The best classic books

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2,092 authors created a book list connected to classics, and here are their favorite classic books.
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The Great Gatsby

By F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Book cover of The Great Gatsby

Anne De Courcy Author Of Magnificent Rebel: Nancy Cunard in Jazz Age Paris

From the list on the social history of the inter-war years.

Who am I?

Social history has always been my passion: unless you know how people thought, felt and lived, even down to how they dressed and ate, it is often impossible to understand why they acted as they did. And no period is as fascinating to me as the inter-war years; after WW1, the greatest conflict the world had ever seen, the upcoming generations determined to break barriers, discard the last vestiges of what they saw as hidebound custom, to invent new, freer ways of writing, painting, dancing - and to have fun. And for most of this post-war generation, there was nowhere like Paris.

Anne's book list on the social history of the inter-war years

Discover why each book is one of Anne's favorite books.

Why did Anne love this book?

This is peak F. Scott Fitzgerald, a story of love and longing written in a style that relies as much on nuance as flat statement, where not a word is wasted, and the reader joins the narrator as witness of the unfolding drama, with Fitzgerald’s keen observation of place a time sharpening every scene.

The Great Gatsby

By F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Great Gatsby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the summer unfolds, Nick is drawn into Gatsby's world of luxury cars, speedboats and extravagant parties. But the more he hears about Gatsby - even from what Gatsby himself tells him - the less he seems to believe. Did he really go to Oxford University? Was Gatsby a hero in the war? Did he once kill a man? Nick recalls how he comes to know Gatsby and how he also enters the world of his cousin Daisy and her wealthy husband Tom. Does their money make them any happier? Do the stories all connect? Shall we come to know…


Dirty Snow

By Georges Simenon, Marc Romano (translator),

Book cover of Dirty Snow

Anthony Carinhas Author Of Sorrow's Garden: A Novel

From the list on the terrors of nihilism.

Who am I?

From the time I was introduced to Depeche Mode, I quickly realized there was an underground scene dissecting the darker realms of human nature. It’s no easy task translating emotion into tangible products like film, books, and music, so if an artist can fixate an audience by getting them to interpret themselves and, the world, more effectively, there’s great value in that. If it hadn’t been for that, I probably wouldn’t have achieved things like being an award-winning author, a paralegal from the University of Texas at Austin, manage workshops via Airbnb Experiences, or receive academic certificates thru Coursera like the Science of Well-Being from Yale and Managing the Company of the Future from London Business School.


Anthony's book list on the terrors of nihilism

Discover why each book is one of Anthony's favorite books.

Why did Anthony love this book?

Simenon is a master storyteller and father of the noir genre. He quit school as a teenager and never attended a writing program. Dirty Snow is filled with psychological insight and hard facts about life. The main character, Frank Friedmaier, is a brawny young man who lives in his mother’s brothel in France under German occupation. A horrible crime, along with heinous acts, are committed because he cares about nothing and does things without reason. His life is deprived of a father and that void quickly becomes occupied by whores that facilitate a man without optimism. Simenon vividly takes us on a trip into the mind of a creature that can be uncomfortable for a lot of people. This is yet another dark classic about an anti-hero challenged by the notion that he is a man like any other.

Dirty Snow

By Georges Simenon, Marc Romano (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dirty Snow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nineteen-year-old Frank Friedmaier lives in a country under occupation. Most people struggle to get by; Frank takes it easy in his mother's whorehouse, which caters to members of the occupying forces. But Frank is restless. He is a pimp, a thug, a petty thief, and, as Dirty Snowopens, he has just killed his first man. Through the unrelenting darkness and cold of an endless winter, Frank will pursue abjection until at last there is nowhere to go.

 

Hans Koning has described Dirty Snow as "one of the very few novels to come out of German-occupied France that gets it exactly…


The Bell Jar

By Sylvia Plath,

Book cover of The Bell Jar

Michelle L. Teichman Author Of The Space Between

From the list on young adult books for women of all ages.

Who am I?

At heart, I’m still just a girl. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of wanting to experience the excitement of first kisses, first loves, and of coming out, when everything was new and exciting, and the world was full of promise. That’s why we return to YA even as adults. To feel the butterflies of a first crush, the fluttering of first love, and the agony of first loss. Those transformative books, the ones that change the trajectory of our lives, are usually young adult novels. I wrote The Space Between to give readers a story to fall in love with and take with them the rest of their lives.

