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Powerful books for teenagers

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Calvin is enjoying books with powerful or thought-provoking messages and dramatic story lines. He doesn't have the time or patience during term time for slow meditations or extensive descriptions. Recent hits have been To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men.


Any ideas? These are for him to read on his own.


Thank you



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"Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

A Farewell to Arms or For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton


Short stories can be a good way to go when you want short, impactful writing. Flannery O'Conner isn't for everyone, but she is very dramatic and terse.

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They are larger books, but this past year middle son enjoyed both:


Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky

Les Miserables by Hugo


but the extensive descriptions might not be his cup of tea.


Has he read the Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas? That was my all-time favorite from English class many, many moons ago. (Middle son loved that too, but I had him read it years ago.)


Or, The Giver? That's a quick one day read in our family.


Black Like Me is another I had my guys read that they enjoyed. I apologize for not remembering the author on those last two at this time of the morning.

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We're doing American Lit this year, and so far, Mohicans has turned out to be a bust for those who read it. Too far-fetched in parts of the plot, and not very much sympathy for the characters.


OTOH, all of my class is really getting into The Scarlet Letter, and I have four guys in the class ranging from 16 - 18. Two of the guys started out heartily sympathizing with the vindictive rage of Chillingsworth, because they could relate to the his loss. Now, not so much, when they see where it has led.


It is very interesting watching them move through the emotions and thoughts provoked by the book.

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I guess you are looking for shorter books, not thick tomes?


Animal Farm (Orwell)

Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury)


short stories:

for dramatic, try Pushkin, Jack London

Richard Connell: The most dangerous game

Shirley Jackson: The Lottery


He is taking a lot of exams this year and doesn't have time for 400-page classics.


He's read Animal Farm and Fahrenheit 451, as well as some Jack London, but I'll look into the others.





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My son's literature class recently read A Separate Peace along with an excerpt from Sigmund Freud (I think) about the unconscious mind, keeping in mind the questions: who was Phineas and did he really exist? It's a page-turner and on the shorter side.


Flatland by Edwin Abbott might be good. It's short but takes awhile to get through. Written in the 1800s, it's a commentary on math and philosophy as well as a satire of Victorian England values. My son and his friends who read it loved it.


Longer books that are fairly fast reads:


Feed by M.T. Anderson

Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, my son's second favorite book.

I also liked The Book Thief which is long but is not difficult to read.


Also longer but thought-provoking:

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert Pirsig.

ETA three more:

Hiroshima by John Hersey. Chilling.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. A bit on the long side.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Edited by MBM
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