My Booklist

Extra Credit

  • 41 Stories

    by O. Henry Year Published: Average
    To readers all over the world, O. Henry- one of ht emost famous pen names in history- means the very best in short story writing. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, O. Henry's writing has entertained and delighted each generation with its exceptional inventiveness, dazzling wordplay, and wry combinations of pathos and humor. This collection of forty-one of O. Henry's finest stories includes both his most famous works, such as "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Furnished Room" and those which demonstrate his extraordinary technical genius. Arranged according to geographic location, these tales display the wide range of O. Henry's world, from the streets of his beloved New York City to exotic locales south of the border. With his wonderful plot twists, surprise endings, and deep insights into human nature, O. Henry continues to touch the imaginations and the hearts of each new generation of readers.
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  • A People's History of America

    by Howard Zinn Year Published: Average
    Consistently lauded for its lively, readable prose, this revised and updated edition of A People's History of the United States turns traditional textbook history on its head. Howard Zinn infuses the often-submerged voices of blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, and poor laborers of all nationalities into this thorough narrative that spans American history from Christopher Columbus's arrival to an afterword on the Clinton presidency. Addressing his trademark reversals of perspective, Zinn--a teacher, historian, and social activist for more than 20 years--explains, "My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all)--that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth." If your last experience of American history was brought to you by junior high school textbooks--or even if you're a specialist--get ready for the other side of stories you may not even have heard. With its vivid descriptions of rarely noted events, A People's History of the United States is required reading for anyone who wants to take a fresh look at the rich, rocky history of America. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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  • Celtic Myths and Legends

    by T. W. Rolleston Year Published: Average
    Masterful retelling of Irish and Welsh stories and tales of the Ultonian and Ossianic cycles, the voyage of Maeldun, and the myths and tales of the Cymry (Welsh). Favorite and familiar stories of Cuchulain, King Arthur, Deirdre, the Grail, many more.
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  • Death of a Salesman

    by Arthur Miller Year Published: Easy Reading
    A famous American play about a door-to-door salesman and his relationship with his sons.
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  • Druids

    by Morgan Llwelyn Year Published: Average
    As every Latin student knows, ancient Gaul was divided into three parts, all conquered by Caesar. Llywelyn tells of that conquest from the viewpoint of the defeated Gauls. Her story is told by the Druid Ainvar, whose"soul friend" Vercingetorix leads the Gauls in their doomed defense of freedom. Llywelyn is most successful in her evocation of Celtic culture and Druidic beliefs, based on harmony with nature. Once Caesar and Vercingetorix join battle, however, the story bogs down in endless marches, raids, and battles. The characters serve the needs of the plot admirably but are never fully fleshed out and compelling in their own right. Less successful than Llywelyn's earlier novels (e.g. Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas , LJ 3/1/86), this one is still likely to please those who enjoy meticulously crafted historical fiction.
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  • First Man in Rome

    by Colleen McCullough Year Published: Challenging
    If nothing else, this hefty tome, the first of a projected series, proves that McCullough ( The Thornbirds ) can write a serious historical novel that edifies while it entertains. Evoking with impeccably researched, meticulous detail the political and social fabric of Rome in the last days of the Republic, McCullough demonstrates a thoroughgoing understanding of an age in which birth and blood lines determine one's fate, and the auctoritas and dignitas of the Roman family mean more than any personal relationship. When the narrative opens in 110 B.C., this rigidly stratified social order has begun to erode. The protagonist, Gaius Marius, is the symbol of that gradual change. He is the embodiment of the novel's title, a genuine New Man who transcends his Italian origins and earns the ultimate political accolade--the consulship--for an unprecedented six terms. A brilliant military leader, Marius defeats the invading barbarian German tribes. Wily, shrewd and pragmatic, Marius is not above using bribery and chicanery to achieve political ends. Nor, indeed, are his fellow officials, whose sophisticated machinations are in odd juxtaposition with their penchant for jeering at one another, which leads to fisticuffs, brawls and even assassinations. As usual, McCullough tells a good story, describing political intrigue, social infighting and bloody battles with authoritative skill, interpolating domestic drama and even a soupcon of romance. The glossary alone makes fascinating reading; in it, for example, McCullough reasons that Roman men did not wear "under-drawers." The narrative's measured pace, however, is further slowed by the characters' cumbersome names, which require concentrated attention. Those willing to hunker down for a stretch of close reading will be rewarded with a memorable picture of an age with many aspects that share characteristics ontemporaneous with our own. Maps and illustrations by the author. 300,000 first printing; BOMC main selection; author tour. (Oct.).
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  • Great Expectations