Michelle's book list on young adult books for women of all ages

Discover why each book is one of Michelle's favorite books.

Why did Michelle love this book?

The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath’s answer to J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye for women.

In today’s modern world, where we no longer have to view ourselves and our lives through the lens of white men, The Bell Jar takes the reader through a journey of self-discovery and madness in America in the 1960s; a time of change, war, uprising, and the second wave of feminism. A must-read for any woman who has questioned herself, or her sanity, along the way.

The Bell Jar

By Sylvia Plath,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Bell Jar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I was supposed to be having the time of my life.

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther's life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women's aspirations seriously.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath's only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria…


Black Gold

By Marguerite Henry,

Book cover of Black Gold

Dawn LeFevre Author Of Racetrack Rogues: One Woman's Story of Family, Love, and Loss in the Horse Racing World

From the list on horse racing.

Who am I?

Growing up, I was one of “those” horse-crazy girls who devoured every Black Stallion and Marguerite Henry book that I could get my hands on. At sixteen I began working at Atlantic City Racecourse in the summer and after I graduated college with a B.S. in Animal Science, I became a trainer of Thoroughbred racehorses. For thirteen wonderful years, I raced horses in New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. Due to my insider’s knowledge of the horse racing industry, I based my book selections on accuracy as well as story.

Dawn's book list on horse racing

Discover why each book is one of Dawn's favorite books.

Why did Dawn love this book?

While I loved all of Marguerite’s horse books as a child this one was my favorite. This may be listed as a “children’s book” but the story is in no way “dumbed down” nor is the cruel treatment of Black Gold by his trainer glossed over. Featuring the charming illustrations of Wesley Dennis, Black Gold is a sweet but ultimately tragic underdog story.

Black Gold

By Marguerite Henry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Gold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No one thinks much of Black Gold because he is so small. But Jaydee sees something special in his eyes. He knows Black Gold would be great if he was his rider! Finally, Jaydee gets his wish. And Black Gold grows strong and fast under his careful hands. Soon it would be time for the most important race in America. Did they really have what it takes to win? Black Gold's inspirational story proves that the power of love and dedication can make any dream come true.
Set against the thrilling and colorful world of Thoroughbred horses, Black Gold is…


The Little Prince

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Richard Howard (translator),

Book cover of The Little Prince

Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani Author Of Becoming Flawesome: The Key to Living an Imperfectly Authentic Life

From the list on personal growth and transformation.

Who am I?

As a co-founder of Mindvalley, one of the world’s biggest platforms for personal growth and transformation education, I have dedicated over 20 years of my life to this industry. I have worked with some of the world’s best authors and speakers, and I have witnessed transformation in millions of our students. One of the very common questions that I get is “What is your book recommendation?” And my answer never fails to surprise the inquirer.

Kristina's book list on personal growth and transformation

Discover why each book is one of Kristina's favorite books.

Why did Kristina love this book?

The Little Prince is an existentialist philosophical story about life is not a question.

That it is full of wisdom and warmth does not need arguing. Yet with all its merits, what I love the most about this work of fiction is that it is romantically poetic - it is truly “only with the heart that one can see rightly,” and this work is to be read with one’s heart wide open.

The Little Prince

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Richard Howard (translator),

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Little Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as 'The Little Prince'. Richard Howard's new translation of the beloved classic-published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's birth-beautifully reflects Saint-Exupery's unique and gifted style. Howard, an acclaimed poet and one of the preeminent translators of our time, has excelled in bringing the English text as close as possible to the French, in language, style, and most important, spirit. The artwork in this new edition has been restored to match in detail and in colour Saint-Exupery's original artwork. By combining the new…


Native Son

By Richard Wright,

Book cover of Native Son

Kia Corthron Author Of The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter

From the list on the intersection of race, class, and justice in America.

Who am I?

I grew up as an African American in the Maryland Appalachian valley, a town that was ninety-five percent white. My father worked for the paper mill and would bring home reams of paper, pens, pencils. I began playing with the stuff—making up stories and stapling them into books, the raw beginnings of a future novelist. Separately, I created dialogue, using clothespins as people: a burgeoning playwright. (We were not destitute—my sister and I had toys! But those makeshift playthings worked best for my purposes.) So, given my working-class racial minority origins, it was rather inevitable that I would be drawn to stories addressing class and race. 

