A list by Kyle Sparling
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Kyle Sparling
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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 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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Treasure Island
Robert Louis Stevenson
On any list of the best adventure stories ever written, Treasure Island deserves a place at the top. Hewing to a taut narrative line that ripples with ominous vibrations, it pulls the reader headlong into a fantastic realm of pirates and buried treasure. Read the first few pages and see if you can s...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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The Iliad
Homer
The Iliad is a narrative of divine stratagems and military exploits, of fierce courage and heroic endeavor—a tale, clearly, of epic imagination. Yet the sense of pageantry the poem evokes obscures what may be its most telling characteristic: the peculiar angle from which Homer chooses to view antiqu...show more
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The Odyssey
Homer
What can one say about a story that has been entertaining, enchanting, and educating the human race from the very border of recorded history until today? Homer’s epic poem of the wandering and homecoming of Odysseus (aka Ulysses) is a grand adventure, where fact, myth, gods, and people meet, settle,...show more
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The Three Musketeers
Alexandre Dumas
Set in the seventeenth-century reign of Louis XIII and peopled with historical personages such as Cardinal Richelieu and the Duke of Buckingham, The Three Musketeers recounts the swashbuckling adventures of an impetuous young swordsman named d’Artagnan and the trio of soldiers in the king’s service ...show more
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The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas
When it comes to page-turners, The Count of Monte Cristo is the great granddaddy of them all. Despite the novel’s gargantuan dimensions—it runs to more than twelve hundred pages in most editions—each of its chapters is like an exhibit in a compendium of narrative suspense; it’s hard to imagine any t...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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Harold and the Purple Crayon
Crockett Johnson
With the aid of a magic purple crayon, a small but very resourceful boy named Harold draws himself into an assortment of delightful adventures. Deciding to go for a walk in the moonlight, he draws a moon and a long straight path, then sets off. The products of his purple crayon—a tree, a dragon, a p...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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A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine L'Engle
Troubled, feisty, and, as we shall discover, remarkably resourceful, thirteen-year-old Meg is one of the most unforgettable heroines in twentieth-century young adult fiction. Her family is rather memorable, too. There are her sympathetic parents, both of whom are scientists and one of whom, her fath...show more
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Beowulf
Surviving in one manuscript dating from around AD 1000, and believed to have been composed some two or three hundred years earlier, Beowulf is a poem composed in Old English, also known as Anglo-Saxon, a language worlds apart from even Chaucer’s Middle English. Although written in England, the poem’...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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Dracula
Bram Stoker
You’re probably familiar with the outlines of the story: A centuries-old vampire lures an English visitor to his castle in Transylvania, then journeys to London to seek fresh blood from his visitor’s paramour—with first mystified, then terrified, and finally horrified pursuers on his trail. But what...show more
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Foundation: The Foundation Trilogy, Book 1
Isaac Asimov
As a writer, Isaac Asimov’s reputation rests solidly on his ambitious Foundation Trilogy, which was awarded a special Hugo Award in 1966 as best science fiction series of all time. And although he would bow to fan pressure and resume the franchise nearly thirty years after publishing its initial ins...show more
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Great Expectations
Charles Dickens
More nuanced and darker in mood than David Copperfield, Great Expectations is its author’s deepest working of the terrain of childhood and the fears and fates that spring from it. Anchored in a Kentish village, around which the years and events of the complicated plot will revolve, the book returns ...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 Book of Job
As translated by Stephen Mitchell
Job’s tale is the Bible’s profound and unsettling meditation on suffering, justice, and the inscrutability of life. It begins in prose (as it will close), introducing the legend of the pious man from the land of Uz and revealing what Job himself never knows: that the miseries visited upon him result...show more
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