Monday, October 30, 2017

It's A Classic!

When I was in high school I read nearly zero books and I've been feeling guilty about this for mumble mumble cough years. So guilty that if I knew where my diploma was I would probably send it back with an apology note and some homemade pumpkin bread because Cathie didn't raise me in the wild.

My ability to fake preparedness has been both one of my greatest assets and one of my biggest hindrances. What this meant was that when Mrs. Voorhees was like "what did The Scarlet Letter teach you about humanity" I could be all like "in a way, isn't the fact that the literary letter was scarlet so symbolic of every inadequacy felt by man in a literal sense?" and Mrs. Voorhees would be all like "A! PLUS!" but then when I got into the real world and someone was like "name one character from The Scarlet Letter or you'll die" I just had to die.

So it's not good that I didn't read books.

There were some exceptions to this. I read To Kill A Mockingbird, and have since reread it a number of times because I believe that if I love it enough, Atticus Finch will have to appear in my life and grant me three wishes. The nearly-perfect Atticus Finch. Not the racist one. And if you don't know what I'm talking about DO NOT FREAKING READ GO SET A WATCHMAN.

You have been warned.



A couple of years ago I decided that since I don't know where to send my high school diploma back and I'm not even really sure if you can mail pumpkin bread I would just try to read as many classics as possible. What this means is that I, in my 30s, am immersing myself in the same material as your teenage children, which, no, does not make me hip or help me understand what the kids are into.

I am by no means devouring these old books because I spend my entire day reading boring law stuff and so frequently by the time I leave the office I am so turned off to reading that I refuse to look at stop signs and I've killed like 1,200 people in my city because of this.

I assume they were all bad people so don't worry.

Most recently, I have read:

1984: Loved it. Also terrified every day that we are living it. Also, that's the year I was born. I mean mumble mumble cough.

Of Mice and Men: WHY is this book famous? I had to stop myself from skimming it like five times. And I almost gave up even though it's basically just a pamphlet. Fortunately I finished it or I would have had to send my diploma in twice.

Great Expectations: I loved it so much that I nearly changed my name to Charles Dickens but then stopped myself because of the potential mean nicknames from kids on the playground.

Catcher in the Rye: Gave me so much teenage angst that I went through puberty. FINALLY.

Crime and Punishment: So many pages of stream-of-consciousness that sometimes I feel like I murdered an old woman.

And all of the Bearenstain Bears collection, obviously.

There may have been others but that's all I can think of right now. At the moment I'm working on The Grapes of Wrath, which reminds me, DON'T BE A FARMER IN OKLAHOMA DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION.

Now you've been warned about TWO things.

One of you better name a baby after me one day.

So, today I need to know what your favorite classic is. I need recommendations as well. Also, Mrs. Voorhees? Are you reading this? I'm sorry that I lied to you about The Scarlet Letter.

~It Just Gets Stranger

147 comments:

  1. A Tale Of Two Cities. That was one of the only books I actually read in HS and I really loved it.

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    1. I love A Tale of Two Cities! Probably the best Dickens novel I've ever read.

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    1. Gatsby, all the way....
      BTW, while all of my purist friends prefer the 70's Robert Redford movie adaptation of the Gatsby, when I read Gatsby, I totally envisioned the Leonardo Dicaprio borderline manic Gatsby.

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  3. And...this is a new one that has been added to some HS reading lists but it’s my favorite book and you should read it. The Book Theif.

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    1. I agree Krishelle. That was a great book. But it made me cry multiple times!

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    2. An amazing book. If you like to read ww2 books, I have several more that I would nominate! The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom being number one.

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    3. I love The Hiding Place! What an amazing woman! Have you read Unbroken?

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    4. Amy Rose I’d love all your suggestions, I’m always looking for something good to read.

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    5. Since we're kind of on a WW2 theme, I suggest Sarah's Key...about the lesser-known French holocaust...really, really good.

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    6. The Book Thief is amazing!

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    7. Ok Krishelle, do you want books in general, or ww2 books? Are you on goodreads? It’s kind of like a social media site for book lovers to recommend and review the books they have read. (Amy Rose)

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    8. I'm a WW2 novel junkie! The Book Thief was good, just finished We Were the Lucky Ones. I'll have to check out Sarah's Key. The Dressmaker's War was really good. Those Who Save Us was a good one too!

