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Audrey Niffenegger

The Bird Artist by Howard Norman (Picador, $14). This 1994 novel is quirky (there is no other word) and beautiful. It concerns Fabian Vas, the bird artist of the title, and wonderful, odd Margaret, a woman who always asks questions most people wouldn’t. There’s a murder and a lighthouse, and it’s set in Newfoundland. Just read it, though; this description is too reductive to convey all the strangeness of the thing.
Buy it at Amazon.com

Nana, Diva, Luna, Lola, Vida, and Alba by Delacorta (out of print). The 1981 movie Diva was made from a book in this series about con artist Serge Gorodish and his teenage protégé Alba. These are tasty, trashy, exuberant books, with memorable characters who do the things we all want to do—and always get away with it.

No Place on Earth by Christa Wolf (out of print). An imagined conversation between the poet Karoline von Günderrode and the writer Heinrich von Kleist. Set in 1804, it is a perfect evocation of alienation, expressed through the meeting of two like minds.
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Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey (Vintage, $14). Francis Orme, the narrator of this book, is one of the great characters of recent fiction. An original thinker with obsessive-compulsive disorder, Francis steals other people’s loved possessions to add to his own private museum. The list of the museum’s objects at the back of the book is a puzzle of the first order.
Buy it at Amazon.com

Easy Travel to Other Planets by Ted Mooney (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $21). A female marine biologist and a dolphin named Peter fall in love in a flooded house. There’s more to it than that, but isn’t that enough to make you want to read it?
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Diaries of Franz Kafka 1914–1923

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