A list by Byron Johnson
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Byron Johnson
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Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Composed in English and published in 1958, two years before Nigeria declared independence, Things Fall Apart was the first African novel to attain a wide international readership. It is a short, sparely told tale that nevertheless embraces themes of enormous import: fate and will, the determining i...show more
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
It's hilarious and provides an interesting perspective.
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The Bible
It is more than a book. It is the very word of God.
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Friday Night Lights
H. G. Bissinger
This speaks to many rural communities. They don't have much but they do have their passion for local sports.
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Goodnight Moon
Margaret Wise Brown, pictures by Clement Hurd
I read this to my son often.
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Ender's Game
Orson Scott Card
My favorite novel. I have read this book at least once year since I was twelve.
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A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
Fantastic Christmas story
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The Firm
John Grisham
There are times in our reading lives when turning the page is more important than what’s on it, when the headlong rush toward what happens next overwhelms reflection—and sometimes even reason. John Grisham has made a career creating plots that deliver just such pleasure to readers. In his writing, G...show more
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Dune
Frank Herbert
Inspired by a visit to the famed sand dunes of Oregon, Herbert delved into research on environmental science and related matters as he began to chart the long, complex backstory of his epic, which ultimately came to span some twenty-one thousand years of future history. Through canny and judicious t...show more
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Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
What people can’t get in the technologically determined society of Aldous Huxley’s imagined future are family, religion, literature, art, individuality, love, or a genuinely human relationship of any sort. In this brave new world, poverty, conflict, and unhappiness have all been eliminated by way of...show more
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To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is near the top of the list of most-beloved American novels. Set in Depression-era Alabama, it is the story of six-year-old Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout; her older brother, Jeremy, nicknamed Jem; and their father, Atticus Finch, a middle-aged lawyer who...show more
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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
C. S. Lewis
Sent away from London during Second World War, the four Pevensie children are taken in by a professor who lives in a very large house in the country. On the first day of exploring their new abode, little Lucy discovers a mirror-fronted wardrobe in an otherwise bare room; creeping into it, she crosse...show more
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The Call of the Wild
Jack London
Like Buck, the big dog that is this book’s protagonist, the reader of The Call of the Wild is swiftly and irrevocably swept from the “sun-kissed” world of its opening pages into a realm of elemental and unsparing experience. A favorite of his owner, Buck has known a placid, even pampered life in Cal...show more
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The Prince
Niccolò Machiavelli
Published five years after its author’s death, The Prince advanced a revolutionary theory of statecraft. The traditional view of governance held that a ruler earned the respect and obedience of his subjects by ruling virtuously. But the principle at the heart of The Prince is that virtue as such has...show more
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1984
George Orwell
Even now, six decades after it was written and more than a quarter century after its titular year has come and gone, 1984 continues to haunt us with its aura of pernicious possibility. Orwell’s warning of a spiritless, totalitarian time to come has lost none of its relevance. It would be hard to nam...show more
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
J. K. Rowling
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.” So, modestly, J. K. Rowling opens t...show more
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Macbeth
William Shakespeare
From the opening scene, in which three witches enter in thunder and lightning to invoke occult spirits in menacing rhymes, Macbeth inhabits a dark world of omens and hallucinatory visions. Impelled by the witches’ prophecies, a military hero pursues a murderous course to the Scottish throne, only to...show more
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Hamlet
William Shakespeare
The first of his mature tragedies, Hamlet is also Shakespeare’s longest play. Animated with what seems an endless supply of indelible phrases—from “brevity is the soul of wit” and “to the manner born” to “the lady doth protest too much” and “to thine own self be true”—its more than four thousand lin...show more
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The Hobbit
J. R. R. Tolkien
In the late 1920s, J. R. R. Tolkien, a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, scribbled a sentence while correcting some student papers: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Those ten words are the seed from which grew a complex and elaborate mythology that would captivate the ima...show more
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The Lord of the Rings
J. R. R. Tolkien
Appearing in three separate volumes between July 1954 and October 1955, The Lord of the Rings constitutes a single linear narrative that was segmented for publishing convenience rather than by authorial intent. Tolkien’s hero, Frodo, is the adoptive heir of Bilbo Baggins, protagonist of The Hobbit. ...show more
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