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    9. I did read The Book Thief and really liked it (even though I thought the writer came off as pretentious and way too proud of the idea to have death narrate).

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    10. Oh wow Sarah's Key. That book! I mean, you know going into it that WW2 books are going to tear you up inside, but wow. That one.

      Here's another WW2 to add to the list: "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr.

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    11. You have to read The Nightengale by Kristin Hannah. Set in World War II in Nazi-occupied France. One of the best books I have ever read, and I'm still thinking about it all the time.

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  4. My all time favorite will always be Jane Eyre with Gone With the Wind being a close runner up. Also, while not a classic yet, I strongly recommend The Warmth of Other Suns. It's an amazing book. I think it should be required reading in high school.

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  5. Also, I absolutely refuse to read Go Set a Watchman! I will not have my image of the most noble character ever written to be tarnished! Do you all really think Harper Lee even wrote that? I have my doubts.

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    1. She wrote it, but never wanted it published is what I read. Thats why I will never read it, even before I heard spoilers tainting my favorite all time literary character. Or, top five. Also, you don’t even know what you have unleashed asking for book recommendations. Signed, Amy Rose

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    2. I really enjoyed the Go Set A Watchman. I don't think it will ever be more popular that To Kill A Mockingbird mostly because adult stories told by adults are much more serious and heavy than adult stories told by a child.

      I'll see your Book Thief recommendations and raise you a Peace Like A River recommendation (Is this how Poker works?) Peace Like A River has a similar feel to To Kill A Mockingbird.

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    3. She wrote Go Set a Watchman first. When she showed it to her editor, the editor told her that it would be interesting to parse out Scout's background--to talk about how she became the way she was as an adult. So she went back and wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. Go Set a Watchman was an unfinished and abandoned transcript that was never meant to be published. It isn't even consistent with To Kill A Mockingbird (each book talks about the trial but references opposite outcomes). I so wanted to like it but the inconsistency and the obviously-unedited work made me so angry. I think the publisher took advantage of an old and senile woman who for decades affirmatively told people she had no interest in publishing anything else.

      That said, I would have been fine with someone eventually releasing Go Set A Watchman, but not as a novel. If they had come out with it as an educational and historical manuscript whose purpose was to show the evolution of a very impactful story, I think that would have probably been ok. I would have found it really interesting to read instead of infuriating.

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    4. I read a book called “The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee” and I know it isn’t a classic and you asked for classics, but I would recommend it. It broke my heart in so many ways. (Ahem, Amy Rose)

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    5. I made the mistake of reading it. It was horrible.

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    6. Sarah, I LOVE Peace Like a River! I think that's a great recommendation.

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  6. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, but maybe don't eat meat the same week you read it.

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  7. David Copperfield is definitely my favorite.

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  8. I'm so glad you liked 1984! That's one of my all-time favorite books! I second The Great Gatsby, and add Fahrenheit 451, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Slaughterhouse Five, and Les Miserables if you really want to spend forever on a book (but get the abridged version unless for some unfathomable reason you want to spend a whole chapter reading about the sewer system in Paris).

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    1. Omg. This. I wasn’t warned about this, and so when I got through 50 pages to the end of the freaking battle of Waterloo only to realize the ONLY THING relating to the ACTUAL PLOT of les mis was like a page at the end, I was pissed.

      I’m still pissed about that, actually.

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    2. Fahrenheit 451 was awesome.

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    3. Oh, unabridged Les Miserables. I made that mistake as well. Horrible mistake. Some books . . . (I'm looking at you, Moby Dick, as well) just should be abridged.

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  9. Of Mice and Men was beautiful AND gave birth to so many pieces of REAL art...
    https://youtu.be/gKxrJQlSMXs ... I rest my case zoe

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  10. Oh and The Winter of Our Discontent, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and just for fun The Fourth Bear!

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  11. A Separate Peace. I think you would really like this book - I re-read it last year and felt just as strongly about it as I did in high school.

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    1. I forgot about this book! I definitely would like to reread this and several other books that I somewhat enjoyed in high school to see how my literacy taste has changed. Except for maybe The Old Man and the Sea (my teacher analyzed that book to death) and A Brave New World (super depressing).

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    2. I HATED A Separate Peace. I thought it was a Catcher in the Rye rip off (which I loved.)
      Farenheit 451
      A Handmaid's Tale
      The Outsider's
      The Most Dangerous Game (a short story but I had to read it multiple times in junior high and high school and loved it)
      Wuthering Heights (oh Heathcliff!)

