On being alone: the art and the meditation on converting loneliness to solitude

Being alone is a gift and a curse. Characters in these books struggle and sometimes accept the silence that is both redemptive and challenging.
The Year of Magical Thinking
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The Year of Magical Thinking

by Joan Didion

About the book:  From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage--and a life, in good times and bad--that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.

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An Experiment in Love
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An Experiment in Love

by Hilary Mantel

About the book:  A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year It was the year after Chappaquiddick, and all spring Carmel McBain had watery dreams about the disaster. Now she, Karina, and Julianne were escaping the dreary English countryside for a London University hall of residence. Interspersing accounts of her current position as a university student with recollections of her childhood and an ever difficult relationship with her longtime schoolmate Karina, Carmel reflects on a generation of girls desiring the power of men, but fearful of abandoning what is expected and proper. When these bright but confused young women land in late 1960s London, they are confronted with a slew of new preoccupations--sex, politics, food, and fertility--and a pointless grotesque tragedy of their own. Hilary Mantel's magnificent novel examines the pressures on women during the early days of contemporary feminism to excel--but not be too successful--in England's complex hierarchy of class and status.

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A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition
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A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition

by Ernest Hemingway

About the book:  Ernest Hemingway’s classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, now available in a restored edition, includes the original manuscript along with insightful recollections and unfinished sketches. Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway’s most enduring works. Since Hemingway’s personal papers were released in 1979, scholars have examined the changes made to the text before publication. Now, this special restored edition presents the original manuscript as the author prepared it to be published. Featuring a personal Foreword by Patrick Hemingway, Ernest’s sole surviving son, and an Introduction by grandson of the author, Seán Hemingway, editor of this edition, the book also includes a number of unfinished, never-before-published Paris sketches revealing experiences that Hemingway had with his son, Jack, and his first wife Hadley. Also included are irreverent portraits of literary luminaries, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ford Maddox Ford, and insightful recollections of Hemingway’s own early experiments with his craft. Widely celebrated and debated by critics and readers everywhere, the restored edition of A Moveable Feast brilliantly evokes the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the unbridled creativity and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.

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The Lonely City
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The Lonely City

by Olivia Laing

About the book:  What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we're not intimately engaged with another human being? How do we connect with other people? When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Fascinated by the experience, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between works and lives - from Edward Hopper's Nighthawks to Andy Warhol's Time Capsules, from Henry Darger's hoarding to David Wojnarowicz's AIDS activism - Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed. Humane, provocative and deeply moving, The Lonely City is about the spaces between people and the things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. It's a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive.

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Pan
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Pan

by Knut Hamsun

About the book:  Hamsun’s portrait of a man rejecting the claims of bourgeois society for a Rousseauian embrace of Nature and Eros, in a remarkable new translation.

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To the Lighthouse
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To the Lighthouse

by Virginia Woolf

About the book:  To the Lighthouse is a 1927 novel by Virginia Woolf. A landmark of high modernism, the novel centres on the Ramsays and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920. Following and extending the tradition of modernist novelists like Marcel Proust and James Joyce, the plot of To the Lighthouse is secondary to its philosophical introspection. The novel includes little dialogue and almost no action; most of it is written as thoughts and observations. The novel recalls childhood emotions and highlights adult relationships. Among the book's many tropes and themes are those of loss, subjectivity, and the problem of perception. In 1998, the Modern Library named To the Lighthouse No. 15 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.In 2005, the novel was chosen byTIME magazine as one of the one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to present.

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
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What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

by Raymond Carver

About the book:  In his second collection, including the iconic and much-referenced title story featured in the Academy Award-winning film Birdman, Carver establishes his reputation as one of the most celebrated short-story writers in American literature—a haunting meditation on love, loss, and companionship, and finding one’s way through the dark.

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Love Letters to the Dead
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Love Letters to the Dead

by Ava Dellaira

About the book:  Sometimes the best letters are the ones that go unanswered It begins as an assignment for English class: write a letter to a dead person - any dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain - he died young, and so did Laurel's sister May - so maybe he'll understand a bit of what Laurel is going through. Soon Laurel is writing letters to lots of dead people - Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart... it's like she can't stop. And she'd certainly never dream of handing them in to her teacher. She writes about what it's like going to a new high school, meeting new friends, falling in love for the first time - and how her family has shattered since May died. But much as Laurel might find writing the letters cathartic, she can't keep real life out forever. The ghosts of her past won't be contained between the lines of a page, and she will have to come to terms with growing up, the agony of losing a beloved sister, and the realisation that only you can shape your destiny. A lyrical, haunting and stunning debut from the protégé of Stephen Chbosky (THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER).

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An Unnecessary Woman
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An Unnecessary Woman

by Rabih Alameddine

About the book:  An obsessive introvert in Beirut, eschewed by her family and neighbors for her divorced status and lack of religious reverence, quietly translates favorite books into Arabic while struggling with her aging body until an unthinkable disaster threatens what little life remains to her. By the best-selling author of The Hakawati. 20,000 first printing.

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An Answer from the Silence
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An Answer from the Silence

by Max Frisch

About the book:  This novel by esteemed Swiss writer Max Frisch is an exploration of the question: “Why don’t we live when we know we’re here just this one time, just one single, unrepeatable time in this unutterably magnificent world?!” This outcry against the emptiness of ordinary everyday life uttered by the hero of Frisch’s book is countered by “an answer from the silence” he meets when face-to-face with death. When An Answer from the Silence begins, the protagonist has just turned thirty and is engaged to be married and about to start work as a teacher. Frightened by the idea of settling down, he journeys to the Alps in a do-or-die effort to climb the unclimbed North Ridge, and by doing so prove he is not ordinary. But having reached the top he returns not in triumph, but in frostbitten shock, having come dangerously close to death. This highly personal early novel reflects a crisis in Frisch’s own life, and perhaps because of this intimate connection, he refused to allow it to be included in his Collected Works in the 1970s. Now available in English, this distinctive book will thrill fans of Frisch’s other works.

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