The Best 21st Century eBooks




What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets
by Michael J. Sandel
What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets

Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars? Auctioning admission to elite universities? Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?
In What Money Can't Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don't belong? What are the moral limits of markets?
In recent decades, market values have crowded out nonmarket norms in almost every aspect of life-medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations. Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. Is this where we want to be?
In his New York Times bestseller Justice, Sandel showed himself to be a master at illuminating, with clarity and verve, the hard moral questions we confront in our everyday lives. Now, in What Money Can't Buy, he provokes an essential discussion that we, in our market-driven age, need to have: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society-and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets don't honor and that money can't buy?


 



End This Depression Now!
by Paul Krugman
End This Depression Now!

The Great Recession is more than four years old — and counting. Yet, as Paul Krugman points out in this powerful volley, "Nations rich in resources, talent, and knowledge — all the ingredients for prosperity and a decent standard of living for all — remain in a state of intense pain."

How bad have things gotten? How did we get stuck in what now can only be called a depression? And above all, how do we free ourselves? Krugman pursues these questions with his characteristic lucidity and insight. He has a powerful message for anyone who has suffered over these past four years — a quick, strong recovery is just one step away, if our leaders can find the "intellectual clarity and political will" to end this depression now.


 



Narcopolis
by Jeet Thayil
Narcopolis

Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay. In Rashid's opium room the air is thick and potent. A beautiful young woman leans to hold a long-stemmed pipe over a flame, her hair falling across her dark eyes. Around her, men sprawl and mutter in the gloom, each one drifting with his own tide. Here, people say that you introduce only your worst enemy to opium.

Outside, stray dogs lope in packs. Street vendors hustle. Hookers call for custom through the bars of their cages as their pimps slouch in doorways in the half-light. There is an underworld whisper of a new terror: the Pathar Maar, the stone killer, whose victims are the nameless, invisible poor. There are too many of them to count in this broken city.

Narcopolis is a rich, chaotic, hallucinatory dream of a novel that captures the Bombay of the 1970s in all its compelling squalor. With a cast of pimps, pushers, poets, gangsters and eunuchs, it is a journey into a sprawling underworld written in electric and utterly original prose.


 



The Patrick Melrose Novels
by Edward St. Aubyn
The Patrick Melrose Novels

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

An Atlantic Magazine Best Book of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

“The Melrose Novels are a masterwork for the twenty-first century, written by one of the great prose stylists in England.” — Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones

For more than twenty years, acclaimed author Edward St. Aubyn has chronicled the life of Patrick Melrose, painting an extraordinary portrait of the beleaguered and self-loathing world of privilege. This single volume collects the first four novels — Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother’s Milk, a Man Booker finalist — to coincide with the publication of At Last, the final installment of this unique novel cycle.

By turns harrowing and hilarious, these beautifully written novels dissect the English upper class as we follow Patrick Melrose’s story from child abuse to heroin addiction and recovery. Never Mind, the first novel, unfolds over a day and an evening at the family’s chateaux in the south of France, where the sadistic and terrifying figure of David Melrose dominates the lives of his five-year-old son, Patrick, and his rich and unhappy American mother, Eleanor. From abuse to addiction, the second novel, Bad News opens as the twenty-two-year-old Patrick sets off to collect his father’s ashes from New York, where he will spend a drug-crazed twenty-four hours. And back in England, the third novel, Some Hope, offers a sober and clean Patrick the possibility of recovery. The fourth novel, the Booker-shortlisted Mother’s Milk, returns to the family chateau, where Patrick, now married and a father himself, struggles with child rearing, adultery, his mother’s desire for assisted suicide, and the loss of the family home to a New Age foundation.

Edward St. Aubyn offers a window into a world of utter decadence, amorality, greed, snobbery, and cruelty — welcome to the declining British aristocracy.


 



Bossypants
by Tina Fey
Bossypants

Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update, " before "Sarah Palin, " Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)


 



The Angel Esmeralda
by Don DeLillo
The Angel Esmeralda

From one of the greatest writers of our time, his first collection of short stories, written between 1979 and 2011, chronicling — and foretelling — three decades of American life

Set in Greece, the Caribbean, Manhattan, a white-collar prison and outer space, these nine stories are a mesmerizing introduction to Don DeLillo’s iconic voice, from the rich, startling, jazz-infused rhythms of his early work to the spare, distilled, monastic language of the later stories.