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  12. A book they tried to force us to read in school, but which I resisted, was O Pioneers! by Willa Cather. Later, I found it to be a very good book.

    The other classic you may have already checked out is "Bears in the Night." It's best read aloud, the first part should be read slowly and suspensefully, and the last part read lightning fast! Good luck!

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  13. Yes! A Separate Peace. Also, The Giver (okay, it's 4th grade reading, but if you didn't read in high school you probably didn't in 4th grade, either).

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    1. I recommend The Giver as well. I read it in my sophomore year of high school while sitting in Latin class. The class was in a middle school classroom (school was Pre-K through 12th), and my desk was in the back corner next to the classroom library. My boredom during Latin led me to randomly grab The Giver off the shelf. I read that during class instead of conjugating verbs. I swear I've read it once a year ever since.

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    2. Definitely The Giver! I was shocked & disturbed by it (which is what it's supposed to do), but still found it very well-written and intriguing. And it's only made better by reading the rest of the series: "Gathering Blue," "Messenger," and "Son." She does an excellent job of tying them together without making it the standard kind of cliffhanger series.

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  14. Hemingways' A Farewell to Arms is good

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  15. Have you heard of Librivox.org? It is a site with free audiobooks. They only have books in the public domain, like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Alexander Dumas, etc, and then have volunteers record the stories. Some of the volunteers aren't the best, but they usually have multiple versions of the same book so you can find a reader you like. This is how I've read/listened to a lot of classics as an adult.

    Also, I LOVE The Count of Monte Cristo. There are so many intricacies in the book that listening to it was probably the only way I would have followed/finished it, but definitely add that to your list!

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    1. I love Librivox! And The Count of Monte Cristo!

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  16. I second A Tale of Two Cities and Jane Eyre. I would also add Frankenstein and Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. Anne of Green Gables is always a joy to read and I somehow think you might enjoy L. M. Montgomery's run on sentences and page long paragraphs...
    Finally, my favorite classic is The Count of Monte Cristo. I think you would thoroughly enjoy this one, the story of suffering, revenge, and the fairness or unfairness of life is beautifully told.

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  17. I'm a huge fan of Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451, The Halloween Tree (a great seasonal classic), Something Wicked This Way Comes.

    Anthem by Ayn Rand (I have issue with her- but this book is great)

    Great Gatsby

    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

    The Little Prince (cute quick read)

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    1. I'm curious - what is your issue with Ayn Rand? I liked Anthem, and also another of her books that I recently read, The Fountainhead. I don't know much about her as a person though.

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    2. So I’ve only read one Ayn Rand novel, Atlas Shrugged, and I too have issues with her. Having never read Anthem or The Fountainhead I cant speak for those...but Atlas Shrugged felt like she was shoving her ideology down your throat. Characters literally had 30+ page monologues about how socialists are the spawn of Satan and capitalism is the only holy and good thing in the whole universe and government is garbage. There was also a blurb by YW author bio about “join my cult, oops I mean political ideology! Objectivism! We’re off to create utopia!!”
      Basically this all annoyed me. I loved the storyline, the mystery was intriguing and fun, but I could have done without the heavy handed politics. I’ve been afraid to read another of her novels ever since!

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  18. The count of Monte Cristo was amazing! I also enjoyed War and Peace.

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  19. I basically hated all the "classics" I had to read and analyze in high school so much that I managed to go through 4 years of college without taking an English class. I only discovered classics that don't suck as an adult: The Phantom Tollbooth, David Copperfield, Pride and Prejudice, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Little Women, The Count of Monte Cristo.

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    1. I think The Phantom Tollbooth is one of the cleverest books I’ve ever read. I read it as a child and I regularly reread it.

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  20. Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness. Both scarred me and I still reflect on cruelty of children and how they learn that.

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  21. If you want to ruin your day in a mostly good way, I recommend the Kite Runner. Also, The Invention of Wings is fantastic! And, I didn't read this one in High School, but it's just a really amazing book (with an admittedly weird title) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is incredible (and also a pretty quick read)

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    1. Ahhh The Kite Runner!!!! I can only read it every so often, but I have reread it a few times. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

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    2. Andrea, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was one of my favorites!! It was so sweet and I never knew about the occupation of Guernsey during the war until I read this.

