12. The Magus by John Fowles
Even people who have read and loved The French Lieutenant’s Woman may not know about this crazy part romance, part horror, part Gothic book, in which nothing and no one is what it seems.
13. in our time by Ernest Hemingway
The lower case name is the correct, if affected, author’s choice of title for the first big published book of Ernest Hemingway’s heartbreaking stories. When you read this, you see just why his style was so imitated, and why it never could be copied. Ever.
14. Different Seasons by Stephen King
Speaking of great short-story stylists, this is my living favorite. While I don’t run to buy every new Stephen King novel, I would fight anyone who thinks that "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" and "The Body" don’t compare favorably to just about anything.
15. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Often cited as sporting the best first paragraph in all prose, this story is still as paralyzingly scary as it was the day it was written.
16. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
My mother said that this novel of prewar Russia and the foolish and beautiful Anna was a story that “took all the fun out of adultery.” So true.
17. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
Having read this book before the amazing characterization of Hannibal Lecter by Anthony Hopkins, I was the only person on earth who thought that this prequel to The Silence of the Lambs was even more gruesome and terrifying.
18. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
Another Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the Civil War? Yes! This is the story of the longest days of our nation’s lives, three hot sunsets in Gettysburg, and why even the beautiful and brave can be wrong, and the glum, stubborn and foolish as right as dawn.
19. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
The story of two couples growing "up" together is as true a story about loyalty and its limits as any I’ve ever read.
20. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Often described as the chronicle of the so-called Jazz Age, this is really a story about the haves and how they think of the have-nots, because they are helpless to think of them any other way. You might call it a 1920s tale of the 1 percent.
21. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
Those who think of this small book about a gallant spider’s fight to save the life of a runt pig as a children’s story are letting children have all the fun.
Also of Interest
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- 10 drugs that may cause memory loss
- Share your wisdom and experience — help a child learn to read
- Join the discussion: What song brings back memories?
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