stringer Bell and his childhood friend Avon Barksdale have turned a once-modest drug-dealing ring into a drug empire. But they can't shake pesky detective Jimmy McNulty's operation, which is slowly but surely building a case against them. That is, if other gangs don't get to them first.

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Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness follows Marlow, a riverboat captain, on a voyage into the African Congo at the height of European colonialism. Astounded by the brutal depravity he witnesses, Marlow becomes obsessed with meeting Kurtz, a famously idealistic and able man stationed farther along the river. What he finally discovers, however, is a horror beyond imagining.

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American Psycho

In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

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As I Lay Dying

One of William Faulkner's finest novels, As I Lay Dying, remains a captivating and stylistically innovative work. The story revolves around a grim yet darkly humorous pilgrimage, as Addie Bundren's family sets out to fulfill her last wish: to be buried in her native Jefferson, Mississippi, far from the miserable backwater surroundings of her married life. Told through multiple voices, As I Lay Dying vividly brings to life Faulkner's imaginary South, one of literature's great invented landscapes, and is replete with the poignant, impoverished, violent, and hypnotically fascinating characters that were his trademark.

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Frances Ha

An aspiring dancer moves to New York City and becomes caught up in a whirlwind of flighty fair-weather friends, diminishing fortunes and career setbacks.

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The Magicians

Growing up, Quentin Coldwater was obsessed with the children's book series Fillory and Further: a Narnia-like adventure about travel to a magical land. And now Quintin is fulfilling his dream of studying magic as a secret school called Brakebills. Magic is dangerous, though, and there may be bigger things looming in his future than just passing the next exam.

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Citizen Kane

Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

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Slaughterhouse-Five

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world's great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

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