A list by Pat Bowne
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Pat Bowne
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
To say that Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a book that captured the zeitgeist of the late 1970s and the 1980s is an understatement. Beginning as a BBC comedy radio series, it would mutate into versions in print, on stage, in comics, and on screens small and big, becoming an ...show more
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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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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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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 Book of Three
Lloyd Alexander
The Book of Three, the initial installment of The Chronicles of Prydain, a fabled five-volume series, was only Lloyd Alexander’s second novel, yet it permanently established him as a writer for adolescents whose work could be enjoyed with uninhibited and even critical pleasure by adult readers as we...show more
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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou
When you discover that a person has written six books of autobiography, you’re bound to wonder: Is she just a prolific narcissist, or has she really lived a six-volume life? If she’s Maya Angelou, there’s no doubt that the latter is the case: So compelling is her private story, so extravagant her pu...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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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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Peter Pan and Wendy
J. M. Barrie
Despite your familiarity with the outline of the tale, a reading of the novel Peter Pan and Wendy is likely to astonish you with its sophistication, allusiveness, and compelling, yet paradoxically reflective, storytelling. For all its fantasy and adventure, the book is very much written from an adul...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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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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Songs of Innocence and of Experience
William Blake
The remarkable thing about William Blake is that he was a visionary genius twice over—he is one of Britain’s greatest visual artists and one of the greatest poets in the English language. Blake's twofold artistry and unyielding individuality are seen to best effect in his illuminated books, the firs...show more
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The Book of Common Prayer
The Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer was first published in 1549, and, while it has gone through several revisions in response to shifts in political power and fluctuations in ecclesiastical fashion, it has been in continuous use ever since. To be sure, one wouldn’t read the Book of Common ...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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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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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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Wuthering Heights
Emily Brontë
In its intense drama and disregard for orthodox morality, Wuthering Heights continues to surprise and challenge us today. To attempt to chart the web of relationships of blood, marriage, social strata, economic dependence, love, envy, hatred, and revenge that bind Catherine and Heathcliff to the boo...show more
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The Good Earth
Pearl S. Buck
Published in 1931, while Modernism was turning fiction artfully on its ear, Buck’s simple, plot-driven tale of the shifting fortunes of Chinese peasants Wang Lung and O-Lan was innovative in its own way, marking the introduction of Asian characters into mainstream Western literature. In its pages, r...show more
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