Kia's book list on the intersection of race, class, and justice in America

Discover why each book is one of Kia's favorite books.

Why did Kia love this book?

Unless your first reading has been spoiled by a movie or CliffsNotes, I don’t believe you can fail to be stunned by Wright’s 1940 eons-ahead-of-its-time pièce de résistance. While much has been written addressing racial bias in the courtroom (that is, if the defendant survives the initial encounter with police), the author took the outlandish step of providing head-spinning complexity: presenting a culpable protagonist, albeit one whose crime against an affluent young white woman came about unwittingly, having everything to do with his knowledge that he, a Black man, would invariably be perceived as guilty. Wright never lets us off the hook, forcing readers of all hues to consider the entanglements of race, class, and jurisprudence, beginning the day those of us who are not white and/or privileged are born.

Native Son

By Richard Wright,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Native Son as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reissued to mark the 80th anniversary of Native Son's publication - discover Richard Wright's brutal and gripping masterpiece this black history month.

'[Native Son] possesses an artistry, penetration of thought, and sheer emotional power that places it into the front rank of American fiction' Ralph Ellison

Reckless, angry and adrift, Bigger Thomas has grown up trapped in a life of poverty in the slums of Chicago. But a job with the affluent Dalton family provides the setting for a catastrophic collision between his world and theirs. Hunted by citizen and police alike, and baited by prejudiced officials, Bigger finds himself…


The Day of the Locust

By Nathanael West,

Book cover of The Day of the Locust

Andy Marx Author Of Royalties

From the list on show business.

Who am I?

I’m Andy Marx and I am definitely a child of Hollywood. My paternal grandfather was the comic icon, Groucho Marx, and my maternal grandfather was the legendary songwriter, Gus Kahn, who wrote such classic songs as “It Had To Be You,” “Makin’ Whoopee!” and “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” After working as a film publicist on a number of films including, Terminator and Red Dragon, I launched my journalism career writing about Hollywood for such publications as The Los Angeles Times, and Daily Variety. I also co-founded the satirical website, Hollywood & Swine, which poked fun of Hollywood, not a terribly hard thing to do. 

Andy's book list on show business

Discover why each book is one of Andy's favorite books.

Why did Andy love this book?

This is one of the first Hollywood novels I ever read and it has stayed with me ever since. This book is great because instead of focusing on superstars, it’s the story of the behind-the-scenes people working in Hollywood, who haven’t hit the big-time yet and are just trying to survive. What makes the book so remarkable is that West could’ve been writing about any industry but uses Hollywood as a metaphor for many of society’s ills that were rampant in the 1930s.

The Day of the Locust

By Nathanael West,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Day of the Locust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Admired by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and Dashiell Hammett, and hailed as one of the "Best 100 English-language novels" by Time magazine, The Day of the Locust continues to influence American writers, artists, and culture. Bob Dylan wrote the classic song "Day of the Locusts" in homage and Matt Groening's Homer Simpson is named after one of its characters. No novel more perfectly captures the nuttier side of Hollywood. Here the lens is turned on its fringes - actors out of work, film extras with big dreams, and parents lining their children up for small roles. But it's the…


The Rootabaga Stories

By Carl Sandburg,

Book cover of The Rootabaga Stories

Lisa Jahn-Clough Author Of The Kids of Cattywampus Street

From the list on surreal and magical stories for silly children.

Who am I?

I admire the way children tell stories—how their imagination veers here and there, how fantasy and reality intertwine, and how magic can happen at any moment. I wrote stories like this when I was a kid and, fortunately, saved many of them. When writing The Kids of Cattywampus Street (my twentieth book), I went through these stories and recreated this narrator’s voice as the 8-year-old me with absurdity and confidence. I wanted to show a range of characters in a diverse world where kids believe in themselves, have the power to use their imagination, can get into and out of trouble on their own accord, are resilient, adaptable, strong, and just plain funny.

Lisa's book list on surreal and magical stories for silly children

Discover why each book is one of Lisa's favorite books.

Why did Lisa love this book?

These interrelated short stories are whimsical, sometimes melancholy, and often use nonsense language. My parents read these to me when I was a kid and I always listened intently and laughed hysterically, and later I read them to myself. Many of the stories are narrated by the Potato-Face-Blind-Man, an old minstrel of the Village of Liver-and-Onions who hangs out in front of the local post office. That says it all right there. This book creates a magical, fantasy world which provided me with fodder for the rest of my life. These have been a huge influence on me!