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    3. Did you know they're making a movie of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? I just found this out, and I'm so excited! Such a good book.

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  22. Wuthering Heights, The Three Musketeers, All Quiet on the Western Front, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm and anything by Tolkien. I'm currently re-reading Moby Dick. For what it's worth, I hated the Scarlet Letter.

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  24. Fahrenheit 451 for sure. Another frightening look at where we seem to be headed!

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  25. To Kill A Mockingbird was the only assigned reading I actually enjoyed in school. But if you don't add some Jane Austen to your list I will be mightily disappointed. Also Jane Eyre. It must happen.

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  26. Oh! And also read The Scarlett Pimpernel!

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  27. I'd like to see your reaction to Wuthering Heights. Also second Great Gatsby/Brave New World/Fahrenheit 451. I also recommend Atlas Shrugged, The Alchemist, The Hobbit/LOTR, Pride and Prejudice, Crime and Punishment, and though I disliked it, my husband enjoyed Heart of Darkness. And if you're jonesing for some dry-humor, Catch-22. I'm a big reader, so I could probably list a lot more, but I'll stop for now.

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    1. Ok so I have to say this since Wuthering Heights was mentioned and I have seen several for Jane Eyre (of course) if you are going to go Bronte sisters, you have to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. It’s the least known of the three sisters’ novels, but the best. She died first, and her sisters buried it so it never got the attention it should have. Seriously, so good. (Amy...I don’t apologize. Ok, I do. I’m gonna whit soon)

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  28. Wait, you finally went through puberty? Congratulations! You need to have a party! Did your voice get super low? Did you grow several inches? Oh god, it didn’t change your hair did it??!? NOT THE HAIR!!

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  29. Your exchange with Mrs. Voorhees and then having to just die in the real world because you don't know the names of the characters in The Scarlet Letter is the funniest thing you've ever written.

    Also, TKAMB for the win. Always.

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  30. Another vote for Jane Eyre. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a lifelong favorite of mine as well. I haven't seen A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on the list yet—also one of my favorites. And Shakespeare—I loved reading Romeo and Juliet in junior high.

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  31. Anything Ray Bradbury. Some of his short stories are the scariest things I’ve ever read. Also, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. And The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (SO much better than the play, even though I know you don’t believe me). And anything by Phillip K Dick (although I don’t know if he’s considered a classic). Also Silas Marner. And The White Company. AND, the original Sherlock Holmes books and short stories. And literally any Agatha Christie mystery.

    (Me, a reader? Nah. Why do you ask?)

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    1. Yesss to the Phantom of the Opera! I was hoping someone would suggest it. One of my favorites.

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    2. Rebecca! It's a mystery and soooo good.

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    3. Rebecca and Phantom! We should be friends. I love both of those!

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  32. I really liked - and still like - John Steinbeck's East of Eden. It's loooong. But great!

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  33. David Copperfield, Peter Pan, The Little Prince, Animal Farm, Huckleberry Finn, Phantom Tollbooth.

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    1. The Little Prince literally changed my world when I read it in college. I think I own four or five copies of it now just in case. (Amy here, again, but aren’t you impressed I skipped over so many comments? I agree with so many of books people are mentioning- you have readers with amazing good taste in books. Haha)

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  34. I second (or seventh because so many people recommended it) Fahrenheit 451. My 8th grader is reading it now and I told her that I LOVED it when I read it in high school. Do I have any recollection of it? No. So now I have to steal it from her when she's done. I am friends with my high school literature teacher on facebook and he told me to have her draw her interpretation of the Mechanical Dog, as he had students do that when he was still teaching. It was quite impressive!

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  35. The Count of Monte Cristo. The book is even sadder than the movie!

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  36. Like Shelly said above, I recommend The Giver as well, even though it is geared toward middle school. It's a quick read. I read it in my sophomore year of high school while sitting in Latin class. The class was in a middle school classroom (school was Pre-K through 12th), and my desk was in the back corner next to the classroom library. My boredom during Latin led me to randomly grab The Giver off the shelf. I read that during class instead of conjugating verbs. I swear I've read it once a year ever since.

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  37. I second Fahrenheit 451 and Rebecca strongly. I also love Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen). Pride and Prejudice was my fave when I was in high school, but Northanger Abbey is my fave as an adult, and I think it will mesh with your sense of humor. I also really enjoyed CS Lewis's space trilogy, tho I don't know that that is a classic.

