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The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, and Civilization by Martin Puchner - Book Review

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$20.00
ISBN: 9780812988277
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Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - July 24th, 2018

In this impressive history, stretching from the advent of agricultural civilization to the age of Harry Potter, Puchner demonstrates how the story of literature and the story of human development are inextricably linked. Every book you pick up today is built upon a boundless heritage of culture, passed from generation to generation, absorbing the character of each along the way. Dig in and learn about the most human art there is: the act of telling a story. ~ Reviewed by Digby Baker-Porazinski


The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo - Book Review

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By Victor Hugo, Isabel F. Hapgood (Translated by)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781645171782
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Published: Canterbury Classics - April 14th, 2020

How do you make a burst of laughter, or a column of teardrops, echo across two hundred years? This seems to be a talent of Victor Hugo, who wrote Notre Dame (along with Les Miserables and Les Contemplations) in the early 19th century, and made me both laugh and cry in public in 2019. This masterpiece features many unforgettable characters: the fragile and self-obsessed Gringoire, the ambitious and conniving Frollo, the ditzy Phoebus, the pure Esmeralda, and—it goes without saying—Quasimodo, the bellringer with a heart of gold. There are dozens of modern adaptations through which to experience the story, but take it from me: do not miss out on the original novel. ~ Reviewed by Digby Baker-Porazinski


The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio - Book Review

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By Giovanni Boccaccio, Wayne A. Rebhorn (Translated by)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780393350265
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - December 8th, 2014

At the height of a deadly pandemic, a lively group of friends flee to the countryside to wait out the worst of the plague in isolation. Sound familiar? Written in the 14th century, this massive collection of stories cemented Boccaccio’s seat among the greatest writers in history, and its relevance has only grown in recent years. The delightful tales contained in The Decameron bounce from properly pious to ridiculously raunchy at the drop of a hat. Perfect reading for the socially distant. ~ Reviewed by Digby Baker-Porazinski


The Golden Mean: A Novel of Aristotle and Alexander the Great by Annabel Lyon - Book Review

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$15.95
ISBN: 9780307740687
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Published: Vintage - September 6th, 2011

Annabel Lyon resurrects the world of ancient Macedon in The Golden Mean, which follows the Greek philosopher Aristotle as he struggles to educate his most difficult pupil yet: the young prince Alexander, who will be known to history as Alexander the Great. With an eye for detail, meticulous research, and mastery of descriptive language, Lyon tackles difficult themes and dark realities with grace. This book revels in the sheer wonder of nature’s arithmetic, and surprised me time and again with its depth of feeling. ~ Reviewed by Digby Baker-Porazinski


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