The Basic Bookcase

The Second Shelf: Books Without Frontiers

12 June 1999

The Second Shelf We'll assume that each of these books is 21mm thick (about 0.82"), thus fitting 35 books on this shelf. Since virtually all of them are available as paperbacks, and 73.5cm (29") is just slightly narrower than ideal for a real bookshelf, 35 books should fit comfortably.

These are "books without frontiers," in the sense that they do not fit comfortably in any marketing category. Some of them are even labelled "children's books"! In one way or another, though, they are all part of the broad tradition of speculation in fiction. Unfortunately, some of them are translations from other languages. Be very careful of "exact quotations" from such translations. I always recommend reading a book in the language in which it was written. (That is, unfortunately, usually expecting too much for Americans, who tend not to learn foreign languages well, if at all.)

Some of these authors also appeared on the top shelf. I encourage anyone who likes these books to read more by the same authors. Nothing on this shelf should embarass you with a literature professor.

In a few cases, I have provided a link to a specific edition. These links are purposeful, and specify what I believe is the preferred edition in those cases in which I am familiar enough with the different editions available to judge.

1 [unknown], The Arabian Nights (trans. Haddawy)
2 Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths
3 Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (aside: the best of a bad selection of editions)
4 Italo Calvino, Fantastic Tales: Visionary and Everyday
5 Albert Camus, The Stranger
6 Orson Scott Card, Pastwatch
7 Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There
8 Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories
9 Miguel Saavedra de Cervantes, Don Quixote
10 Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
11 Anton Chekhov, Forty Stories
12 Fedor Doestoevskii, The Brothers Karamazov
13 William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
14 William Gaddis, The Recognitions
15 Andre Gide, The Counterfeiters
16 Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Faust (trans. abr. Kaufman)
17 Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
18 Homer, The Odyssey (trans. Lattimore)
19 Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (trans. Asher)
20 Ursula K. LeGuin, The Compass Rose
see also the Author Retrospective
21 ———, The Dispossessed: A Novel of Utopia
see also the Author Retrospective
22 C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
23 Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
24 Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of the Genji (trans. abr. Seidensticker)
25 George Orwell, Animal Farm
26 Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago
27 Edgar Allen Poe, Tales of Mystery and Imagination
28 Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2
29 Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
30 William Shakespeare, Hamlet
31 ———, Henry IV, Part 1
32 ———, A Midsummer Night's Dream
33 ———, The Tempest
34 Mark Twain, The Adventures of Hucklebury Finn
35 Ievgenii Zamiatin, We


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