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Recommended Books

War and Peace, Book 09: 1812
War and Peace, Book 09: 1812

Tolstoy, Leo War and Peace is an epic novel by Leo Tolstoy, first published from 1865 to 1869 in Russki Vestnik, which tells the story of Russian society during the Napoleonic Era. It is usually described as one of Tolstoy's two major masterpieces (the other being Anna Karenina) as well as one of the world's greatest novels.
War and Peace offered a new kind of fiction, with a great many characters caught up in a plot that covered nothing less than the grand subjects indicated by the title, combined with the equally large topics of youth, age and marriage. While today it is considered a novel, it broke so many novelistic conventions of its day that many critics of Tolstoy's time did not consider it as such. Tolstoy himself considered Anna Karenina (1878) to be his first attempt at a novel in the European sense.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The (version 2)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The (version 2)

Twain, Mark In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain creates an entertaining adventure of Middle America in the 1800's - afloat on a raft on the Mississippi River. Huck escapes his civilized life when he arranges his own "murder" and turns back into the backwoods, downriver yokel he started as, and in the process springing a slave, Jim, from bondage.
Huck and Jim experience life as a series of tableaus as the river sweeps them through small towns on their way South. At each stop, Huck engages his talent for mixing fact with bald-faced lies to endlessly get himself out of situations... and of course, putting him into others!
Much has been written about the statement Twain is making about slavery in this book, but it's really secondary to the story. The facts of how black people were treated in this period give Huck and Jim their license for life on the run. Modern listeners will be intrigued by the unencumbered life of the pair; they make do with coffee, fish from the river, and little else (but of course, when they do need something extra, they don't mind helping themselves to it without recourse to money!)
Huck and Jim have run-ins with desperados and family feuds and even manage to get run down by a steamboat. The adventures ratchet up when they are joined on the raft by a self-proclaimed "duke" and a "king" - shysters both, who spend their time in figuring how to fleece the public in the little river towns. And when Jim is captured and threatened with being sent back into slavery, Huck enlists his old buddy Tom Sawyer in a frenzied, desperate, and terribly funny rescue.
I had to clip a lot of laughing from this recording at Twain's sly, catch-'em-when-they're-not-looking humor, but you can feel free to enjoy some good belly laughs at this crew of lovable rapscallions!
Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The
Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The

Baum, L. Frank The timeless story of the Wizard Of Oz. Follow Dorothy as she leaves Kansas for Oz on a cyclone. She meets many strange, and wonderful people and creatures along the way. Enjoy it again with your children and family.
L. Frank Baum's classic story that has made pop culture status.
Christmas Carol, A (version 5)
Christmas Carol, A (version 5)

Dickens, Charles The miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is a cold-hearted man of business and has little time for the good humor and charity of the Christmas season. But that's about to change. A visit from his deceased business partner sets in motion a night in which Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. Will his listen to their messages? Will he heed their warnings? Ebenezer Scrooge is about to take a Christmas journey that he won't soon forget.
Around the World in Eighty Days (version 2)
Around the World in Eighty Days (version 2)

Verne, Jules Mysterious Phileas Fogg is a cool customer. A man of the most repetitious and punctual habit - with no apparent sense of adventure whatsoever - he gambles his considerable fortune that he can complete a journey around the world in just 80 days... immediately after a newspaper calculates the feat as just barely possible.
With his excitable French manservant in tow, Fogg undertakes the exercise immediately, with no preparations, trusting that his traveling funds will make up for delays along the way. But unbeknownst to him, British police are desperately seeking to arrest him for the theft of a huge sum by someone who resembles him, and they will track him around the world, if necessary, to apprehend him.
This is an adventure novel of the first water, with wholly unexpected perils, hair-breadth escapes, brilliant solutions to insoluble problems, and even a love story. And can this be? - That he returns to London just five minutes too late to win his wager and retain his fortune?
Middlemarch
Middlemarch

Eliot, George The book examines the role of education in the lives of the characters and how such education and study has affected the characters. Rosamond Vincy's finishing school education is a foil to Dorothea Brooke's religiously-motivated quest for knowledge. Rosamond initially admires Lydgate for his exotic education, and his intellect. A similar dynamic is present in Dorothea and Casaubon's relationship, with Dorothea revering her new husband's intellect and eloquence. In both cases, however, the young wives' expectations of their husbands intellects are not reflected in reality.
Despite extreme erudition, Mr. Casaubon is afraid to publish because he believes that he must write a work that is utterly above criticism. In contrast, Lydgate at times arrogantly flaunts his knowledge, making enemies with his fellow physicians. He regards the residents of Middlemarch with a certain amount of contempt stemming from his belief that the townspeople are backwards and uninteresting. However, his education has not included tact and politicking, skills necessary in a small town but are seen by Lydgate as below him, the brilliant doctor.
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, A

