Dune by Frank Herbert (1965). Winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, and one of the best-selling works in science fiction history, Dune is a Shakespearean drama set on a withered planet. Conflict centers on Melange, a miraculous substance that extends life, grants psychic powers, and makes space travel possible.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952). A retelling of Cain and Abel set in California’s Salinas Valley between the Civil War and World War I, this novel takes off when Adam Trask realizes that maybe he shouldn’t have married the lovely yet soulless prostitute Cathy Ames: on their wedding night she betrays him with his brother.
Edisto by Padget Powell (1984). Imbued with a strong sense of place—an isolated strip of South Carolina coast called Edisto—this novel centers on one Simons Everson Manigault, a twelve-year-old possessed of a vocabulary and sophistication way beyond his years and a preadolescent bewilderment with the behavior of adults.
Edwin Mullhouse : The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943-1954 by Jeffrey Cartwright by Steven Millhauser (1972).
Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates (1962). Yates’s debut collection set the tone for what his career would bring: quiet, well-crafted stories and novels about people whose dearest hopes were thwarted, often by their own inability to realize them. Unrelentingly realistic in setting and subject matter, Yates repudiates any easy redemption in these stories.
Embers by Sándor Márai (1942). Henrik, a nobleman of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Konrad, a humble man with ambition, became best friends in military school. They remained inseparable, even after Henrik married Konrad’s friend. Then, one night, their relationship ruptured.
Emma by Jane Austen (1816). The story of Miss Woodhouse—busybody, know-it-all, and general relationship enthusiast—is a comedy of manners deftly laced with social criticism. The charm largely inheres in Emma’s imperfections: her slightly spoiled maneuverings, her highly fallible matchmaking, her inability to know her own heart. Emma teeters from lovable one moment to tiresome and self-centered the next.
Enemies, A Love Story by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1972). Herman Broder, who survived World War II by hiding in a hayloft for three years, marries the woman who hid him, and he now lives a life of duplicity in 1949 Brooklyn—having an affair, pretending to be a traveling book salesman while really ghostwriting for a rabbi.
Essays by Michel de Montaigne (1533-92). Reflections by the creator of the essay form, display the humane, skeptical, humorous, and honest views of Montaigne, revealing his thoughts on sexuality, religion, cannibals, intellectuals, and other unexpected themes. His most celebrated pieces include "On Solitude," "To Philosophize Is to Learn How to Die," and "On Experience."
Eugénie Grandet by Honoré de Balzac (1833). Part of Balzac’s almost endless La Comédie humaine, Eugénie Grandet is his masterwork on the virus of greed and miserliness. Felix Grandet, a French millionaire, tyrannizes his family with his frugality, going so far as to personally measure the ingredients for each day’s meals.