The Rootabaga Stories

By Carl Sandburg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rootabaga Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rootabaga Stories By Carl Sandburg


Njal's Saga

By Magnus and Palsson (translator),

Book cover of Njal's Saga

William Ian Miller Author Of Hrafnkel or the Ambiguities: Hard Cases, Hard Choices

From the list on the Icelandic and Norse sagas.

Who am I?

Purely by accident I stumbled on to a 1961 Penguin translation of Njáls saga and it was a transformative moment in my life. I signed up for Old Norse the next term, and never looked back. The sagas were incomparably intelligent in matters of psychology and politics and interpersonal interaction. And then told with such wit. How could the utter miracle of the fluorescence of so much pure genius on a volcanic island in the middle of nowhere not grab you? And what confluence of friendly stars would allow me to spend a life teaching and writing about them in a law school no less, paid as if I were a real lawyer? 

William's book list on the Icelandic and Norse sagas

Discover why each book is one of William's favorite books.

Why did William love this book?

This is by all estimation the greatest of the sagas. I would even claim that its excellence allows it to be fairly mentioned in the same breath as the Iliad, Don Quixote, and the tragedies of Shakespeare. It is quite complex and I would suggest, if I am allowed to, my Why is Your Axe Bloody? (2014) as a guide. But the present Penguin translation is a travesty and should be avoided. The best English translation available is the older Penguin translated by Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Pálsson (1961) and still available from various used booksellers online. Their translation is as good as a translation can get. Hrafnkels saga is a perfect entry to the sagas because it is short and compact and prepares one for the complexity of Njáls saga

Njal's Saga

By Magnus and Palsson (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Njal's Saga as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Magnusson, Magnus and Palsson, Hermann [transl.]. Njal's Saga. Translated with an introduction by Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Palsson. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1966. 11 cm x 18 cm. 378, (6) pages. Original Softcover. Very good condition with some minor signs of external wear. From the library of swiss - american - irish poet Chuck Kruger. [Penguin Classics]. Contains the following chapters: Introduction; Note on the Translation; Njal's Saga; Genealogical Tables; Glossary of Proper Names; Note on the Chronology; Maps.


The White Guard

By Mikhail Bulgakov,

Book cover of The White Guard

Paul Clark Author Of The Price of Dreams

From the list on life in the Soviet Union.

Who am I?

At the age of 16, I briefly joined the International Socialists, a small British Trotskyist party. Though I soon became disillusioned, it was a formative experience that left me with a lifelong fascination with communism and the Soviet Union. Over the following decades, I read everything I could about the subject, both fiction and non-fiction. In the years after the fall of communism, the ideas that eventually culminated in the writing of this book began to form in my head.

Paul's book list on life in the Soviet Union

Discover why each book is one of Paul's favorite books.

Why did Paul love this book?

This book goes back to the chaos of the years after the Bolshevik revolution. It is set in Kyiv, which changed hands more than a dozen times during the brutal civil war that followed. The story is very autobiographical and focuses on a middle-class family that supports a pro-German faction in its struggle against Bolsheviks, Russian Whites, and Ukrainian nationalists. This isn’t a panoramic novel in the style of War and Peace but a worm’s-eye view of the chaos that has been unleashed. Brilliant.

The White Guard

By Mikhail Bulgakov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The White Guard as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev during the chaotic winter of 1918-19, The White Guard, Bulgakov's first full-length novel, tells the story of a Russian-speaking family trapped in circumstances that threaten to destroy them. As in Tolstoy's War and Peace, the narrative centres on the stark contrast between the cosy domesticity of family life on the one hand, and wide-ranging and destructive historical events on the other.

The result is a disturbing, often shocking story, illuminated, however, by shafts of light that testify to people's resilience, humanity and ability to love in even the most adverse circumstances.


Book cover of The Importance of Being Earnest

Elizabeth Caulfield Felt Author Of Wilde Wagers

From the list on historical novels that are light and silly.

Who am I?

I teach writing and children's literature at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, and for many years worked as a librarian. (Once a librarian, always a librarian!) First and foremost, I'm a reader. The real world can be an unpleasant and depressing place, so I regularly escape inside books. Although serious books are great, it's also nice to escape to a world where you can laugh and not worry about anything too bad happening.

