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I’ve read avidly my whole life, but I have skewed heavily towards Non-Fiction. Truthfully, I didn’t read novels at all, pretty much, until I was in my early 30s, excepting assigned novels and a couple books given or lent to me by others. 

So I think when I make up my 52 book bingo card for next year, I am going to require of myself ALL FICTION. I want to fill my tank with more stories. So, recommendations welcomed. Help me make my book list for 2021. 

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First of all, western fiction or around the world ? 

I did not grow up with a list of books to read, I had to come up with one myself. So mine is heavy with vintage British authors as that was what I had access to most.

Jane Austen, my favorites are Pride and Prejudice and Emma are essential reading.

Bronte - Not every Bronte can write equally though all of them wrote including a brother. I would say Jane Eyre by Charlotte, Wuthering Heights by Emily and to a lesser extent Agnes Grey by Anne 

Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist, Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Pickwick Papers, Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations and to a lesser extent Nicholas Nickleby, Bleak House and Little Dorrit.

Thomas Hardy - Tess of the D'Ubervilles and Far from the Maddening Crowd 

Arthur Conan Doyle - Every single thing as it Sherlock Holmes

Mary Shelley - Frankenstein 

George Elliot - Silas Marner and Mill on the Floss

Oscar Wilde - Dorian Grey 

Rudyard Kipling - Jungle Book

Robert Louis Stevenson - Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde

Emma Orczy - Scarlett Pimpernel

Will update more...

Edited by Dreamergal
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6 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

First of all, western fiction or around the world ? 

I did not grow up with a list of books to read, I had to come up with one myself. So mine is heavy with vintage British authors as that was what I had access to most.

Jane Austen, my favorites are Pride and Prejudice and Emma are essential reading.

Bronte - Not every Bronte can write equally though all of them wrote including a brother. I would say Jane Eyre by Charlotte, Wuthering Heights by Emily and to a lesser extent Agnes Grey by Anne 

Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist, Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Pickwick Papers, Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations and to a lesser extent Nicholas Nickleby, Bleak House and Little Dorrit.

Thomas Hardy - Tess of the D'Ubervilles and Far from the Maddening Crowd 

Arthur Conan Doyle - Every single thing as it Sherlock Holmes

Mary Shelley - Frankenstein 

George Elliot - Silent Mariner and Mill on the Floss

Oscar Wilde - Dorian Grey 

Rudyard Kipling - Jungle Book

Robert Louis Stevenson - Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde

Emma Orczy - Scarlett Pimpernel

Will update more...

I guess around the world is fine so long as it is translated to English. 😊

I do love Jane Austin and read all of her novels one year. 

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59 minutes ago, Quill said:

I’ve read avidly my whole life, but I have skewed heavily towards Non-Fiction. Truthfully, I didn’t read novels at all, pretty much, until I was in my early 30s, excepting assigned novels and a couple books given or lent to me by others. 

So I think when I make up my 52 book bingo card for next year, I am going to require of myself ALL FICTION. I want to fill my tank with more stories. So, recommendations welcomed. Help me make my book list for 2021. 

 

Do you have any particular narrower focus? Like "all classics" or "all non-white authors" or "all women" or "anything but fantasy" or "a wide variety of authors, viewpoints, genres, including children's, YA, classics for adults, international fiction, etc."?

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1 minute ago, Tanaqui said:

 

Do you have any particular narrower focus? Like "all classics" or "all non-white authors" or "all women" or "anything but fantasy" or "a wide variety of authors, viewpoints, genres, including children's, YA, classics for adults, international fiction, etc."?

Wide variety. Probably the only thing I can’t stomach is child abuse. But I do enjoy finding a great book that’s not something I usually pick. 

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18 minutes ago, Quill said:

I guess around the world is fine so long as it is translated to English. 😊

I do love Jane Austin and read all of her novels one year. 

Oh how I wish I could read around the world in the language of origin. But alas, no. 

I read fluently in 3 languages and badly in one. So my primary language reading around the world is English.

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4 minutes ago, Spy Car said:

Have you read any Theodore Dreiser?

Sister Carrie, Jennie Gerhardt, and An American Tragedy are all gut-wrenching novels.

Bill

Nope. Thanks! 