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    1. Ya another Northanger Abbey fan! I am with you, Pride and Prejudice got me into Jane Austen, but Northanger Abbey has definitely become my favorite novel of hers.

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    2. I loooove Jane Austin, but Emma was my favorite

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  38. Rebecca (the movie with Laurence Olivier is good too - directed by Alfred Hitchcock, but read it too), The Good Earth, The Outsiders (stay golden, Pony Boy), Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula. And not necessarily classics, but excellent: Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage (Alfred Lansing), The Boys in the Boat, Unbroken (much, much more in this than the movie), Dead Wake, I could go on for days (because #bibliophile.)

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    1. Oh I forgot about The Outsiders! Second on that and Unbroken! The movie Unbroken just didn't really complete the story like it should have.

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    2. I did read The Outsiders in 8th grade and I read Jekyll and Hyde on a cruise last year. I forgot to include that one in the post. I also read Unbroken at Krishelle's suggestion while in Palau and had the really strange experience of reading about an island in the book and then realizing that it was the island directly across the water from where I was sitting.

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    3. Outsiders is worth the re-read... I promise. And it blows my mind that S.E. Hinton wrote that book as a teenager. And the movie is good too (Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, C. Thomas Howell, all the 80's kool kidz)

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    4. Patrick Swayze maybe a long lost relative because my oldest brother looks so much like him. So I remembered the movie affecting me way more than it probably should have.

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  39. Little Women. No, you cannot watch the Winona Ryder movie instead. The Good Earth.

    Side Note: I'm an avid reader. I always excelled in English and I purposely took Classical and Contemporary Literature as an elective my senior year of high school. But I hated..HATED..*invent new words for hate* The Grapes of Wrath. I know it's the "great American novel" and blah blah blah, but good lord what an awful book.

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    1. Well now you have to tell me why you hated it so much. (But no spoilers, please). I am really loving it so far.

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    2. I loved The Grapes of Wrath! But I hated the other great American novel, "The Great Gatsby " Funny how tastes are different :)

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    3. Reading The Grapes of Wrath as an adult with children is a much different experience than reading it as a high school aged girl with no cares in the world. Same thing with Gone With the Wind. I was devastated reading both of those as an adult.

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    4. I think it boils down to not being a fan of Steinbeck's writing style. It distracted me from the story and I had a hard time connecting with the characters or caring about the story. That probably makes me sound like an awful person because the story is supposed to be deeply moving. I did attempt to re-read it as an adult, but came to the same conclusion.

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  40. Hooray for puberty!
    The Count of Monte Cristo is my absolute favorite classic. I read it both abridged and unabridged. So good!

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  41. Lord of the Flies is one that I had to read twice in high school. Super messed up, but not a bad read.

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    1. Yes! I just read this last year, and it was so good!

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  43. OK so my reading comprehension is about negative eleventy. So, while I actually can’t tell you exactly every detail of what happened in these books I remember how I felt reading them. If I l remember reading them that means I liked it or liked how I felt reading it. Make sense? Anything and everything by Edgar Allan Poe, Catch-22 (that was a what the $@%$ did I just read kind of book) and The Bell Jar is an all-time favorite. Other Classic that I don’t necessarily think would be school appropriate are Memoirs of Geisha and A Clockwork Orange.

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  44. well dang, having trouble getting this to post. So many good ones already listed! Here's a few others: Dr Doolittle by Hugh Lofting, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll the unabridged version. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett. Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O'Dell. Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscare Wilde. Animal Farm by George Orwell. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle. These are ones I read as a teen and later went back and read as an adult.

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    1. YES to The Secret Garden! I regularly reread that. I absolutely love A Little Princess, too. Such sweet, touching, inspiring books.

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    2. Loved Island of the Blue Dolphin. I come back to it every few years and recently introduced my niece to it. :)

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  45. My tiny Nebraska-town high school had us read On the Beach (which I'd also read 2 years earlier when my brother went through the same English class, and I was curious/bored). That book...I still don't know if I like it or not. Interesting take on humanity. Not sure I'd want to read it again right now, though. The ones I did like were The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, Farenheit 451, and anything Edgar Alan Poe, Agatha Christie or Ray Bradbury.

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  46. This brings me so much joy because I've been doing the exact same thing for the same reason. I LOVED 1984, and isn't it scary how it parallels modern life? I know Jane Eyre is kind of a girl book, but it blew my mind when I finally read it for real a few years ago.