    by Landon Jones Year Published: Challenging
    This an excellent account of how baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have transformed American society.
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  • Julius Caesar

    by William Shakespeare Year Published: Average
    The passionate Shakespearean play about Julius Ceasar, Marc Anthony and Brutus.
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  • MacBeth

    by William Shakespeare Year Published: Average
    This is the best of Shakespeare's tragedies, If you choose this for extra credit you must do more than simply summarize the story. You must apply the play to the 21st century and demonstrate how human affairs have changed little. For, "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace to the last syllable of recorded time."
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  • Of Mice and Men

    by John Steinbeck Year Published: Easy Reading
    John Steinbeck writes of such a trip in OF MICE AND MEN: the desperate longing of men for some kind of home-roots that they can believe in, land that they can care for-and the painful search for self. This beautiful, timeless novel speaks of the love that men can feel for each other-one inarticulate, dumb, sometimes violent in his need; the other clever, hopeful, and tied to a responsibility he doesn't want.
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  • Old Man and the Sea

    by Ernest Hemmingway Year Published: Easy Reading
    Here, for a change, is a fish tale that actually does honor to the author. In fact The Old Man and the Sea revived Ernest Hemingway's career, which was foundering under the weight of such postwar stinkers as Across the River and into the Trees. It also led directly to his receipt of the Nobel Prize in 1954 (an award Hemingway gladly accepted, despite his earlier observation that "no son of a bitch that ever won the Nobel Prize ever wrote anything worth reading afterwards"). A half century later, it's still easy to see why. This tale of an aged Cuban fisherman going head-to-head (or hand-to-fin) with a magnificent marlin encapsulates Hemingway's favorite motifs of physical and moral challenge. Yet Santiago is too old and infirm to partake of the gun-toting machismo that disfigured much of the author's later work: "The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords." Hemingway's style, too, reverts to those superb snapshots of perception that won him his initial fame: Just before it was dark, as they passed a great island of Sargasso weed that heaved and swung in the light sea as though the ocean were making love with something under a yellow blanket, his small line was taken by a dolphin. He saw it first when it jumped in the air, true gold in the last of the sun and bending and flapping wildly in the air. If a younger Hemingway had written this novella, Santiago most likely would have towed the enormous fish back to port and posed for a triumphal photograph--just as the author delighted in doing, circa 1935. Instead his prize gets devoured by a school of sharks. Returning with little more than a skeleton, he takes to his bed and, in the very last line, cements his identification with his creator: "The old man was dreaming about the lions." Perhaps there's some allegory of art and experience floating around in there somewhere--but The Old Man and the Sea was, in any case, the last great catch of Hemingway's career.
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  • Oliver Twist

    by Charles Dickens Year Published: Average
    A Twist of Beauty and inviting design may inspire readers of a newly abridged edition of Charles Dickens's classic Oliver Twist to join the hero in asking, please sir, for more. Christian Birmingham spots nearly every page of text with a small, charcoal-gray image, and complements important scenes with full-page color illustrations. Birmingham's hues are predominantly deep, somber and gritty, but not without occasional flashes of royal blues and golds. Text is shaded in the faintest yellow, soft on the eye.
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  • Pennsylvania Dutch: The Amish and the Mennonites