Twain, Mark Come and hear the strange tail of The Boss Hank Morgan, a modern day (at the time of publication) Connecticut Yankee who inexplicably finds himself transported to the court of the legendary King Arthur (as the title of the book implies). Hank, or simply, The Boss, as he comes to be most frequently known, quickly uses his modern day knowledge and education to pass himself off as a great magician, to get himself out of all sorts of surprising, (and frequently amusing) situations, as well as to advance the technological and cultural status of the nation in which he finds himself.
In the rather un-subtle sub-text of the story, Twain uses The Boss to express a surprisingly pragmatic and frequently contradictory philosophy. The Boss explores the relative merits of Democracy, and Monarchy, he expresses his views on the “Nature v. Nurture” debate, he frequently speaks forcefully against an established Church, but just as strongly advocates for religion and a variety of churches (just not a compulsory one) and he devotes at least one afternoon to introducing his companions to the concept of inflation. In a far more subtle, yet no less forceful manner, the Boss shares with the reader some views about taxation, slavery (both literal and wage slavery), trade unions, the origins of the German language, the nature of marriage, and probably most powerfully, death.
It is a tall order for a relatively brief text, but Twain manages it all with surprising clarity. No one will agree fully with the Boss on all of these matters, and I would be surprised if Twain himself would. In fact the Boss’s views are so pragmatic, and often contradictory, the reader is left to wonder if Twain himself is alternately speaking through the Boss, and setting him up as a straw man. Either way it is a delightful story and a great piece of American Literature, to say nothing of an excellent argument for education.
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, A (version 2)
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, A (version 2)

Twain, Mark A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is an 1889 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The work is a very early example of time travel in literature, anticipating by six years H. G. Wells' The Time Machine of 1895 (however, unlike Wells, Twain does not give any real explanation of his protagonist's traveling in time). Some early editions are entitled A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur.
Murders in the Rue Morgue, The
Murders in the Rue Morgue, The

Poe, Edgar Allan The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1841. Poe referred to it as a "tale of ratiocination" featuring the brilliant deductions of C. Auguste Dupin; it is today regarded as one of the first detective stories and is almost certainly the first locked room mystery.
Erotica Romana
Erotica Romana

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von Also known as the "Roman Elegies," Erotica Romana is von Goethe's literary tribute to human sexuality and eroticism. Written in 24 elegies to emulate classical Roman elegy writers such as Tibullus, Propertius, and Catullus, von Goethe creates a lyrical work of art that has often been subject to censorship.
Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King)
Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King)

Sophocles The play begins years after Oedipus has taken the throne of Thebes. The Theban chorus cries out to him for salvation from the plague sent by the gods in response to Laius's murder. Oedipus searches for the murderer, unaware that he himself is guilty of that crime.
The blind prophet Teiresias is called upon to aid the search, but, after his warning against following through with it, Oedipus oppugns him as the murderer, even though he is blind and aged. In response, an angry Tiresias tells Oedipus that he is looking for himself, causing the king to become enraged in incredulity. He then accuses the prophet of conspiring with Creon, Jocasta's brother, to overthrow him.
Oedipus calls for one of Laius's former servants, the only surviving witness of the murder, who fled the city when Oedipus became king in order to avoid being the one to reveal the truth. Soon a messenger from Corinth arrives to inform the king of the death of Polybus, whom Oedipus still believes to be his real father. At this point, the messenger informs him that he was in fact adopted and that his true parentage is unknown. In the subsequent discussions between Oedipus, Jocasta, the servant and the messenger, the second-mentioned surmises the truth and runs away in shame.
Beowulf
Beowulf

Unknown Beowulf. [Translated by Francis Barton Gummere].This is a short but beautiful book, and the Gummere translation really captures the feel of the Old English. Beowulf tells the story of a mysterious young warrior who saves the Spear-Danes from the terrible monster Grendel and his venomous mother. Long a mainstay of English Literature 101 courses at universities around the world, it is not only one of the oldest, but one of the most exciting English folktales ever invented.
Stones of Venice, The, volume 1
Stones of Venice, The, volume 1

Ruskin, John The Stones of Venice is a three-volume treatise on Venetian art and architecture by English art historian John Ruskin, first published from 1851 to 1853. Intending to prove how the architecture in Venice exemplified the principles he discussed in his earlier work, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, Ruskin examined the city in detail, describing for example over eighty churches. He discusses architecture of Venice's Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance periods, and provides a general history of the city as well. The book aroused considerable interest in Victorian Britain and beyond. The chapter "The Nature of Gothic" (from volume 2) was admired by William Morris, who published it separately in an edition which is in itself an example of Gothic revival. It inspired Marcel Proust; the narrator of the Recherche visits Venice with his mother in a state of enthusiasm for Ruskin. The Stones of Venice is considered one of the most influential books of the 19th century.
Ring o' Roses: A Nursery Rhyme Picture Book
Ring o' Roses: A Nursery Rhyme Picture Book

Brooke, L. Leslie A collection of Classical children's nursery rhymes. Many familiar, a few unfamiliar, all simple and easy for younger children.
Rastignac The Devil
Rastignac The Devil

Farmer, Philip José French colonists on a planet ruled by reptiles and amphibians are forced to wear living “skins” that subdue aggression and enforce vegetarianism. As children, Rastignac and his reptile friend Mapfarity force themselves to become carnivores and begin a protein fueled journey that causes Rastignac to develop a Philosophy of Violence. When a spaceship from Earth crashes in the ocean, Rastignac and company must put their philosophy to the test. - Rastignac The Devil was first published in the May 1954 issue of Fantastic Universe Magazine.
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