In “Creation,” a couple at the end of a cruise somewhere in the West Indies can’t get off the island — flights canceled, unconfirmed reservations, a dysfunctional economy. In “Human Moments in World War III,” two men orbiting the earth, charged with gathering intelligence and reporting to Colorado Command, hear the voices of American radio, from a half century earlier. In the title story, Sisters Edgar and Grace, nuns working the violent streets of the South Bronx, confirm the neighborhood’s miracle, the apparition of a dead child, Esmeralda.

Nuns, astronauts, athletes, terrorists and travelers, the characters in The Angel Esmeralda propel themselves into the world and define it. DeLillo’s sentences are instantly recognizable, as original as the splatter of Jackson Pollock or the luminous rectangles of Mark Rothko. These nine stories describe an extraordinary journey of one great writer whose prescience about world events and ear for American language changed the literary landscape.


 



Bossypants
by Tina Fey
Bossypants

Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update, " before "Sarah Palin, " Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)

An unabridged recording on 5 CDs (5. 5 Hours).


 



The Sojourn
by Andrew Krivak
The Sojourn

The Sojourn is the story of Jozef Vinich, who was uprooted from a 19-century mining town in Colorado by a family tragedy and returns with his father to an impoverished shepherd’s life in rural Austria-Hungary. When World War One comes, Jozef joins his adopted brother as a sharpshooter in the Kaiser’s army, surviving a perilous trek across the frozen Italian Alps and capture by a victorious enemy.

A stirring tale of brotherhood, coming-of-age, and survival, that was inspired by the author’s own family history, this novel evokes a time when Czechs, Slovaks, Austrians, and Germans fought on the same side while divided by language, ethnicity, and social class in the most brutal war to date. It is also a poignant tale of fathers and sons, addressing the great immigration to America and the desire to live the American dream amidst the unfolding tragedy in Europe.


 



We, the Drowned
by Carsten Jensen, Charlotte Barslund, Liz Jensen, Emma Ryder
We, the Drowned

It is an epic drama of adventure, courage, ruthlessness and passion by one of Scandinavia’s most acclaimed storytellers.
In 1848 a motley crew of Danish sailors sets sail from the small island town of Marstal to fight the Germans. Not all of them return — and those who do will never be the same. Among them is the daredevil Laurids Madsen, who promptly escapes again into the anonymity of the high seas.
As soon as he is old enough, his son Albert sets off in search of his missing father on a voyage that will take him to the furthest reaches of the globe and into the clutches of the most nefarious company. Bearing a mysterious shrunken head, and plagued by premonitions of bloodshed, he returns to a town increasingly run by women — among them a widow intent on liberating all men from the tyranny of the sea.
From the barren rocks of Newfoundland to the lush plantations of Samoa, from the roughest bars in Tasmania, to the frozen coasts of northern Russia, We, The Drowned spans four generations, two world wars and a hundred years. Carsten Jensen conjures a wise, humorous, thrilling story of fathers and sons, of the women they love and leave behind, and of the sea’s murderous promise. This is a novel destined to take its place among the greatest seafaring literature.


 



The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality
by Richard Panek
The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality

The epic, behind-the-scenes story of an astounding gap in our scientific knowledge of the cosmos.

In the past few years, a handful of scientists have been in a race to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, our books, and every planet, star, and galaxy. The rest — 96 percent of the universe — is completely unknown.

Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this conclusion, and what they’re doing to find this "dark" matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy. Based on in-depth, on-site reporting and hundreds of interviews — with everyone from Berkeley’s feisty Saul Perlmutter and Johns Hopkins’s meticulous Adam Riess to the quietly revolutionary Vera Rubin — the book offers an intimate portrait of the bitter rivalries and fruitful collaborations, the eureka moments and blind alleys, that have fueled their search, redefined science, and reinvented the universe.


 



The Master
by Colm Tóibín
The Master

Like Michael Cunningham in The Hours, Colm Tóibín captures the extraordinary mind and heart of a great writer. Beautiful and profoundly moving, The Master tells the story of a man born into one of America's first intellectual families who leaves his country in the late nineteenth century to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers.
In stunningly resonant prose, Tóibín captures the loneliness and the hope of a master of psychological subtlety whose forays into intimacy inevitably failed those he tried to love. The emotional intensity of this portrait is riveting.