    by Kem Knapp Sawyer Year Published: Easy Reading
    Often referred to as the "Pannsylvania Dutch" the Amish and the Mennonites living in the United States today have had to struggle to live their lives in a simple, noncompetitive way, choosing to remain true to the values and teachings of their forefathers, and avoid "worldly" pressures of modern day society. This small anthology of primary source documents presents some of the backround on the Amish and the Mennonites, and exerpts from their members relating to daily lifestyles and customs, refusal to take up arms, education of their children, their contribution in the arts and crafts, and the challenges they face in keeping younger members within the fold.
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  • People of the Wolf

    by Gear and Gear Year Published: Average
    In the dawn of history, a valiant people forged a pathway from an old world into a new one. Led by a dreamer who followed the spirit of the wolf, a handful of courageous men and women dared to cross the frozen wastes to find an untouched, unspoiled continent. This is the magnificent saga of the vision-filled man who led his people to an awesome destiny, and the courageous woman whose love and bravery drove them on in pursuit of that dream.A sweeping epic of prehistory, People of the Wolf brings the true story of the ancestors of today's Native American peoples to life in an unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion.
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  • Pygmalion

    by George Bernard Shaw Year Published: Average
    .Shaw radically reworks Ovid's tale with a feminist twist: while Henry Higgins successfully teaches Eliza Doolittle to speak and act like a duchess, she adamantly refuses to be his creation. First produced in 1914, it remains one of Shaw's most popular plays.
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  • Siddhartha

    by Hermann Hesse Year Published: Average
    In the shade of a banyan tree, a grizzled ferryman sits listening to the river. Some say he's a sage. He was once a wandering shramana and, briefly, like thousands of others, he followed Gotama the Buddha, enraptured by his sermons. But this man, Siddhartha, was not a follower of any but his own soul. Born the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha was blessed in appearance, intelligence, and charisma. In order to find meaning in life, he discarded his promising future for the life of a wandering ascetic. Still, true happiness evaded him. Then a life of pleasure and titillation merely eroded away his spiritual gains until he was just like all the other "child people," dragged around by his desires. Like Hermann Hesse's other creations of struggling young men, Siddhartha has a good dose of European angst and stubborn individualism. His final epiphany challenges both the Buddhist and the Hindu ideals of enlightenment. Neither a practitioner nor a devotee, neither meditating nor reciting, Siddhartha comes to blend in with the world, resonating with the rhythms of nature, bending the reader's ear down to hear answers from the river. In this translation Sherab Chodzin Kohn captures the slow, spare lyricism of Siddhartha's search, putting her version on par with Hilda Rosner's standard edition.
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  • The Call of the Wild

    by Jack London Year Published: Easy Reading
    The Call of The Wild is a gripping tale of a heroic dog who, thrust into the brutal life of the Alaskan Gold Rush, ultimately faces a choice between living in a man's world and returning to nature.
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  • The Road Not Taken and Other Poems

    by Robert Frost Year Published: Easy Reading
    This volume contains many of Frost's finest and most moving poems. In addition to the title poem: "An Old Man's Winter Night," "In the Home Stretch," "Meeting and Passing," "Putting in the Seed," "A Time to Talk," and many more.
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  • The Things They Carried

    by Tim O'Brien Year Published: Easy Reading
    A great memoir of a rifleman's experience in Vietnam and his reflections before he entered and after of the war effort and his country's reactions.
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  • Twelfth Night

    by William Shakespeare Year Published: Challenging
    "Twelfth Night" is the story of Orsino, a nobleman in the kingdom if Illyria. Following a shipwreck Orsino employs Viola, who when abandoned by the shipwreck disguises herself as a man named Cesario. Soon Viola falls in love with Orsino, however Orsino is in love with Lady Olivia who has fallen for Viola, believing her to be a man. "Twelfth Night" is a classic Shakespearean comedy of mistaken identities.
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  • Twice-Told Tales

    by Nathaniel Hawthorne Year Published: Average
    Twice-Told Tales is one of the few books in American literature which caused a book review of it to become more famous than the initial work itself. This collection of short stories was first published in 1837, and expanded for a second edition in 1842/ That same year, Edgar Allen Poe reviewed it for Graham's Magazine. Poe's review has become famous because it was the first American attampt to define the genre of the short story, short pieces of prose fiction, more commonly called "tales" in the Nineteenth Century. Poe's Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840) and Nathaniel Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales (1842) marked the first significant collections of short stories in American literature. To Nathaniel Hawthorne, this collection of tales was more than an effort to provide a critical base for the short story. It was the occasion of his first successful book and it marked the result of twelve years of work and lonliness and frustration in the literary craft.
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British Literature

