Like a Virgin: an A-Z of concept literature
Want to explore a concept, literary style or period? Not sure where to start? Here are books to touch you for the very first time.
A - Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Laissez-faire capitalism is the answer to everything.
B - Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Alienating effects of a society in which humans are treated as mere resources.
C - The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. What is this socialism of which they speak? This pamphlet explains.
D - Dubliners by James Joyce. Modernist short story collection on the human condition.
E - The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. How to write reel purty.
F - The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer. 70s identity politics classic given to odd rants and wobbly logic. Bring a mirror.
G - Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Almost nobody’s read it, and nobody likes the people who have.
H - The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Gender divides and fundamentalism are bad for everyone.
I - I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. Life with an eccentric 1930s English family isn’t a bowl of cherries.
J - Jeeves and Wooster by PG Wodehouse. Why so serious? Fun, fast-paced and hilarious adventures of a toff and his butler.
K - Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig. Two people in a cell in 1970s Argentina fight to stay sane and alive. Postmodern, but in a good way.
L - The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin. Intrigue and adventure on a world in which almost no one has a fixed gender.
M - Monkey (or Journey to the West) by Wu Cheng'en. The comic adventures of a monk and his folkloric companions as they travel west to retrieve the sutras which will save China from immorality.
N - Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman. The anti-Narnia trilogy on why religion is bad.
O - Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Human nature meets loneliness and depression-era capitalism.
P - The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. The life of a libertine, to be read on the surface and between the lines.
Q - The Qur'an (or Koran). Take the first step in understanding the cultural influence of this 7th century contribution to the Abrahamic faiths by reading the original.
R - A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. Short treatise on how the burden of unpaid domestic labour impacts the artist.
S - Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Why war is stupid, from someone who knows.
T - Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake. This baroque fantasy, with its lush prose and weird cast makes David Lynch seem vanilla.
U - Utopia by Thomas More. 16th century sci-fi set on an island and examining what a progressive society might look like.
V - A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. This won the Pulitzer. Why? No one knows. Read this to learn how out-of-touch the establishment truly is.
W - Watership Down by Richard Adams. If you’ve never wept over the fate of rabbits, start now.
X - Sonnet XXV by Bill Shakespeare. A modest, cheerful sonnet reminding us love is better than glory.
Y - The Yellow Wall-paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Novella featuring a woman driven mad by a rest cure, a decorative scheme, and the patriarchy.
Z - Thus Spake Zarathustra by Nietzsche. Just kidding. Don’t read Nietzsche.