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  47. The only assigned book I skipped in school was The Hobbit in sixth grade. I also skipped two of the three movies.

    Catcher in the Rye was actually never assigned to my class; when the other 10th grade English classes were reading it, my teacher got approval to assign Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Kiterunner instead.

    So I just read Catcher in the Rye for the first time a couple months ago at age *mumble mumble 28 mumble mumble*. I then spent the next month thinking I am Holden Caufield.

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  48. I majored in English so I read a lot of books through college. I honestly don't remember which ones were considered classics, but some that I loved enough to keep were All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Road by Cormac McCarthy (about as mild as a post-apocalypse book can get), Gilead by Marilyn Robinson, Measure for Measure by Shakespeare, and Persuasion by Jane Austen. I read My Antonia in high school and fell in love with it. Also, if you haven't read The Secret Garden you need to.

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  49. I hated "A Separate Peace", 'Brave New World" and "1984" in High School, although "Brave New World" has since grown on me. Other than that, I loved a lot of the literature from the 19th century: James Fenimore Cooper: "The Last of the Mohicans" & "The Spy"; Hawthorne's "House of Seven Gables" and "The Scarlet Letter". Anything by Dickens.... have you read "A Christmas Carol"? As good as most of the movies or stage plays are, the book has so much more!!! I have not read (and never plan to read) either "Lord of the Flies" or "Animal Farm".

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  50. Where the Red Fern Grows is an amazing novel about the love between a boy and his dogs. Right up your alley. I've read it multiple times.

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    1. This book is amazing. If you didn’t read it as a child, you should definitely read it with your neices when they are old enough. How old are they now? I think I read this when I was 10-11. (Uh, Amy Rose again. Should I commit to this anonymous thing and stop telling you?)

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  51. Oh my gosh yeeeesssss To Kill a Mockingbird is my fave!! ok so anything by Jane Austin (but Emma and Pride and Prejudice are my faves), Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, The Hiding Place, Sherlock Holmes, The Hobbit, Fahrenheit 451, The Great Gatsby...the list is endless

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    1. I like this list. My favorite Jane Austen is “Persuasion”. The ending literally gives me goosebumps. So dreamy. (Ashamed to admit: Amy Rose again. Should I stop reading the other comments and go do something else now? You have enough books recommended to last a lifetime)

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    2. "Persuasion" is also my favorite Austen.

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    3. Another Persuasion fan here!

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  52. Everything by Chaim Potok, Daphne du Maurier, and Alexander Dumas. Also Nicolas Evans.

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    1. Ooh Yes on Daphne du Maurier, Chaim Potok was a miss for me, kind of disappointed actually, Alexander Dumas is genius, and Nicholas Evans I will have to give a try! (Uh, Amy Rose again. Sorry, you asked about books and I can’t help myself!)

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    2. Ignore Amy Rose - Chaim Potok is amazing. Try The Chosen or (my personal favorite) My Name Is Asher Lev.

      I read The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro, and I've been recommending it left and right ever since.

      And I've seen these above, but I thoroughly second both East of Eden and Huck Finn.

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  53. I just read The Grapes of Wrath, because I was kind of amazed I made it through high school and my English Literature degree without having read it.

    It was wow I don’t know. That population during that time period. I had no idea. I also was saddened by reading the responses of the natives of California.

    I cannot imagine the feeling of seeing your children starve, watching your parents die, and having family members leave with no way of ever communicating again. Then compound that with the fact that you are a honest person willing and able to labor if you just could.

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    1. Devin went through a documentary phase, so he watched a three part documentary on this time period and it was so emotionally draining for me just to listen to the stories. This world can be such a harsh place. Amy Rose, here.

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  54. Here are a few more for your list. None of them are happy (are any of the best books?), but they are all wonderfully written.
    A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean
    Soldier’s Pay, William Faulkner
    Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
    The End of the Affair, Graham Greene
    Giants in the Earth, O.E. Rolvaag

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  55. When I was in high school, I loved A Separate Peace (Knowles) and also Exodus (Leon Iris, not the Bible book)!

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  56. The Martian Chronicles!

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  57. I echo Lord of the Flies! Also, Brighton Rock by Graham Greene or, if you're looking for a weirder classic, The Stranger by Albert Camus is a good one.

