A list by Larry Hawkes
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Larry Hawkes
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
A sci-fi classic!
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Watership Down
Richard Adams
One of the most phenomenal international bestsellers of the 1970s, Watership Down is an immersive saga that traverses great themes and feelings—courage, frailty, community, ecology, responsibility, friendship, love—while holding readers on the edge of their metaphorical seats. And oh, yes—it’s a 500...show more
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Inferno: The Divine Comedy, Book 1
Dante Alighieri
From the dark wood of its beginning, down through the nine circles of hell, across the seven terraces of purgatory, and into the ten heavens of paradise, Dante’s medieval tour de force gives us, in T. S. Eliot’s estimation, the greatest altitude and the greatest depth of human passion any writer has...show more
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Purgatorio: The Divine Comedy, Book 2
Dante Alighieri
Although the stories in hell are better than those in purgatory, sin being a sexier subject than penance, Dante’s poetry never palls. Throughout, he infuses his narrative with a current of feeling that humanizes the austere theological arc of his pilgrim’s progress.
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Little Women
Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, the second of four daughters of a noted proponent of Transcendentalism, Bronson Alcott. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a friend of the family, as were Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Despite her transcendentalist pedigree, Louisa May Alcott ...show more
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Paradiso: The Divine Comedy, Book 3
Dante Alighieri
As the Comedy ascends to a heaven of light, Dante completes the grand imaginative arc he began in the dark wood, having composed out of eschatological speculations an epic as thrilling as those of Homer, as filled with human sensibility as Virgil’s—one in which all the deadly sins, and all the longe...show more
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Lucky Jim
Kingsley Amis
A riotous satire of English university life, the engaging and high-spirited Lucky Jim had a huge impact in its time, setting the style for postwar fiction and helping to define the generation of “Angry Young Men” in 1950s Britain. But this Angry Young Man is as funny as they come, and the novel’s se...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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Nicomachean Ethics
Aristotle
Student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, founder of the Athenian Lyceum, Aristotle possessed a pedigree every bit as singular as his influence would prove to be. His ideas, instruments of investigation, and observations of nature both loom over and underlie much intellectual endeavor. His wor...show more
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Study is Hard Work
William H. Armstrong
Best known for his Newbery Medal-winning 1969 novel Sounder, William H. Armstrong was an educator by profession, spending more than five decades teaching teenagers at the Kent School in Connecticut. Much of what his vocation taught him is contained in Study Is Hard Work, an elegant, eloquently writt...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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Foundation and Empire: The Foundation Trilogy, Book 2
Isaac Asimov
While Asimov’s saga nowadays seems less original than when it first appeared, the sweep of its conception maintains a thrilling freshness. Humanity spreads throughout the galaxy (there are, notably, no aliens to contend with) and reaches a developmental peak after 12,000 years, typified by the uber-...show more
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Second Foundation: The Foundation Trilogy, Book 3
Isaac Asimov
Asimov’s penchant for discursive logic and brains over brawn does not prevent the Foundation series from being enthralling. Even today, ranked against all that has followed, it glows with quiet majesty.
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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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Sense and Sensibility
Jane Austen
Austen’s first published novel, which appeared under the pseudonym “A Lady,” is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, and of the tension between private passions and public decorum. This is Austen’s most social novel, and in both town and country, she depicts a privileged class rif...show more
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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
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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