A list by Margaret Bailey
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Margaret Bailey
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The Walls Came Tumbling Down
Henriette Roosenburg
“This is the story of the liberation of four Dutch political prisoners at the end of World War II, and about their trek home to Holland after Russian soldiers had freed them from the prison in Waldheim, a small village in south-eastern Germany.” Thus begins this firsthand account of the adventures o...show more
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The Lord of the Rings
J. R. R. Tolkien
Appearing in three separate volumes between July 1954 and October 1955, The Lord of the Rings constitutes a single linear narrative that was segmented for publishing convenience rather than by authorial intent. Tolkien’s hero, Frodo, is the adoptive heir of Bilbo Baggins, protagonist of The Hobbit. ...show more
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The Education of Henry Adams
Henry Adams
Surveying national events from his birth through the era of the Civil War and the subsequent economic expansion of the United States, Adams’s distinctive autobiography is also a brilliant work of historical acumen. It depicts, with imaginative aplomb, the cultural transformations set in motion as th...show more
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Sophie's Choice
William Styron
This novel is about history, coming-of-age, the Holocaust, survival, the legacy of slavery, guilt, lust, life’s tantalizing and everlasting perishability, and—very much—writing. Discursive, provocative, intellectually probing and emotionally wrenching, Styron’s novel fits its author’s youthful descr...show more
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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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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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Stranger in a Strange Land
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Heinlein's most famous and influential work, albeit not his most brilliantly speculative, is surely Stranger in a Strange Land, a book whose questioning of social mores and religious certitude have made it as congenial to some readers as it has been controversial to others. Astonishingly ente...show more
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Histories
Herodotus
The Landmark edition is superb, with extensive explanatory material and numerous maps.
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Skellig
David Almond
A lovely short novel, variously considered children's and young adult, about a boy who meets a magical creature in a time of crisis in his family. 10-year old Michael's family has just moved across town to a derelict house his father is renovating. He can still attend his old school, but it's harde...show more
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The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion
On December 30, 2003, Didion and her husband, the novelist John Gregory Dunne, went to a hospital to visit their daughter, Quintana, who was in an induced coma as part of a severe course of treatment for a mysterious illness and septic shock. Later that evening, they returned to their Manhattan apar...show more
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The Glass Bead Game
Hermann Hesse
Imagine a game in which the player is called upon to use all the insights, noble thoughts, works of art, and products of scientific and scholarly inquiry that have shaped civilization. In his last novel, Hermann Hesse conceived of just such a pastime, an elaborative imaginative enterprise whose rule...show more
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The Guns of August
Barbara W. Tuchman
With keen attention to the personalities of leaders in London, Berlin, Paris, and Saint Petersburg, Barbara Tuchman organizes the elements of a complex, multifaceted reality into a compelling drama of national ambitions and individual egos (among them General Joseph Joffre of France; Lord Kitchener,...show more
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The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas
The best tale of revenge you'll ever read. Even if you've seen one, or all, of the films, don't skip the book. It's simply masterful storytelling.
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The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
Julian Jaynes
Talk about a book that will make you reconsider what you think you know! I've read this at least 3 times, and it never gets old. The stuff about how older epics and books of the Bible were written, compared to more modern writings (with, say, 1000 BC being modern) makes a lot of sense, or will at...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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The Day of the Triffids
John Wyndham
Yes, in The Day of the Triffids the human race does go blind and people die in immense numbers from sheer sensory incapacity—to say nothing of the genetically engineered predatory plants given star billing in the book’s title. Yet, the novel exudes a holiday air, a sense of liberation from artificia...show more
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The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank
Anne Frank’s intimate two-year record of her family’s hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic is one of the most famous, powerful, and beloved books of the twentieth century. Encapsulating the terror of the Holocaust in the domestic drama of the Franks’ anxious existence and the private yearning...show more
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Lewis Carroll
More than the sum of its parts, Lewis Carroll’s Alice oeuvre has taken root in our collective imagination like few other literary creations. Despite—or perhaps because of—its nonsensical pedigree, it has proved to be an addictive pleasure for analysts seduced by its dense mix of childish frivolities...show more
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All the President's Men
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
All the President’s Men follows Woodward and Bernstein's investigation of the Watergate scandal from start to finish, taking readers behind the scenes, describing in detail their dogged efforts to uncover sources, pursue leads, and—as their most famous informant, “Deep Throat,” had counseled them—fo...show more
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Bhagavad Gita
There is no certainty about who wrote the Gita, or when; scholars have dated it anywhere between the third century BC and the sixth century of the modern era. At some point, it was incorporated into Hinduism’s mammoth epic, the Mahabharata, but it appears to have been written later than the rest of ...show more
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