A list by Jane Randell
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Jane Randell
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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum
There’s no greater tribute to the pleasures of L. Frank Baum’s book than to say that the story is so good that it isn’t overwhelmed by the images from the wonderful Judy Garland movie. The story unfolds with a declarative matter-of-factness that puts no barrier between the real and the imagined; bec...show more
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Where the Wild Things Are
Maurice Sendak
“It is a constant miracle to me that children manage to grow up,” Maurice Sendak once said, citing the unseen and inchoate dangers that well up from within—anxiety, pain, fear, anger, boredom, even love—that make kids’ emotional survival such a prodigious feat. It is the slightly spooky magic of Sen...show more
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The Sound and the Fury
William Faulkner
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The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
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The Moonstone
Wilkie Collins
While the plot of The Moonstone is compelling, it is the play of its distinctive voices upon our understanding of events that makes the book truly absorbing. Clues are laid out carefully and, in retrospect at least, quite tellingly, but their meaning is obscured as we read by the shifting perspectiv...show more
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The Andromeda Strain
Michael Crichton
Although physician Michael Crichton previously published several pseudonymous novels, The Andromeda Strain was his first bestseller, and the storytelling élan it displayed would inform nearly four decades of inventive, often medically or scientifically minded thrillers. The combination of cutting-ed...show more
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The Moving Toyshop
Edmund Crispin
If you can imagine a plot that has imbibed too much champagne, you’ll have some idea of the giddy pleasures of this classic 1946 mystery, in which Oxford don Gervase Fen and poet Richard Cadogan unravel a murderous scheme so convoluted your head will be spinning even if you’re drinking tea. Fast, fu...show more
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Middlemarch
George Eliot
At the center of George Eliot’s vast portrait of the provincial city of Middlemarch, its society and inhabitants, is the story of Dorothea Brooke, a “home epic” of a bright, brave young woman learning how to live and what to live for. Most memorable of Middlemarch’s characters, however, is no charac...show more
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The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Tender Is the Night
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tender Is the Night—the last of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s four completed novels, and the author’s favorite—sprawls among dozens of characters and settings across Western Europe before and after World War I. Although its messy, heartbreaking story of mental illness, alcoholism, and the disintegration of ...show more
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Harriet the Spy
Louise Fitzhugh
Like an outsider Nancy Drew, Fitzhugh’s Harriet has won the esteem—“allegiance” is probably a better word—of countless young girls who’ve mimicked her notetaking (as well as her unwavering love for tomato sandwiches). She is, in a word, beloved, most likely because her stance apart—as writer, as spy...show more
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Four Quartets
T. S. Eliot
Written in the years before and during World War II, the Quartets consist of four long poems, each cohering around a season, one of the four natural elements (earth, air, water, fire), and a place: “Burnt Norton,” an English manor house and garden; “East Coker,” a village in Somerset, home to Eliot’...show more
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From Russia with Love
Ian Fleming
In James Bond, who made his first appearance in 1953’s Casino Royale, Ian Fleming created a fictional character who would—courtesy of the fabulous global success of the Bond film franchise in the 1960s and beyond—outgrow his modest literary origins to become an icon of modern masculinity. From Russi...show more
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Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl is the story of a marriage’s unraveling and the suspicion that falls on the husband in the wake of his wife’s disappearance. But it is author Gillian Flynn’s knowing exploitation of the intimate pact between writer and reader, her head-turning violation of it, that tightens the story's gri...show more
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The Day of the Jackal
Frederick Forsyth
This taut narrative of a 1963 assassination attempt on French president Charles de Gaulle proves that drama, like the devil, is in the details; throughout his intricate chronicle of the techniques and activities of a professional assassin, hired by a homegrown terrorist group incensed by de Gaulle’s...show more
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The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
Published in March 1939, Steinbeck’s saga of the havoc wreaked by the Great Depression was soon the country’s number one bestseller, selling thousands of copies each week despite the difficult economic times. At the same time, communities from coast to coast found it obscene and banned (and even bur...show more
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Cold Comfort Farm
Stella Gibbons
Imagine a Jane Austen heroine stumbling into an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, with the hillbillies portrayed by method actors. That will give you something of the flavor of this giddy tale, which presents a picture of country life that is roaringly bizarre—and hilarious. Flora Poste is a sophi...show more
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The Wind in the Willows
Kenneth Grahame
From its first pages, in which the amiable Mole and the resourceful Water Rat inaugurate their friendship with a waterborne picnic, The Wind in the Willows transports us to a genial and welcoming world. The story of life on the riverbank is peopled with a cast of players—Rat and Mole, the formidable...show more
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Grimms' Tales for Young and Old
Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm
Stories are humanity’s greatest tools; with them, men and women manipulate those essential elements of experience—fears and hopes, faiths and terrors, worry, grace, wonderment—that otherwise are so intangible. Generations of storytellers have used these implements to widely differing purpose and eff...show more
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Matilda
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl’s roster of youth-delighting tales is as rich as that of any twentieth-century children’s author. From The Gremlins (1943) to The Minpins (1991), Dahl created marvelous confections for young readers for nearly five decades. Standing out among his storytelling treats is Matilda, whose supe...show more
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