Elizabeth's book list on historical novels that are light and silly

Discover why each book is one of Elizabeth's favorite books.

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Jack pretends to be his brother, Earnest, blaming the made-up man for all mishandled affairs. But when Jack's friend "becomes" the infamous Earnest and begins to woo Jack's ward Cecily, all sorts of craziness ensues. This classic play is perhaps the best example of wacky characters creating mayhem in a world where even bad things turn out to be only silly mishaps.  

The Importance of Being Earnest

By Oscar Wilde,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Importance of Being Earnest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ever since the first night at the St James' Theatre on 14 February 1895, "The Importance of Being Earnest" has been recognised as one of the world's finest comic dramas. Now Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell leads an outstanding cast in this superb new production of Wilde's masterpiece, mounted to celebrate the centenary of the first performance.


The Member of the Wedding

By Carson McCullers,

Book cover of The Member of the Wedding

Terri Apter Author Of The Teen Interpreter: A Guide to the Challenges and Joys of Raising Adolescents

From the list on that shed light on those baffling teenage years.

Who am I?

I learned to fear adolescence as a child, when my mother made predictions about how difficult I would be as a teen. Then, as a mother, I felt that old concern arise in me, that my warm, cuddly children would turn into feral teens bent on rejecting me. This was the point at which I became, as a psychologist, a student of adolescence. I write nonfiction books on adolescents, their parents and friends, their self-consciousness and self-doubt, as well as their resilience and intelligence. But creative fiction writing often leaps ahead of psychology, so I welcome the opportunity to offer my list of five wonderful novels about teens.  

Terri's book list on that shed light on those baffling teenage years

Discover why each book is one of Terri's favorite books.

Why did Terri love this book?

“Haven’t you grown!“ is often a grown-up’s exclamation of delight in a teen’s growth spurt, but rarely do we see this from the teen’s view. It can be scary as well as exciting seeing your body change so rapidly, and I love McCullers description of Frankie’s worry that she will continue to grow at the current pace; then she will be a “freak” – a word that is likely to resonate with all adolescents. Frankie's private, unspoken fears taken place in the midst of a quintessentially social celebration and remind us how often teens, even when surrounded by joy and support, struggle with self doubt as to who they are and how they look.

The Member of the Wedding

By Carson McCullers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Member of the Wedding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the master of Southern Gothic, Carson McCullers's coming-of-age story like no other about a young girl's fascination with her brother's wedding.

Twelve-year-old Frankie is utterly, hopelessly bored with life until she hears about her older brother’s wedding. Bolstered by lively conversations with her family maid, Berenice, and her six-year-old cousin—not to mention her own unbridled imagination—Frankie takes on an overly active role in the wedding, hoping even to go, uninvited, on the honeymoon, so deep is her desire to be a member of something larger, more accepting than herself.


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By C. S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (illustrator),

Book cover of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Carlo Kennedy Author Of Time Signature

From the list on fiction with a Christian worldview.

Who am I?

As an Irish-Italian-American, I’ve got a lifetime of cultural and family traditions to bring to the table, and I want that in the books I read. I love books that celebrate the beauty of life, love, family, and creation. A novel can open up the world, and uplift the reader, adding joy to life – that’s what I’m looking for when I read, and I imagine others, too, want uplifting stories. That doesn’t mean preachy or sanctimonious – stories should be about real imperfect people who sometimes fall short of the ideal – but I definitely want stories that take place in a universe where God, and right and wrong, exist. 

Carlo's book list on fiction with a Christian worldview

Discover why each book is one of Carlo's favorite books.

Why did Carlo love this book?

Anything by C.S. Lewis could be on my list, but this was the first thing I ever read by him.

I first read it as an adult – I started the book on a whim, not really expecting much, since I thought it was only for kids – and I never put the book down until I had finished it! I read the whole book in one day, and then (since I was on vacation) I read the other Narnia books that week – one book a day – and I was hooked.

The Narnia books may seem like children’s fantasy, but they have a depth of meaning that Harry Potter, and even Lord of the Rings, don’t have. 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By C. S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lucy steps into the Professor's wardrobe - but steps out again into a snowy forest. She's stumbled upon the magical world of Narnia, land of unicorns, centaurs, fauns... and the wicked White Witch, who terrorises all. Lucy soon realises that Narnia, and in particular Aslan, the great Lion, needs her help if the country's creatures are ever going to be free again...


