A list by James Starkey
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James Starkey
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The Bible
Remains relevant to civilization after 2000 years regardless of religious faith or political viewpoint. No other tome can claim that.
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The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
Tremendously enjoyable and an insightful look at humor over time.
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The Hunt for Red October
Tom Clancy
Clancy's first book which hit at the height of the Cold War, was for myself and my future officer friends, a glimpse of the drama we hoped to join.
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Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little Bighorn
Evan S. Connell
The work of an idiosyncratic but engaging storyteller, Son of the Morning Star is discursive, elegant, and unflinching. The Christian Science Monitor called it “the story of Gen. George Armstrong Custer as Flaubert would have written it”; it’s a nice compliment, but the book is better than that, bec...show more
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The Red Badge of Courage
Stephen Crane
The Red Badge of Courage is an American classic and a landmark in the literature of war. Yet it is a book that is very easy to understand too quickly. Although it is subtitled An Episode of the American Civil War, the novel offers little detail specific to the War Between the States other than the b...show more
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A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
You know the story of this quintessential holiday tale, but have you ever read it? So many times has the tale been told—in numerous stage and screen adaptations—that we are apt to take the power of its invention for granted. Yet no retelling comes close to capturing the humor and human sympathy, the...show more
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Ragtime
E. L. Doctorow
Ragtime is first and foremost a good read, animated with complex characters, real and invented, and several absorbing plotlines that intersect in the narrative’s ingenious design. The layering of fiction and fact, ephemera and history, headline news and private heartache is alluring, giving the book...show more
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The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
A book of shimmering social surfaces and hauntingly evanescent private depths, The Great Gatsby imbues its fleet narrative with a formal elegance that has been readily apparent even to the generations of high school students to whom it has been assigned—generally long before they might understand th...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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A Grief Observed
C. S. Lewis
Although not as widely popular as The Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis’s many works of Christian reflection, such as The Problem of Pain and Mere Christianity, have proven enduringly valuable to people of faith (and even to those possessed by doubt). Yet no book Lewis wrote in any vein has likely p...show more
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Main Street
Sinclair Lewis
Main Street was the first significant success of the first American writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. A scathing anatomy of small-town narrow-mindedness in the early years of the twentieth century, Main Street tells the story of Carol Milford, an idealistic young woman who works at a libr...show more
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The Road
Cormac McCarthy
The Road starts simply enough: A father and son, waking after a night camping in the wilderness, prepare to journey onward. But we’re soon aware that the simplicity belongs to no pastoral idyll—the sky is endlessly gray, the rivers are the color of oil, and ash drips from above. Nearly all plants an...show more
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The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
Edmund Morris
Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) was the twenty-sixth president of the United States. He remains our youngest chief executive (he was forty-two when he assumed the office upon the assassination of President McKinley), and he is certainly one of the most fascinating. Naturalist John Burroughs once said...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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The Killer Angels
Michael Shaara
In the fleet, fierce narrative of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Michael Shaara brilliantly shows “what it was like to be” at Gettysburg by recording the terrible butchery of the three days’ fighting, switching among leaders’ perspectives on both sides, including Confederates General Lee and his ...show more
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Pygmalion
George Bernard Shaw
In Greek mythology, Pygmalion was a sculptor who fell in love with a woman he had carved in stone. Taking pity on the lovesick artist, the gods brought the statue to life: Creator and creation married and had a child. That’s the legend that provides the title for George Bernard Shaw’s play. Shaw’s c...show more
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Little House in the Big Woods
Laura Ingalls Wilder
At the age of sixty or so, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote a memoir of her upbringing called Pioneer Girl, for which she couldn’t find a publisher. With some advice and guidance from her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, she recast her memories as a book for young readers, Little House in the Big Woods. A cele...show more
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