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  58. Pride and Prejudice. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
    All books by Agatha Christine.
    The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe.
    Archie comics.

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    1. Excellent list here.

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  59. I actually loved Crime and Punishment. David Copperfield was my favorite Dickens book that I read in high school.

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  60. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde) -- my favorite classic!
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson)
    To Destroy You is No Loss: The Odyssey of a Cambodian Family (Joan D. Criddle)
    Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)
    Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
    Animal Farm (George Orwell)
    Atonement (Ian McEwan)
    The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls)
    The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
    Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman)

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  61. I think we officially have a Strangerville book club!

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    1. Right! Goodreads has a group option that I' haven't used before, but I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to set up. PLEASE make this a thing! Maybe Amy Rose can be an admin for the book club so we don't add one more project to Eli's or Meg's plate. What do y'all think?

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    2. AMY ROSE here and I am so glad I came back for one more peek at the comments section. I don't know exactly how to set this up, but I would be honored to give it a try. There definitely are group forums, and I am in some of them, so it shouldn't be too hard, right? I have almost figured out the twitters, so yeah. I got this.

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  62. I don't think my high school churned out a whole lot of brainiacs. I only had one year of English (my freshman year). Although I had an insatiable appetite for books, I don't recall ever being TOLD to read a specific book. I lived just a few blocks from the library, I could be found in the library nearly every weekend.
    In 2010 I had a terrible head injury and forgot most of my long/short term memories (so maybe I DID read the classics and just don't remember. It took several years to be able to remember what I had read and now I can remember pretty much anything I've read (just don't expect explicit details) I have a kindle and am enjoying reading again. Yippee. Lots of great recomentations from all the commenters. I might just start off with The Count of Monte Cristo. It will still take me a few months. Sometimes I have to re-read entire chapters.

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    1. Have you heard of Cognitive fx? They help people recover from even old concussion injuries. Might be worth looking in to ...

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  63. I took my son to the doctor awhile back and she said 'so, what do you like to be called?' and he said 'well, my friends call me Heck, Heck Tate' So she called him Heck the rest of the appointment. I asked him where he got that and he said 'well duh, To kill a mockingbird' which I've never read and I don't care for classics (too depressing).His friends actually DO call him Heck now.

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    1. This is awesome. Your son sounds like a cool dude.

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  64. There’s very few men I’d recommend this to, but for you I think you’d love anything by Nicholas Sparks. You have just the fruity/fun/quirky personality that I think you would relate to a lot of the stories — as well as the characters! Even some of the women! (Sorry ;) )

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  65. Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Summers Crossing.

    Also loved Steinbeck's East of Eden.

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  66. Putting in additional votes for: Gatsby, Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace, Huck Finn, the Narnia series, The Giver.
    Also, in the vein of the Berenstain Bears, I recently re-read several books in the Boxcar Children series after my parents were cleaning out their attic. Those have always been my favorites.

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  67. In case you were looking for an exhaustive list of every book recommended in the comments (other than those you said you'd already read), in order of number of recommendations, here it is (in two comments, because of character limits):

    Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (9)
    The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (7)
    The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas (7)
    The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (7)
    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (6)
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (5)
    The Giver, by Lois Lowry (5)
    Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë (5)
    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding (5)
    Animal Farm, by George Orwell (4)
    David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens (4)
    The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (4)
    Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier (4)
    The Secret Garden, by Frances Burnett (4)
    Anything by Agatha Christie (3)
    A Separate Peace, by John Knowles (4)
    Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (3)
    East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (3)
    Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (3)
    The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (3)
    The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom (3)
    The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (3)
    Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen (3)
    The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton (3)
    Persuasion, by Jane Austen (3)
    The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (3)
    A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (3)
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith (3)
    Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand (3)
    Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls (3)
    Anything by Jane Austen (2)
    Anything by Ray Bradbury (2)
    Anything by Alexander Dumas (2)
    Anything by Daphne du Maurier (2)
    Anything by Edgar Allan Poe (2)
    1984, by George Orwell (2)
    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (2)
    All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (2)
    Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery (2)
    Anthem, by Ayn Rand (2)
    Catch-22, by Joseph Heller (2)
    Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (2)
    Emma, by Jane Austen (2)
    Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (2)
    The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck (2)
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2)
    Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad (2)
    The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkein (2)
    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (2)
    The Lord of the Rings trilogy, by J. R. R. Tolkein (2)
    Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger (2)
    The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde (2)
    The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux (2)
    Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay (2)
    Sherlock Holmes books and short stories, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (2)
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson (2)
    Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë (2)