Tehanu

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Book cover of Tehanu

Adina Rishe Gewirtz Author Of Blue Window

From the list on literary fantasies for young adults.

Who am I?

I’ve always been a daydreamer – I spent a lot of my childhood imagining the different places I could go if I just crawled through some magical crack in the universe or discovered a hidden tunnel under my bedroom floor. So fantasy has been at the top of my reading list forever. Fantasy does what all great books do, just more explicitly – they take you somewhere new, and by leaving this world behind, they give you a fresh perspective on everything that’s old and familiar. My favorite fantasies take big ideas and play them out in language rich enough to make me love that new and alien place with a passion. 

Adina's book list on literary fantasies for young adults

Discover why each book is one of Adina's favorite books.

Why did Adina love this book?

Ursula K. LeGuin was the first writer who taught me that words can transport you not just into other worlds, but into other people. In this book, she continues the story of Tenar, the escaped priestess of the Wizard of Earthsea series, as she adopts and cares for a brutalized child. Of all the Earthsea books, this one is my favorite for the way in which LeGuin takes the seemingly mundane details of Tenar’s life as she struggles to protect Tehanu and turns them into something deeper and more profound than even the magic her companion Ged wielded as the great wizard leader in the earlier books in the series. 

Tehanu

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tehanu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fourth book of Earthsea in a beautiful hardback edition. Complete the collection with A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan and The Furthest Shore.

With illustrations from Charles Vess

In this fourth novel in the Earthsea series, we rejoin the young priestess the Tenar and powerful wizard Ged. Years before, they had helped each other at a time of darkness and danger. Together, they shared an adventure like no other. Tenar has since embraced the simple pleasures of an ordinary life, while Ged mourns the powers lost to him through no choice of his own.
Now the two…


Kristin Lavransdatter

By Sigrid Undsett,

Book cover of Kristin Lavransdatter

Bonnie Stanard Author Of Béjart's Caravan

From the list on the destructive power of blind obedience to religion.

Who am I?

"Write what you know" is worn-out advice you'll find on many a website, but I prefer to write what I want to know. Researching for background information is a far cry from studying the history of dates, places, and politics. For instance, you won't read in a history book that forks weren't used at the table in the Renaissance. That people didn't have zippers or right/left shoes, but they did have buttons. Noblemen wore high-heeled shoes. Women poisoned themselves with makeup of white lead (ceruse). Even with diaries, autobiographies, and social history books, trivial information of daily life is hard to find. 

Bonnie's book list on the destructive power of blind obedience to religion

Discover why each book is one of Bonnie's favorite books.

Why did Bonnie love this book?

When I discovered Kristin Lavransdatter was 1000 pages, I never expected to fininsh it (I'm a slow reader). However, about 50 pages into it, I was hooked and was at a loss when I read the final chapter. Religion is pervasive but delivered indirectly. The Catholic Church in the Middle Ages was an absolute authority with an iron grip on the main character Kristin. Undset was not judgmental in the book, but I was in reading it. 

Kristin Lavransdatter

By Sigrid Undsett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Kristin Lavransdatter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'[Sigrid Undset] should be the next Elena Ferrante' -Slate

The Nobel Prize-winning masterpiece by Norway's literary master

Kristin Lavransdatter is the epic story of one woman's life in fourteenth-century Norway, from childhood to death. Sensitive and rebellious Kristin is sent to a convent as a girl, where she meets the charming but irresponsible Erlend. Defying her parents' wishes to pursue her own desires, she marries and raises seven sons. However, her husband's political ambitions threaten catastrophe for the family, and the couple become increasingly estranged as the world around them tumbles into uncertainty.

With its captivating heroine and emotional potency,…


The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck,

Book cover of The Grapes of Wrath

Howard Yaruss Author Of Understandable Economics: Because Understanding Our Economy Is Easier Than You Think and More Important Than You Know

From the list on inspiring people to improve the world.

Who am I?

I grew up in Brooklyn in a family that often faced financial difficulties and started working in my early teens in my father’s grocery store. These experiences made me painfully aware of the great disparities in education, security, material well-being, and opportunity in our society.  I saw how these inequalities caused some people to become cynical, resigned, or indifferent—while others became determined to overcome them. I became fascinated by them.  I felt that if I wanted to live in a more just and productive society, I first had to understand how it worked. My recommended books inspired me further and helped me to gain that understanding.

