A list by Pat Bowne
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Pat Bowne
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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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The Last of the Mohicans
James Fenimore Cooper
In the pages of this classic adventure tale you’ll meet one of the greatest heroes in American literature, Nathaniel Bumppo, a rugged scout and woodsman who goes by any number of nicknames, among them Natty, Leatherstocking, Pathfinder, Deerslayer, and Hawkeye. The Last of the Mohicans is the second...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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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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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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Johnny Tremain
Esther Forbes
Enlivening already thrilling historical events with vivid characters and page-turning drama, Esther Forbes’s novel of the American Revolution—and of Johnny Tremain’s personal and political adventures in the shadow of the looming rebellion—has remained a favorite of young readers for decades. Peopled...show more
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Flashman
George MacDonald Fraser
Flashman is the name of a bully who is expelled for drunkenness from Rugby School in the 1857 novel Tom Brown’s School Days by Thomas Hughes. A century after Hughes’s book, George MacDonald Fraser had the inspired idea of resurrecting “Flashy” and inventing for him a post-expulsion career. And what ...show more
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Half of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Set in Nigeria during the decade culminating in the 1967–70 Biafran war, a secession conflict that left more than a million dead from violence and famine, this story is at once a historical drama and a tale of family struggles and romances gone right and wrong. Half of a Yellow Sun established Adich...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
It's two books in one, and I think there's a big divide between those who read it for the parts with toad and those who read it for the parts without toad.
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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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The Manticore: The Deptford Trilogy, Book 2
Robertson Davies
Davies’s flamboyant naturalism continues in the second book in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore, in which the journey of discovery belongs to David Staunton, Boy’s son and Dunstan’s student. The three novels—each of which, remarkably, stands on its own and can be read independently of the others—...show more
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World of Wonders: The Deptford Trilogy, Book 3
Robertson Davies
The final installment of the Deptford Trilogy, World of Wonders, is the province of Mary Dempster’s prematurely born child, Paul, who has been transformed by his life as circus performer, actor, and illusionist into the larger-than-life magician Magnus Eisengrim. Davies’s three novels—each of which,...show more
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Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe
Inspired by the real-life experience of Alexander Selkirk (1676–1721), a Scottish sailor who was marooned for more than four years on a South Pacific island, Robinson Crusoe gave enduring form to fundamental themes of the Western imagination. With his parrot and parasol, the castaway Crusoe is an e...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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All Creatures Great and Small
James Herriot
All Creatures Great and Small is a semiautobiographical account of a Yorkshire veterinarian of the animals he treated, and, most tellingly of all, the farmers, families, and neighbors of the town of Darrowby and the surrounding countryside. Herriot’s professional attention to the calves, horses, dog...show more
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The Man in the High Castle
Philip K. Dick
Offering an alternate history that would become quite common as a fictional scenario but was exceedingly fresh at the time of its publication, The Man in the High Castle posits that the Axis powers have won World War II and come to subjugate the West. Despite the thriller-like political machinations...show more
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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Philip K. Dick
As the basis for the first and best adaptation of a Dick novel to film (Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner), this book occupies a central place in the PKD oeuvre. But its virtues and affect are different from the cinematic interpretation, more in line with Dick’s core preoccupations. All told, Do And...show more
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David Copperfield
Charles Dickens
David Copperfield is a novel so filled with character, invention, suspense, and inspired storytelling that one finishes it with an overwhelming regret: The turning of the last page closes the book on such a vivid world that one feels immediately impoverished. Dickens famously called Copperfield the ...show more
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Dombey and Son
Charles Dickens
The first novel that Dickens planned in detail before beginning composition, Dombey and Son marks a turning point in his development, ushering in the period of his mature works. Abandoning the pleasures of the picaresque and the improvisatory impulses of his earlier novels, it gains in their stead a...show more
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