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Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen’s first novel, Northanger Abbey—published posthumously in 1818—tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen’s fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey,...

A Lady of Quality

A Lady of Quality is a novel published in 1896 by Frances Hodgson Burnett that was the second highest best-selling book in the United States in 1896. It was the first of series of successful historical novels by Burnett.

Villette

Villette is a novel by Charlotte Brontë, published in 1853. After an unspecified family disaster, protagonist Lucy Snowe travels to the fictional city of Villette to teach at an all-girls school where she is unwillingly pulled into both adventure and romance. The novel is celebrated not so much for its plot as its acute tracing of...

The Great Gatsby

In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple + intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best...

The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850, is an American novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and is generally considered to be his magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth after committing adultery, refuses to name the father, and struggles to create a new life of repentance...

The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence centers on one society couple's impending marriage and the introduction of a scandalous woman whose presence threatens their happiness. Though the novel questions the assumptions and mores of turn of the century New York society, it never devolves into an outright condemnation of the institution. In fact, Wharton...

Walden

Walden (also known as Life in the Woods) by Henry David Thoreau is one of the best-known non-fiction books written by an American. Published in 1854, it details Thoreau's life for two years and two months in second-growth forest around the shores of Walden Pond, not far from his friends and family in Concord, Massachusetts. Walden was...

Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary scandalized its readers when it was first published in 1857. And the story itself remains as fresh today as when it was first written, a work that remains unsurpassed in its unveiling of character and society. It tells the tragic story of the romantic but empty-headed Emma Rouault. When Emma marries Charles Bovary, she...

Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Young Tess Durbeyfield attempts to restore her family's fortunes by claiming their connection with the aristocratic d'Urbervilles. But Alec d'Urberville is a rich wastrel who seduces her and makes her life miserable. When Tess meets Angel Clare, she is offered true love and happiness, but her past catches up with her and she faces an...

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (often shortened to Huck Finn) is a novel written by American humorist Mark Twain. It is commonly used and accounted as one of the first Great American Novels. It is also one of the first major American novels written using Local Color Regionalism, or vernacular, told in the first person by the eponymous...

Vanity Fair

“I think I could be a good woman, if I had five thousand a year,” observes beautiful and clever Becky Sharp, one of the wickedest—and most appealing—women in all of literature. Becky is just one of the many fascinating figures that populate William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel Vanity Fair, a wonderfully satirical panorama of...

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontë's only novel. It was first published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, and a posthumous second edition was edited by her sister Charlotte. The name of the novel comes from the Yorkshire manor on the moors on which the story centres (as an adjective, wuthering is a Yorkshire word referring to...

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde's story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is one of his most popular works. Written in Wilde's characteristically dazzling manner, full of stinging epigrams and shrewd observations, the tale of Dorian Gray's moral disintegration caused something of a scandal when it first appeared in...

The Iliad & The Odyssey

While Homer's existence as a historical person is still a topic of debate, the writings attributed to the name have made their mark not only on Greek history and literature, but upon western civilization itself. Homer's epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey, laid the foundation upon which Ancient Greece developed not only its culture,...

Pygmalion

The story of Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics who makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering that he can successfully pass off a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, as a refined society lady by teaching her how to speak with an upper class accent and training her in etiquette. In the process, Higgins and Eliza grow close,...

The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage is an 1895 war novel by American author Stephen Crane. It is considered one of the most influential works in American literature. The novel, a depiction on the cruelty of the American Civil War, features a young recruit who overcomes initial fears to become a hero on the battlefield. The book made Crane an...

The Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare. It was one of his earlier plays, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1594. The play begins with a framing device in which a drunkard is deceived into thinking he is a nobleman who then watches the "play" itself, which depicts a nobleman, Petruchio, who marries an...

The Beautiful and the Damned

The novel provides a portrait of the Eastern elite during the Jazz Age, exploring New York Café Society. As with his other novels, Fitzgerald's characters are complex, especially in their marriage and intimacy, much like how he treats intimacy in Tender Is the Night. The book is believed to be largely based on Fitzgerald's relationship...

The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis (German: Die Verwandlung) is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed into a "monstrous vermin".

The Island of Dr. Moreau

Edward Prendick is shipwrecked in the Pacific. Rescued by Doctor Moreau's assistant he is taken to the doctor's island home where he discovers the doctor has been experimenting on the animal inhabitants of the island, creating bizarre proto-humans...

The Yellow Wallpaper

"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a 6,000-word short story by American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in January 1892 in New England Magazine. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature, illustrating attitudes in the 19th century toward women's physical and mental health. The story is written in...

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre, the story of a young girl and her passage into adulthood, was an immediate commercial success at the time of its original publication in 1847. Its representation of the underside of domestic life and the hypocrisy behind religious enthusiasm drew both praise and bitter criticism, while Charlotte Brontë's striking expose of...

The Gift of the Magi

Jim Dillingham Young and his wife Della are a young couple who are very much in love with each other, but can barely afford their one-room apartment opposite the elevated train due to their very bad economic condition. For Christmas, Della decides to buy Jim a chain which costs twenty dollars for his prized pocket watch given to him by...

Candide

Candide, ou l'Optimisme (1759) is a French satire by the Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire, English translations of which have been titled Candide: Or, All for the Best (1759); Candide: Or, The Optimist (1762); and Candide: Or, Optimism (1947). The novella begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic...

The Aeneid of Virgil (I-VI)

The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem written by Virgil in the 1st century BC (between 29 and 19 BC) that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is written in dactylic hexameter. The first six of the poem's twelve books tell the story of Aeneas' wanderings from Troy...

Little Brother

Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems. But his whole world changes when he and his friends...

The Portrait of a Lady

One of the great heroines of American literature, Isabel Archer, journeys to Europe in order to, as Henry James writes in his 1908 Preface, “affront her destiny.” James began The Portrait of a Lady without a plot or subject, only the slim but provocative notion of a young woman taking control of her fate. The result is a richly...

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo (French: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo) is an adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. It is often considered, along with The Three Musketeers, as Dumas' most popular work. It is also among the highest selling books of all time. The writing of the work was completed in 1844. Like many of his novels, it is expanded...

The Tell-Tale Heart

"The Tell-Tale Heart" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe first published in 1843. It follows an unnamed narrator who insists on his sanity after murdering an old man with a "vulture eye". The murder is carefully calculated, and the murderer hides the body by cutting it into pieces and hiding it under the floorboards. Ultimately the...