Howard's book list on inspiring people to improve the world

Discover why each book is one of Howard's favorite books.

Why did Howard love this book?

As most people know, this classic novel is about poor farmers suffering during the Great Depression and trying to make their way to a better life in California. They endure drought, foreclosure, displacement, homelessness, and, most heartbreakingly, indifference from those in a position to help. The protagonist’s resilience and determination to make the world a better place no matter the odds and regardless of the adversity he faces is truly an inspiration, particularly for those of us with so many fewer obstacles than he had.  

The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Grapes of Wrath as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied.'

Shocking and controversial when it was first published, The Grapes of Wrath is Steinbeck's Pultizer Prize-winning epic of the Joad family, forced to travel west from Dust Bowl era Oklahoma in search of the promised land of California. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and powerlessness, yet out of their struggle Steinbeck created a drama that is both intensely human and majestic in its scale and moral vision.


Howl's Moving Castle

By Diana Wynne Jones,

Book cover of Howl's Moving Castle

Jackary Salem Author Of Where the Lightning Goes

From the list on overlooked YA fantasy.

Who am I?

I’ve been told I live under a rock. I don’t know much about popular media, I can’t name any actors, and when I catch onto a trend, it’s usually five to six years after said trend has died out. People alert me of my lack of knowledge like it’s a bad thing, but I think if they could see all the books they’re missing out on, they’d feel otherwise. There are hundreds of thousands of fantastic stories that are neither glamorous nor gritty enough to make it to the forefront of the internet, and every time I find one, it changes my life. Living under a rock: 10/10 would recommend.

Jackary's book list on overlooked YA fantasy

Discover why each book is one of Jackary's favorite books.

Why did Jackary love this book?

I know what you’re thinking. “Howl’s Moving Castle? Everyone loves that.” And you’re right—to an extent.

Everyone I know has seen the Studio Ghibli adaptation, but I’ve only met one other person who’s read the book. And believe it or not, the book is different from the movie. What I love about this book isn’t the fantasticism, but the whimsy. It’s an adventure that isn’t about wars or saving the world, and there’s no central antagonist.

This book reminds me that stories can just be fun, and I come back to it every time I need a quick trip through a magical countryside—no angst required.  

Howl's Moving Castle

By Diana Wynne Jones,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Howl's Moving Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now an animated movie from Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, the oscar-winning director of Spirited Away

In this beloved modern classic, young Sophie Hatter from the land of Ingary catches the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste and is put under a spell...

Deciding she has nothing more to lose, Sophie makes her way to the moving castle that hovers on the hills above her town, Market Chipping. But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl, whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the souls of young girls...

There Sophie meets Michael, Howl's apprentice, and Calcifer…


The Lorax

By Dr. Seuss,

Book cover of The Lorax

Jessica Arnold Author Of Nobody Can Take My Happy Away

From the list on imagination and the places it takes you.

Who am I?

I often turned to my imagination when I was a child. Nobody Can Take My Happy Away was inspired by the times I was bullied. My peers teased me about my clothes, my teeth, my home, and how I talked. I wanted to hide from everyone, so I had fewer opportunities to make friends. Because I lived in my own head, I found acceptance in the world of make-believe. I read books about strange worlds with characters that thrived in their surroundings. Eventually, it didn’t matter if someone teased me at school. Reading these books helped me be myself. I found strength in being the odd one out.

Jessica's book list on imagination and the places it takes you

Discover why each book is one of Jessica's favorite books.

Why did Jessica love this book?

I love the colorful illustrations and the silliness of Dr. Seuss books. This book delivers a positive message about our natural resources in a way all can understand. The message is taking responsibility for the problems we create. The seed represents hope for the future.

When I was a child, I went to see an outdoor screening of The Lorax at a local festival. I won a copy of the book and it’s been special to me ever since. I think it reinforced the idea that no matter how old you are, you can change things for the better. I also wanted to share something positive through my books.

I use color in the illustrations in my books because when I was a kid, I loved picture books and they were helpful when I was having difficulty with my learning disabilities and how others perceived me. I was ten years…

The Lorax

By Dr. Seuss,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Lorax as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Lorax is the original eco warrior and his message still rings loud today in this fable about the dangers of destroying our forests, told in the trademark rhyme of the irrepressible Dr. Seuss.