  • 1984

    by George Orwell Year Published: Challenging
    This is the ultimate dystopia, a world which is the opposite of perfect. If you have ever heard of Big Brother (not the TV show), the government that is watching the citizens all the time, the idea originiated in this book. It is a difficult read and is very philosophical, but it is rewarding for those who enjoy philosophical and political books.
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  • Great Expectations

    by Charles Dickens Year Published: Average
    Dickens was a master of intricate plots and farcical humor, but he was such an amazing writer that it never becomes silly. This is one of his best books.
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  • Treasure Island

    by Robert Louis Stevenson Year Published: Average
    This is the first and best pirate story in literature. Most pirate stories, from Pirates of the Caribbean to Muppet Treasure Island, draw on this story to some extent. It is short and exciting.
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American Literature

  • East of Eden

    by John Steinbeck Year Published: Average
    This is one of the best novels ever written. It is the story of two families in California, but it also parallels the Biblical stories of Genesis.
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  • Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

    by Edgar Allan Poe Year Published: Challenging
    Poe only wrote one novel, but his poetry and short stories are excellent. The best word to describe Poe would be "dark," I think. His stories are gloomy, creepy, depressing, and sometimes blood-curdling. His poetry is similar and also has a rhythm found nowhere else. Additionally, Poe was one of the earliest creators of detective stories. "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore.'"
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  • The Old Man and the Sea

    by Ernest Hemingway Year Published: Easy Reading
    This is a very short book about an old man's night-time fishing trip. It is brief, yet still excellent.
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  • The Scarlet Letter

    by Nathaniel Hawthorne Year Published: Challenging
    In Puritan New England, Hester Prynne is an outcast because she has a daughter, yet is unmarried. She is forced to wear a bright red "A" on her dress. Hawthorne's story of social pressure, deception, and secrets is a classic.
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World Literature

  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold

    by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Year Published: Average
    This brief novel is an interesting examination of events in a small town that lead to the death of one of the citizens. Several different viewpoints/perspectives are examined.
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  • Diary of a Young Girl

    by Anne Frank Year Published: Average
    Anne Frank's diary is a classic. She hid with her parents and others for several years in a small apartment. Despite her youth and this limited range of experiences, her daily musings are fascinating and her insight into human nature is remarkable.
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  • The Count of Monte Cristo

    by Alexandre Dumas Year Published: Challenging
    This is an amazing story of revenge--the most powerful and complex revenge scheme I've ever read. The unabridged version is over 1500 pages, but there are abridgements if that seems too long.
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  • Things Fall Apart

    by Chinua Achebe Year Published: Average
    This African novel tells of Okonkwo, a tribal leader dealing with the pressures of family and the encroaching modern world. It is an excellent book.
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Classical Literature

  • Mythology

    by Thomas Bulfinch Year Published: Challenging
    This is the classic work on mythology. It is a fantastic reference, but I don't know if I would want to read it straight through.
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  • The Aeneid

    by Virgil Year Published: Challenging
    Virgil's classic story tells of Aeneas' escape from Troy, his tragic love affair with Queen Dido of Carthage, and his eventual relocation in Italy, where his descendants Romulus and Remus founded Rome. The translation by Robert Fagles is phenomenal.
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  • The Iliad

    by Homer Year Published: Challenging
    I love this book. It tells the bloody story of the Trojan War, when the Greeks attacked Troy because the Trojans abducted the most beautiful woman in history, Helen of Troy. This translation by Robert Fagles is fantastic.
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  • The Odyssey

    by Homer Year Published: Challenging
    Many students read this in school, but it is such a great adventure story and Odysseus is the quintessential hero--brave, clever, inventive, and powerful. Robert Fagles's translation is excellent.
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Science Fiction and Fantasy

