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With so many fantastic genres and authors, how can one person choose the perfect book to match their specific tastes and moods? Here we are happy to help, providing novel descriptions and firsthand reviews on many new and classics along with must reads for any book lover, young and old!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Top Classic Fine Printings

Take a look at our top 25 classic books, that are a MUST read for anyone who enjoys a good book; because, let’s face it ... you cannot fully appreciate today's writing if you couldn't love those who began it all!

1. Silence by Sarah Roche-Mahdi

Silence, translated by Sarah Roche-Mahdi, is a story of a girl who is raised as a boy. She argues that the character, Silence, is caught in the conflict of nature versus nurture as it applies to gender roles while her father, Cador, is caught in the battle between acceptance of the social reality and the possibility of change.

2. The Nibelungenlied by Author Unknown

Written by an unknown author in the twelfth century, this influential tale of murder and revenge reaches back to the earliest epochs of German ancient times. Siegfried, a great prince of the Netherlands, wins the hand of the beautiful princess Kriemhild of Burgundy, by aiding her brother Gunther in his struggle to seduce a powerful Icelandic Queen. But the two women fight, and Siegfried is ultimately destroyed by those he trusts the most. Similar to the Iliad, this expertly crafted tale combines the remains of half forgotten myths to create one of the greatest epic poems.

3. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The night after a shooting star is seen streaking through the sky from Mars, a cylinder is discovered on Horsell Common in London. Naïve locals approach the cylinder armed just with a white flag—only to be quickly killed by an all-destroying heat ray, as terrifying tentacled invaders emerge. Soon the whole of human civilization is under threat as powerful Martians build gigantic killing machines, destroying all life in their path with black gas and burning ray. The forces of Earth, however, may prove harder to beat than they appear.

4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Massachusetts, this tale of an adulterous entanglement resulting in an illegitimate birth engendered the first true heroine of American fiction.

5. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of his Party. Though he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, the symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow worker Julia, but then discovers the true price of freedom … is betrayal.

6. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome and Zeena marry after she nurses his mother in her last illness back to health. Although Frome seems ambitious and intelligent, Zeena holds him back. When her cousin Mattie comes to stay on their New England farm, Frome falls in love with her. But the social conventions of the day doom their love and hopes.

7. Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sit back and wade past tense introductions in A Study in Scarlet and move forward into classic tales like The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, and The Final Problem, the reader is sure to draw their own conclusions about Holmes's veiled past and his odd relationship with "Boswell" Watson.

8. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This novel details the two days in the life of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield after he has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned, he searches for truth and rails against the "phoniness" of the adult world. He ends up exhausted and emotionally ill, in a psychiatrist's office.

9. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

Phaedrus, the narrator, takes a present tense cross-country motorcycle trip with his son during which the maintenance of their motorcycle becomes an illustration of how we can unify the cold, rational land of technology with the warm, imaginative land of artistry. Just like with Zen, the trick is to become one with the activity and engage in it fully, in order to see and appreciate all details, whether it be hiking in the woods, writing a novel, or tightening the chain of a motorcycle.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, this novel follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman.

11. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

For three years, ever since his father died, Charles has been loitering around the family's crumbling seaside estate near Dublin, drinking and watching old movies. His sister, Bel, and everyone else, view him as a shiftless drunkard, and Charles's own narration leaves little doubt whose judgment is more correct. Then the reappearance of Charles's mother, (who's been away at a clinic for alcoholics and is now determined to change the rest of the family) means that his allowance is immediately cut off and he's required to get a job. This obviously proves to be very difficult, since Charles has never labored a day in his life. Meanwhile, the family's Bosnian housekeeper smuggles her grown-up children into the country, and Bel starts a theater company with the housekeeper's beautiful daughter, Mirela, who's much too clever for infatuated Charles.

12. The Strenuous Life by Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt carefully crafted an image of himself as a self-made man. Though he had a big head start in coming from one of New York's wealthiest and best-connected families. More than just shaping his body to overcome weakness, his spirit to overcome fear, he had to overcome the prejudices of his time and class in order to be truly fit for leadership, and even as President he fought with a few contradictions. He was not always successful, but emerged in the end as a great champion of civil rights and of the middle and working classes, very much ahead of his time.

13. All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarq

This war novel is actually an anti-war novel, following the lives and losses of a young group of soldiers caught in the brutality of World War I. Mesmerizing, realistic, and intense with a vision not consistent with post-war Germany, this book caused Remarque to receive death threats and have to leave Germany to live and work in Hollywood.

14. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Following the downfall of bloodthirsty buccaneer Captain Flint, young Jim Hawkins finds himself with the key to a fortune. He has discovered a map that will lead him to the legendary Treasure Island. But a mass of villains, wild animals and deadly savages stand between him and the store of gold. Not to mention the most infamous pirate ever to sail the high seas.

15. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

"Community, Identity, Stability" is the motto of the utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of “soma”, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is "Feelie," a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a woman has the possibility to be much more than the limitations of their way of life allows.

16. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

This is a story told by sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaling ship Pequod. The ship is commanded by Captain Ahab and Ishmael soon learns that Ahab does not mean to use the Pequod and its crew to hunt whales for market trade, as whaling ships generally do. Ahab looks for one specific whale, Moby Dick, a great white whale of remarkable size and strength. In a prior encounter, Moby Dick destroyed Ahab's ship and resulted in the loss of one of Ahab’s legs. Ahab now intends to exact revenge on the whale.

17. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of War was compiled more than two and a half thousand years ago by a mysterious warrior/philosopher, Sun Tzu. This book is still considered the most influential book of strategy in the world, studied by modern politicians, executives, and military leaders. The book is rumored to have possibly influenced Napoleon, and even the planning of Operation Desert Storm. Many current influential leaders have also claimed to have drawn inspiration from the work.

18. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This is a classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires; though the situation soon deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away. Golding's gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition.

19. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

While sailing to Port Jackson in Australia a family is shipwrecked in the East Indies. The family finds themselves stranded on a deserted island, and has to learn to live off the land. There are many dangers and conflicts the family must learn to overcome in order to survive.

20. Call of the Wild by Jack London

Call of the Wild follows a previously domesticated and even somewhat pampered dog named Buck, whose primal instincts return after a series of events finds him serving as a sled dog in the treacherous, cold Yukon during the days of the 19th-century Klondike Gold Rushes in which sled dogs were bought at generous prices.

21. White Fang by Jack London

During the Gold Rush days, prowling canine killers hunt in packs and search for their next victim. Sadistic dog trainers look for easy money. And the invincible spirit of a vicious wolf roams free until he receives a human being's love and understanding. The classic sequel to The Call of the Wild chronicles the life story of White Fang from birth until his eventual domestication. The fast paced action of White Fang never lets up with danger always waiting beyond the next pile of snow or beneath the claws of a snarling predator.

22. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

In Hertfordshire, far, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (a country squire of no great means and his scatterbrained wife) must marry off their five lively daughters. At the center of all this is the headstrong second daughter Elizabeth and her suitor Darcy, two lovers in which pride and prejudice must be overcome before love can bring the novel to its fantastic conclusion.

23. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

This is a tragic tale of a mentally disabled man and his closest friend who loves and tries to protect him from the evil of their time.

24. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Written and set in the Alcott family home, in 19th-century New England, the novel follows the lives of four sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March and their trials and tribulations of growing up while their father is off at war.

25. The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald

This story is about self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby and his rise to glory and eventual fall from grace which becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream and the trials of love.

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