Murakami takes the reader through a surreal series of events, grounded in beautifully descriptive realism. The story follows a young man whose bizarre quest takes him through the urban and rural sprawl of Japan, where he encounters one unusual character after another. The quirkiness of the story shines through as Murakami masterfully blends Japanese and American literary styles to create a wonderfully accessible narrative.
Perfect if you like: mystery novels, black coffee, road trips, and sheep taxonomy.
This collection of stories, recipes, and menus was a long-forgotten project of the Works Progress Administration until Kurlansky went digging in the Library of Congress. Published in 2009, well after the end of the Federal Writers’ Project, this book is a snapshot of regional American food in the first part of the 20th century. From "Coca-Cola Parties in Georgia" to "An Oregon Protest against Mashed Potatoes," this book covers it all.
Perfect if you like: Julie and Julia, Michael Pollan, cookbooks.
This novel unravels the hectic and riveting rise of the modern department store in late 19th-century Paris, following the intertwined lives of 20-year-old saleswoman Denise Baudu and department store entrepreneur Octave Mouret.
Perfect if you like: Paris, fashion, Mr. Selfridge on PBS
Wilkerson offers a window into the Great Migration of black citizens from the South to the North in this captivating Pulitzer Prize–winning novel. This selection was chosen to complement the exhibition They Seek a City.
Perfect if you like: American history, local history, and compelling characters
An ambitious response to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra, Shaw's non-traditional take on a classic story of statecraft enhances our understanding of the great tale pictured in 14 of the exhibition's tapestries.
The Battle of Actium (detail), c. 1680. After a design by Justus van Egmont. Produced at the workshop of Willem van Leefdael. Flanders, Brussels. Gift of Mrs. Chauncey McCormick and Mrs. Richard Ely Danielson.
This collection of short, witty fables draws on a variety of sources, from the familiar stories of Aesop to the more obscure tales of Phaedrus. Written at the same time that many of the tapestries in The Divine Art were being woven, the fables reflect the values and ideals of 17th-century Europe.
Perfect if you like: bawdy humor, poetry, or bite-sized sections
One of the most widely-known pieces of noir fiction, this hard-boiled novel was written just three years before Hopper painted the iconic Nighthawks. Laconic and stoic, Chandler's protagonist is perfectly suited to the life portrayed by Hopper in this comprehensive exhibition.
Perfect if you like: snappy dialogue, rough-and-tumble characters, or mysteries
Written during Homer's lifetime, this novel about life in rural Maine is widely considered to be Jewett's greatest work. The themes of hardship and isolation in Jewett's fishing villages echo the tone found in many of Homer's watercolors, making the novel an ideal accompaniment to this breathtaking exhibition.
Perfect if you like: character development, elegant description, or short stories