by John Williams (1965). A wonderful sparse, almost existentialist novel of the unremarkable life of a professor of English at a Midwestern University. Stoner, the protagonist who is drawn very sympathetically, leads a tightly constrained life, moving from a poor farmer’s upbringing to the modest poverty of an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, constrained by early 20-th century rural morals. Stoner never leaves the small university town, marries very unhappily, raises one daughter whom his wife deliberately estranges from him, has one passionate love affair, aspires to be a good teacher to his students, and dies of cancer shortly before his retirement. This gem of a novel, little known, is about the quintessential academic life (brought out in the New York Review of Books Classic series.