"Mister! He said with a sawdusty sneeze, I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees."

The Lorax is a hilarious and timeless story with the trademark humour and silly rhymes of Dr. Seuss, that packs a punch with its ecological message without feeling heavy-handed or worthy. The Lorax is the original eco warrior as he tries to save the Truffula trees from the greedy once-ler's…


The Pendragon Legend

By Antal Szerb, Len Rix (translator),

Book cover of The Pendragon Legend

Helen Grant Author Of Too Near the Dead

From the list on thrillers with a strong sense of place.

Who am I?

I write Gothic novels and short ghost stories, nearly always with a very vivid setting. One reviewer observed of my debut novel that the German town where it was set, Bad Münstereifel, almost felt like one of the characters in the book. For the last ten years I have lived in Scotland and much of my recent work is set here. I love to explore the derelict mansions that are dotted about the countryside, walk along the old railway line, or swim in the river. I'm fascinated by the way that traces of Scotland's history are visible in the landscape, and I write this into my books. 

Helen's book list on thrillers with a strong sense of place

Discover why each book is one of Helen's favorite books.

Why did Helen love this book?

First published in 1934, this extraordinary novel begins with a chance meeting between the Hungarian narrator, János Bátsky, and reclusive Welsh aristocrat the Earl of Gwynedd, who invites Bátsky to visit him in his castle in Wales. Our hero accepts the invitation, in spite of various warnings (his friend Fred describes the Earl as "Mad as a hatter!" and an anonymous phone call advises Bátsky that everyone who becomes involved with him "comes to a sticky end"). From this point on, the story becomes increasingly bizarre, involving ancient grudges, the Rosicrucians and a laboratory full of giant axolotls.

If someone were to ask me what I thought of this book, I would honestly have to say: "I don't know." The effect of reading it was rather like stuffing yourself with Christmas cake: too rich to manage all at one go. But what I did enjoy very much were the impressions…

The Pendragon Legend

By Antal Szerb, Len Rix (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pendragon Legend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At an end-of-the London season soiree, the young Hungarian scholar-dilettante Janos Batky is introduced to the Earl of Gwynedd, a reclusive eccentric who is the subject of strange rumours. Invited to the family seat, Pendragon Castle in North Wales, Batky receives a mysterious phone-call warning him not to go. Antal Szerb's first novel The Pendragon Legend (1934), set in Wales is a gently satirical blend of gothic and romantic genres, crossed with the murder mystery format to produce a fast-moving and often hilarious romp. But beneath the surface, the reader becomes aware of a steely intelligence probing moral, psychological and…


The Last Tycoon

By F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Book cover of The Last Tycoon: The Authorized Text

Scott Brooks Author Of And There We Were and Here We Are

From the list on if you love old black-and-white movies.

Who am I?

I'm a New Yorker with a background in the performing arts. Though a lifelong reader and bookstore loiterer, my early writing career was focused on the stage as well as the pursuit of a career in screenwriting. This led to many years writing and producing theatre as well as working in film and TV both as a writer and in production. The books I've chosen, I feel influenced the American language in the last century, an influence reflected in the tone of the novels and films from that period described by scholars as “Between the Wars.” It's a period that fascinates me for it exists now only in books and movies and is therein preserved.

Scott's book list on if you love old black-and-white movies

Discover why each book is one of Scott's favorite books.

Why did Scott love this book?

As perfectly tragic as one of his Jazz Age characters, Fitzgerald drank himself to death before finishing this novel which in my opinion, could have been his best. Like Gatsby, Monroe Stahr is an eloquent, rich, and isolated character, pining for a mysterious woman. He is a hugely successful movie mogul in the golden age of Hollywood, and Fitzgerald’s contempt for the studio system’s treatment of writers is here on full satirical display. The sparse prose sparkles with diamond-like harshness and clarity as the doomed love affair plays out. I’m sure it's his least known novel since it is technically “unfinished,” but most editions publish Fitzgerald’s unfinished future chapters, his pass at the ending as well as his notes and outlines, making this a master class in novel writing.

The Last Tycoon

By F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Last Tycoon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940 before he finished this novel. This text purges the printers' errors and editorial interventions that have appeared in previous editions. The tragic centre of the book is film producer Monroe Stahr, who sees film as art, rather than a money-making device.