A list by Daniel Bennett
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Daniel Bennett
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
To say that Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a book that captured the zeitgeist of the late 1970s and the 1980s is an understatement. Beginning as a BBC comedy radio series, it would mutate into versions in print, on stage, in comics, and on screens small and big, becoming an ...show more
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Fairy Tales
Hans Christian Andersen
While the emotional sophistication of his stories can make them seem darker than their child-friendly frames at first suggest, there is no shortage of humor or high spirits in Andersen’s fanciful canon. Only a dozen or so of his more than 150 tales were drawn from existing folktales, in the manner o...show more
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The Arabian Nights
Is there an entry in the annals of story more charming than the tale of the brave and brilliant Shahrazad, who, by dint of cunning and invention, puts off her death at the hands of King Shahryār for a thousand and one nights? Bewitching the king with a nightly dose of suspenseful storytelling, she s...show more
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Confessions
Saint Augustine
Of all the saints of the early Christian church, Saint Augustine of Hippo possesses, for the modern reader at least, the most interesting mind. His ideas on language, time, and the mysteries of personality, humanity, and divinity are still provocative—after sixteen centuries!—and his genius for expr...show more
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Meditations
Marcus Aurelius
Perhaps even more than the great Athenian statesman Pericles, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius fulfilled Plato’s notion of the philosopher-king. He was well trained for the role, having been handpicked by Hadrian at the age of eight to succeed that imperial luminary. The beneficiary of the finest e...show more
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Emma
Jane Austen
At twenty, Emma Woodhouse—“handsome, clever, and rich”—knows that she’s the most fantastic woman in Highbury, and nothing amuses her more than meddling in other people’s affairs. But although she has good intentions, her matchmaking goes seriously awry, wrecking a perfectly good engagement for her f...show more
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Mansfield Park
Jane Austen
From a large and not too wealthy family, bashful Fanny Price is sent to live with her rich aunt and uncle at the house that gives this book its name. She finds herself intimidated by everyone there, except her kind cousin Edmund; constantly bursting into tears, she won’t even take part in her coeval...show more
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Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen
Jane Austen's best, In my opinion.
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Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
The best introduction to Austen’s work is surely the second of the six novels she wrote before her death at only forty-one, Pride and Prejudice, in which she introduces us to Elizabeth Bennet, the wittiest and most vivacious of five sisters on the hunt—if their mother has her way, at least—for husba...show more
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Tuck Everlasting
Natalie Babbitt
Age has its despairs, yet without its dimension, our lives lose their shape: A timeless life, without growth or change, would be drearier than the day is long. That’s the profound truth that illuminates this extraordinary fable, in which a young girl named Winnie finds herself catapulted into great ...show more
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Beowulf
Quintessential reading. This is the prototype that many others have followed.
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The Bible
In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis—in just thirty-one short verses—the world is given form, light is summoned into being, Day and Night are named, Heaven hatched, the stars invoked, and Earth fashioned into land and sea, seeded with plants and populated with creatures. All in less than eigh...show more
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The Book of Job
As translated by Stephen Mitchell
fantastic story, regardless of your religious affiliation...but since the bible is on this list, isn't this redundant?
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The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II
Fernand Braudel
In the history of historians, few modern figures loom as large as Fernand Braudel, who played a seminal role in revolutionizing his field of study, shifting its focus from strictly political narratives to the lasting patterns (the longue durée) of the geographic, social, and economic structures that...show more
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Goodnight Moon
Margaret Wise Brown, pictures by Clement Hurd
As the pages are turned and the simplest of poems unfolds in casually rhymed lines, pictures of the cow jumping over the moon and of the three little bears are given their due, as are kittens and mittens and toyhouse and mouse, and the quiet old lady in the rocking chair whispering “hush.” The conte...show more
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The Story of Babar
Jean de Brunhoff
Some denizens of children’s literature are so entrenched in our collective imagination, and Babar the elephant is certainly one, that they seem natural formations in the landscape of our fancy—timeless, enduring presences the world has always known. Not so, of course; even Babar was invented, making...show more
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Ender's Game
Orson Scott Card
The Wiggin children are unusual, even for the unusual world in which Ender’s Game unfolds. There’s the oldest, Peter, a power-mad sociopath; Valentine, the sister who turns her eloquence to Peter’s service; and then there’s Ender, their little brother, who is singled out by the authorities as the mi...show more
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Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes
yes, I think this story should be read, and re-read..but the "story" is better than the book, meaning that the book can be a bit dry at times...but it's worth the read.
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The Hunt for Red October
Tom Clancy
Published by the US Naval Institute Press in 1984, The Hunt for Red October became an unexpected but modest hit for the generally under-the-radar publisher, whose mission is to promote an understanding of sea power and other issues of national defense. But soon, abetted in no small part by President...show more
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The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
As story and as media phenomenon, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games is at the top of the pile of wildly popular dystopian teen fiction that has dominated twenty-first-century bestseller lists (in no small part by appealing to readers well beyond their teen years). In the nation of Panem, power and ...show more
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