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  68. Part 2:

    Anything by Charles Dickens
    Anything by Phillip K. Dick
    Anything by Nicolas Evans
    Anything by Chaim Potok
    Anything by J. R. R. Tolkein
    The Alchemist, by Paul Coelho
    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
    All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
    Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
    Archie Comics
    Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
    Atonement, by Ian McEwan
    Bears in the Night, by Stan and Jan Berenstain
    The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
    The Boxcar Children series, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
    The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown
    Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote
    Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene
    The Chosen, by Chaim Potok
    A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
    The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis
    A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
    Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson
    Dracula, by Bram Stoker
    The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene
    Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing
    Exodus, by Leon Iris
    A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
    The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
    The Fourth Bear, by Jasper Fforde
    Giants in the Earth, by O. E. Rolvaag
    Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
    The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
    Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
    The Halloween Tree, by Ray Bradbury
    The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
    The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
    Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell
    Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach
    The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
    The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper
    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis
    A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
    The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
    Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo
    Measure for Measure, by William Shakespeare
    Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden
    Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville
    The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee, by Marja Mills
    My Ántonia, by Willa Cather
    My Name Is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok
    The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
    O Pioneers!, by Willa Cather
    Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
    On the Beach, by Nevil Shute
    Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie
    The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro
    A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean
    The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
    The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy
    The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd
    Silas Marner, by George Eliot
    Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
    Soldier’s Pay, by William Faulkner
    Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
    The Space Trilogy, by C. S. Lewis
    The Spy, by James Fenimore Cooper
    The Story of Doctor Doolittle, by Hugh Lofting
    The Stranger, by Albert Camus
    Summer Crossing, by Truman Capote
    The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss
    Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë
    Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
    The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
    The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells
    To Destroy You is No Loss: The Odyssey of a Cambodian Family, by Joan D. Criddle
    War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
    War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells
    The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson
    The White Company, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    The Winter of Our Discontent, by John Steinbeck
    A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle

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  69. I loved Great Expectstions so much, I named my firstborn Estella.

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  70. So first of all, I love this blog. Thank you for sharing yourself with all of us :) Second, the only book I was made to read in High School that I loved so much that I actually OWN it is, Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank.
    I second these others aformentioned books: Outsiders,Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe series, Lord of the Rings series (our daughter is named Arwen), and mystery books by Agatha Christie.

    A stellar series written recently is the Flavia DeLuce series by Alan Bradley. First book is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

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  71. Here's another one I didn't see mentioned: Princess Bride. The movie is an alllllll time fave, but the book was a 10000 better, but duh, right?

    I too was a huge fan of LM Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) and read everything she wrote, as well as Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingals Wilder?)

    I'm not quite sure why people loved Animal Farm or Fahrenheit 451 or 1984. I found them horribly depressing and a lesson on why government should always have checks and balances.

    All Quiet on the Western Front opened a whole new understanding of WWI to me.

    Was furious with Les Mis when 2/3 of the way through he started a whole new story line without finishing any of the 5 he already had going on. Never finished it.

    Jane Eyre was the only book I was forced to read in high school that I actually enjoyed, I never finished the forced books, but actually was bummed about not finishing that one.

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  72. The only book I remember reading all the way through in high school was A Prayer for Owen Meany. It was really good, but all I could think of was poor little Simon Birch in the movie version and got confused when they went completely different directions.

    Am I going to hell because I'm still not 100% sure what happens in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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  73. House of Mirth or Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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  74. So as a fellow Bingham grad the books I remember us having to read are:
    Adventures of Huck Finn
    My Antonia
    The Iliad
    The Chosen (the best!)
    Night by Elie Wiesel (also great)
    The Stranger by Albert Camus (horrifying but great)
    Tale of Two Cities
    Heart of Darkness
    Scarlet Letter, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby

    I’ve also been attempting to read all the books I was supposed to and assuage my guilt for the many reports written with help from SparkNotes and pinkmonkey.com. Also, still feel guilty on the regular for turning in a paper for Dances with Wolves even though I didn’t watch the movie until the night after I turned the paper in.


    One of the best books I’ve read as an adult is The Poisonwood Bible- prob too contemporary to be a classic. But life changing.

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