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The Tale of Genji
Murasaki Shikibu, Royall Tyler
She Rises
Kate Worsley
The Machine Stops - E.M. Forster I love these little classics. It contains two short stories - The Machine Stops and The Celestial Omnibus.

The Machine Stops is set in a dystopian world where human being live in self contained hexagonal rooms with buttons that control everything from music, to night and day, food, the air they breath and perhaps even the thoughts they think. They rarely leave their "homes" and talk through screens, rarely actually meeting each other in the flesh.

It sounds like a metaphor for modern day cyberspace - watching 'lectures' that talk about ideas and information that has gone through so many people that no one ever experiences anything unique or original for themselves. People communicating via Skype and social networks that can connect you to hundreds of people that you will probably never meet. Only getting an electrical approximation of their voice and facial features that never really make up for hanging out with someone in the flesh. Society has become so dependent on their computers and the internet - to do our shopping, to read about what's going on in the world, to keep in touch with friends and family.

All this is covered in The Machine Stops. The only thing is that it was published in 1928, a long time before anyone could have guessed what the Internet has become now.

The second short story 'The Celestial Omnibus' is quite a fun story. It is about a young boy who has recently discovered the joys of the literary world and encounters a fantastical omnibus that takes him across into this world filled with all these fictional characters that fill him with passion and wonder. Yet when he returns, the adults see literature only as dusty old volumes that ought to be studied for literary merit rather then enjoyment.

I really like these mini Penguin Classics. They're a good way to just dip into an author and out again. Plus they're only £3.