 



Shoplifting from American Apparel
by Tao Lin
Shoplifting from American Apparel

Set mostly in Manhattan — although also featuring Atlantic City, Brooklyn, GMail Chat, and Gainsville, Florida — this autobiographical novella, spanning two years in the life of a young writer with a cultish following, has been described by the author as “A shoplifting book about vague relationships,” “2 parts shoplifting arrest, 5 parts vague relationship issues,” and “An ultimately life-affirming book about how the unidirectional nature of time renders everything beautiful and sad.”

From VIP rooms in hip New York City clubs to central booking in Chinatown, from New York University’ s Bobst Library to a bus in someone’s backyard in a college-town in Florida, from Bret Easton Ellis to Lorrie Moore, and from Moby to Ghost Mice, it explores class, culture, and the arts in all their American forms through the funny, journalistic, and existentially-minded narrative of someone trying to both “not be a bad person” and “find some kind of happiness or something,” while he is driven by his failures and successes at managing his art, morals, finances, relationships, loneliness, confusion, boredom, future, and depression.


 



C
by Tom McCarthy
C

The acclaimed author of Remainder, which Zadie Smith hailed as “one of the great English novels of the past ten years,”gives us his most spectacularly inventive novel yet.
Opening in England at the turn of the twentieth century, C is the story of a boy named Serge Carrefax, whose father spends his time experimenting with wireless communication while running a school for deaf children. Serge grows up amid the noise and silence with his brilliant but troubled older sister, Sophie: an intense sibling relationship that stays with him as he heads off into an equally troubled larger world.
After a fling with a nurse at a Bohemian spa, Serge serves in World War I as a radio operator for reconnaissance planes. When his plane is shot down, Serge is taken to a German prison camp, from which he escapes. Back in London, he’s recruited for a mission to Cairo on behalf of the shadowy Empire Wireless Chain. All of which eventually carries Serge to a fitful — and perhaps fateful — climax at the bottom of an Egyptian tomb…
Only a writer like Tom McCarthy could pull off a story with this effortless historical breadth, psychological insight, and postmodern originality.


 



I Curse the River of Time
by Per Petterson, Charlotte Barslund
I Curse the River of Time

An enthralling novel of a mother and son's turbulent relationship from the author of Out Stealing Horses

Norway, 1989: Communism is unraveling all over Europe. Arvid Jansen, thirty-seven, is trying to bridge the yawning gulf that opened up years earlier between himself and his mother. He is in the throes of a divorce, and she has just been diagnosed with cancer.

Over a few intense autumn days, Arvid struggles to find a new footing in his life. As he attempts to negotiate the present changes around him, he casts his mind back to holidays on the beach with his brothers, and to the early days of his courtship. Most importantly, he revisits the idealism of his communist youth, when he chose the factory floor over the college education his mother had struggled so hard to provide. Back then, Arvid's loyalty to his working-class background outweighed his mother's wish for him to escape it.

As Petterson's masterful narrative shifts effortlessly through the years, we see Arvid tentatively circling his mother, unable to tell her what she already knows he is thinking. In its piercing portrait of their layered relationship, I Curse the River of Time bears all the hallmarks of Petterson's compassion for humanity that has won him readers the world over.


 



Solar
by Ian McEwan
Solar

The literary event of the season: a new novel from Ian McEwan, as surprising as it is masterful.

Michael Beard is a Nobel prize–winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions, and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. While he coasts along in his professional life, Michael’s personal life is another matter entirely. His fifth marriage is crumbling under the weight of his infidelities. But this time the tables are turned: His wife is having an affair, and Michael realizes he is still in love with her.

When Michael’s personal and professional lives begin to intersect in unexpected ways, an opportunity presents itself in the guise of an invitation to travel to New Mexico. Here is a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster. Can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?

A complex novel that brilliantly traces the arc of one man’s ambitions and self-deceptions, Solar is a startling, witty, and stylish new work from one of the world’s great writers.


 



Point Omega
by Don DeLillo
Point Omega

In the middle of a desert "somewhere south of nowhere" to a forlorn house made of metal and clapboard a secret war advisor has gone in search of space and time. Richard Elster, seventy-three, was a scholar, "an outsider" when he was called to a meeting with government war planners. They asked Elster to conceptualize their efforts to form an intellectual framework for their troop deployments — counterinsurgency orders for rendition. For two years he read their classified documents and attended secret meetings. He was to map the reality these men were trying to create."Bulk and swagger" he called it. At the end of his service Elster retreats to the desert where he is joined by a filmmaker intent on documenting his experience. Jim Finley wants to make a one-take film, Elster its single character."Just a man against a wall." The two men sit on the deck drinking and talking. Finley makes the case for his film. Weeks go by. And then Elster's daughter Jessie visits an "otherworldly" woman from New York who dramatically alters the dynamic of the story. When a devastating event follows all the men's talk, the accumulated meaning of conversation and connection is thrown into question. What is left is loss, fierce and incomprehensible.


