A list by Mary Kelley Donovan
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Mary Kelley Donovan
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
Humorous and original. My husband gave this to me very early in our courtship and I loved it!
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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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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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Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag is a fireman. But, in the dystopian future of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 classic, a fireman’s duty is not to put out fires, but to start them. His job, in fact, is to burn books, a task that requires the temperature of 451° Fahrenheit. It’s natural to see Fahrenheit 451 as an allegory about cens...show more
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Goodnight Moon
Margaret Wise Brown, pictures by Clement Hurd
As the pages are turned and the simplest of poems unfolds in casually rhymed lines, pictures of the cow jumping over the moon and of the three little bears are given their due, as are kittens and mittens and toyhouse and mouse, and the quiet old lady in the rocking chair whispering “hush.” The conte...show more
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Ender's Game
Orson Scott Card
The Wiggin children are unusual, even for the unusual world in which Ender’s Game unfolds. There’s the oldest, Peter, a power-mad sociopath; Valentine, the sister who turns her eloquence to Peter’s service; and then there’s Ender, their little brother, who is singled out by the authorities as the mi...show more
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Madeline
Ludwig Bemelmans
In this first of seven Madeline tales written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans, our heroine, a French charmer whose special blend of moxie and mischief wins the hearts of all who meet her, proves her mettle. Madeline and her world— including Pepito (the boy next door), the dog Genevieve, Miss Cla...show more
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Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Composed in English and published in 1958, two years before Nigeria declared independence, Things Fall Apart was the first African novel to attain a wide international readership. It is a short, sparely told tale that nevertheless embraces themes of enormous import: fate and will, the determining i...show more
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The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
As story and as media phenomenon, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games is at the top of the pile of wildly popular dystopian teen fiction that has dominated twenty-first-century bestseller lists (in no small part by appealing to readers well beyond their teen years). In the nation of Panem, power and ...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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The Bible
In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis—in just thirty-one short verses—the world is given form, light is summoned into being, Day and Night are named, Heaven hatched, the stars invoked, and Earth fashioned into land and sea, seeded with plants and populated with creatures. All in less than eigh...show more
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The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown
Some books become popular phenomena of such extraordinary dimensions that it becomes impossible not to pick them up; usually this is because something about them makes them impossible to put down, no matter how hard we try. The Da Vinci Code, which dominated the bestseller list between 2003 and 2006...show more
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Flatland
Edwin A. Abbott
A novel of mathematical whimsy, Flatland is set in the peculiar world that provides the book’s name and is home to its putative author, A. Square, a two-dimensional being in a world inhabited by lines, triangles, circles, and polygons. Ingeniously composed as a kind of dystopian memoir, Flatland is ...show more
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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
John Berendt
When Esquire columnist John Berendt began dividing his time between Manhattan and Savannah in the early 1980s, it wasn’t with the idea of writing a book, much less breaking publishing records or singlehandedly reinvigorating the tourist industry of the southern city. Savannah was simply an interesti...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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Emma
Jane Austen
At twenty, Emma Woodhouse—“handsome, clever, and rich”—knows that she’s the most fantastic woman in Highbury, and nothing amuses her more than meddling in other people’s affairs. But although she has good intentions, her matchmaking goes seriously awry, wrecking a perfectly good engagement for her f...show more
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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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Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë
Destitute young woman leaves rotten boarding school for job as governess in sprawling mansion, falls in love with broodingly handsome employer with dark secret. In the twenty-first century, the plot of Jane Eyre might sound clichéd, yet Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel, about a plain orphan girl exceed...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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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
C. S. Lewis
Sent away from London during Second World War, the four Pevensie children are taken in by a professor who lives in a very large house in the country. On the first day of exploring their new abode, little Lucy discovers a mirror-fronted wardrobe in an otherwise bare room; creeping into it, she crosse...show more
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