  • A Wizard of Earthsea

    by Ursula Le Guin Year Published: Challenging
    Le Guin writes very literary and intelligent fantasy stories. This novel is about a young wizard who accidentally brings a great evil into the world and must battle to destroy it. There are five books in the Earthsea cycle; the odd numbered books are excellent (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Farthest Shore, and The Other Wind) while the even numbers are forgettable (The Tombs of Atuan and Tehanu).
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  • Bone

    by Jeff Smith Year Published: Easy Reading
    The graphic novel is spectacular. It looks like a cross between Pogo and Calvin and Hobbes, but the storyline has more in common with The Lord of the Rings. There are nine separate books, but it is also available in a one-volume edition.
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  • Dune

    by Frank Herbert Year Published: Average
    A classic science fiction story about a desert planet and its new ruling family. It has everything--duels, battles, political intrigue, giant sandworms, rebels...don't miss it. There are six books in the series, but the later ones aren't as good as the first.
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  • Journey to the Center of the Earth

    by Jules Verne Year Published: Easy Reading
    Verne, along with H.G. Wells, created the genre of science fiction. When I was younger I absolutely loved this book about three men who journey into a volcano and find strange creatures and entire new worlds in the earth's core. I've probably read it more often than any other book (with the possible exception of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).
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  • Stardust

    by Neil Gaiman Year Published: Average
    This is a novel with around 150 oil paintings by Charles Vess to illustrate it. It is about a boy who enters the Fairy World to fetch a fallen star for the girl he loves.
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  • The Chronicles of Narnia

    by C.S. Lewis Year Published: Easy Reading
    This is one of my favorite series. I read it for the first time when I was in elementary school and still enjoy rereading it. There are seven books in all, but be careful, because they have been renumbered for some reason. This is the order in which you should read them: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; A Horse and His Boy; The Magician's Nephew; The Last Battle. I would give these more than five stars if I could.
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  • The Color of Magic

    by Terry Pratchett Year Published: Average
    This is a funny British fantasy. Terry Pratchett is quite clever and humorous. It is a very fast read.
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  • The Hunger Games

    by Suzanne Collins Year Published: Challenging

    Note: This book is available in our Library.
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  • The Lord of the Rings

    by J.R.R. Tolkien Year Published: Average
    I think everyone knows about this series, but it is fantastic.
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Contemporary Fiction

  • Ella Minnow Pea

    by Mark Dunn Year Published: Average
    This is a very funny book about a small fictional island nation that through a quirk must eliminate certain letters from their writing. For example, it becomes illegal to use the letter "Q." Eventually more and more letters are outlawed. Hilarity ensues.
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  • How Green Was My Valley

    by Richard Llewellyn Year Published: Average
    Llewellyn was a Welsh author and his masterpiece is about a family of coalminers trying to survive during times of low wages and lost work.
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  • Master and Commander

    by Patrick O'Brian Year Published: Challenging
    There are 20 books in O'Brian's series about two men, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. Aubrey is a captain in the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars and Maturin is the surgeon on his ship. The characters are well-written and the action scenes are superb.
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  • Patriot Games

    by Tom Clancy Year Published: Average
    Tom Clancy writes military stories and is an excellent storyteller. His plots are incredibly complex. Each of his books is quite long but is engaging and enjoyable. Patriot Games is the first in a series of books about a CIA analyst named Jack Ryan.
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  • Sharpe's Tiger

    by Bernard Cornwell Year Published: Average
    There are over twenty books in the Richard Sharpe series. I have only read one (Sharpe's Rifles), but it is quite good. Sharpe is a soldier in the British Army during the early 1800s and Cornwell's writing is both informative and exciting. This is the first book in the series.
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  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    by Mark Haddon Year Published: Average
    This murder mystery is both funny and sad. An autistic boy decides to solve the mystery of the neighbor's dog, which was killed during the night.
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  • The Haunting of Hill House

    by Shirley Jackson Year Published: Average
    If you like creepy stories, this is a good book for you. A small group of strangers meets in an old castle, but the castle may have secrets...
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