 



The Pregnant Widow
by Martin Amis
The Pregnant Widow

The 1960s, as is well known, saw the launch of the sexual revolution, which radically affected the lives of every Westerner fortunate enough to be born after the Second World War. But a revolution is a revolution — contingent and sanguinary. In the words of the Russian thinker Alexander Herzen: The death of the contemporary forms of social order ought to gladden rather than trouble the soul. Yet what is frightening is that what the departing world leaves behind it is not an heir but a pregnant widow. Between the death of the one and the birth of the other, much water will flow by, a long night of chaos and desolation will pass. In many senses, including the literal, it was a velvet revolution; but it wasn't bloodless. Nor was it complete. Even today, in 2009, the pregnancy is still in its second trimester. Martin Amis, in The Pregnant Widow, takes as his control experiment a long, hot summer holiday in a castle in Italy, where half a dozen young lives are afloat on the sea change of 1970. The result is a tragicomedy of manners, combining the wit of Money with the historical sense of Time's Arrow and House of Meetings.

It was summer 1970 — a long, hot summer. In a castle in Italy, half a dozen young lives are afloat on the sea of change, trapped inside the history of the sexual revolution. The girls are acting like boys, and the boys are going on acting like boys, and Keith Nearing — twenty years old, a literature student all clogged up with the English novel — is struggling to twist feminism and the rise of women towards his own ends. The sexual revolution may have been a velvet revolution (in at least two senses), but it wasn't bloodless — and now, in the twenty-first century, the year 1970 finally catches up with Keith Nearing."The Pregnant Widow" is a comedy of manners and a nightmare, brilliant, haunting and gloriously risque. It is the most eagerly anticipated novel of the year and Martin Amis at his fearless best.

About the Author

Martin Amis is the author of ten novels, the memoir Experience, two collections of stories and six collections of non-fiction, most recently The Second Plane. He lives in London.


 



Quicksand
by Steve Toltz
Quicksand

A daring, brilliant new novel from Man Booker Prize finalist Steve Toltz, for fans of Dave Eggers, Martin Amis, and David Foster Wallace: a fearlessly funny, outrageously inventive dark comedy about two lifelong friends.

Liam is a struggling writer and a failing cop. Aldo, his best friend and muse, is a haplessly criminal entrepreneur with an uncanny knack for disaster. As Aldo's luck worsens, Liam is inspired to base his next book on his best friend's exponential misfortunes and hopeless quest to win back his one great love: his ex-wife, Stella. What begins as an attempt to make sense of Aldo's mishaps spirals into a profound story of faith and friendship.

With the same originality and buoyancy that catapulted his first novel, A Fraction of the Whole, onto prize lists around the world — including shortlists for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award — Steve Toltz has created a rousing, hysterically funny but unapologetically dark satire about fate, faith, friendship, and the artist's obligation to his muse. Sharp, witty, kinetic, and utterly engrossing, Quicksand is a subversive portrait of twenty-first-century society in all its hypocrisy and absurdity.


 



The Wolf Border
by Sarah Hall
The Wolf Border

The award-winning author of The Electric Michelangelo returns with her first novel in nearly six years, a literary masterpiece about the reintroduction of wild wolves into the United Kingdom.

She hears them howling along the buffer zone, a long harmonic.
One leading, then many.
At night there is no need to imagine, no need to dream.
They reign outside the mind.

Rachel Caine is a zoologist working in Nez Perce, Idaho, as part of a wolf recovery project. She spends her days, and often nights, tracking the every move of a wild wolf pack — their size, their behavior, their howl patterns. It is a fairly solitary existence, but Rachel is content.

When she receives a call from the wealthy and mysterious Earl of Annerdale, who is interested in reintroducing the grey wolf to Northern England, Rachel agrees to a meeting. She is certain she wants no part of this project, but the Earl's estate is close to the village where Rachel grew up, and where her aging mother now lives in a care facility. It has been far too long since Rachel has gone home, and so she returns to face the ghosts of her past.

The Wolf Border is a breathtaking story about the frontier of the human spirit, from one of the most celebrated young writers working today.


 






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