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My favorite novels generally include elements of current events or history (or both!). They also show relationships between people of different cultural backgrounds. (Here a few that popped into my head in no particular order):

Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese): includes details of medical surgery, familial relationship, twin brothers, adoption, cross-cultures (Indian and American)

Anything by Barbara Kingsolver -- 
The Poisonwood Bible: cross-cultural (American and African, "Christian" and "heathen"), familial relationships, missionaries, twins, mental illness

Anything by Jodi Picoult - 
The Storyteller: cross-cultural (American and German), past/present, multi-generational, forgiveness, holocaust, 

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Jamie Ford): cross-cultural (Japanese and American), familial relationships, Japanese Internment during WWII

Anything by Willa Cather - 
Death Comes for the Archbishop: shows life in the Southwestern U.S. (specifically Santa Fe, NM) during the Spanish mission times. I love anything by Willa Cather because of her sweeping descriptions of landscapes, people, times. Her writing is transportive.

Anything by Annie Dillard - 
The Living: tells the epic story of the settling of the Pacific Northwest, through several generations. So descriptive, and the portrays a full sweep of emotions.

Classics like Les Miserables (Victor Hugo), Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand), Anna Karena (Tolstoy), 

If you like Bible stories brought to life, the Dahveed series, by Terri Favish, is excellent.

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12 minutes ago, Quill said:

Nope. Thanks! 

These come with a caveat. The writing is powerful and naturalistic. Dreiser is a brilliant stylist and storyteller and sensitive readers (which I assume includes you) will likely connect with his heroines very strongly. The ups and downs of their lives can be pretty heavy. But top notch American fiction if one can bear tales of downward social mobility.

Bill

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The Luminaries won the Mann Booker prize a few years ago.  It is a wonderful (but long) story about the gold rush in NZ in the 1860s.  What made it win the Mann Booker prize was that Eleanor Catton set herself an unusual task of having structure dictate plot and characterization.  She created 12 characters to represent the star signs and 6 characters to represent the planets. Then took the star alignment of the year the book was set, and wrote the book based on what she was told to do.  So if Mars was in Capricorn in that month, those two characters would have to meet in that chapter and the Mars character would influence how how Capricorn's character interacted, so more warlike.  Each chapter has the star sign wheel rotate to the next month, and then Catton wrote the plot plot and characterization based on this.  Added to this, she required each chapter to be half of the length of the other, starting with 300 pages and ending with 1 page. So once again, forcing external structure on her creativity to see what was possible.  My older boy and I had so much fun thinking about how the star signs were impacting the characterization. We learned a lot about star signs!

It was wonderfully clever, plus it is a murder mystery set in gold rush times in NZ's South Island and is reasonably historic.  Super awesome.  But it is long.  🙂 

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Enjoying all the booklists..  I'd say yes to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and several others already mentioned.  I'll add:

The Martian

The Bear and the Nightingale

Rage Against Dying (First in the Briget Quinn series)

Code Name Verity

Cloud Atlas

True Grit - so, so good.  

The Coroner's Lunch

Prodigal Summer by Kinsglover - i loved this one so much more than Poisonwood Bible

Talking to the Dead (first in the Fiona Griffith's series - love it)

I think something by Woodhouse,  Sayers (Lord Peter Whimsey), and Christie because they are classic and not too hard to get through.   If you aren't normally drawn to fiction you may need to change it up a bit with lighter fare and more serious stuff just to get through the year. 

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Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake is also one of my all time favorites.  It has The Most Beautiful Language of any book, ever.  Here is the first sentence to whet your appetite!

Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its Outer Walls.

 

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Do you enjoy stories about whales? LOL.

If not, might I suggest one of Melville's short stories? Bartleby, the Scrivener. So hysterically funny (in its own way).

Bill 

 

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6 minutes ago, lewelma said:

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake is also one of my all time favorites.  It has The Most Beautiful Language of any book, ever.  Here is the first sentence to whet your appetite!

Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its Outer Walls.

 

I have wanted to read that series for years.   Thanks for the reminder.  

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Some more that were favorites

Out of My Mind 

Small Great Things

The Giver of Stars (similar setting as Book Woman of Troublesome Creek but different story line)

The Coddling of the American Mind   non fiction but very good and thought provoking

Becoming

The Nightingale

Other favorites:

Don't Make me Pull Over

A Beautiful Terrible Thing

Before I let you Go

Secret Life of Ce Ce Wilks

Such a Fun Age

Things We can not say

In Shock

 

 

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A few from our shelves:

Cry, the Beloved Country

My Antonia

Snow Falling on Cedars

The Dark is Rising (start on Dec. 20th--right before solstice)

The Remains of the Day

The Book Thief

The Secret Life of Bees

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30 minutes ago, Spy Car said:

Do you enjoy stories about whales? LOL.

If not, might I suggest one of Melville's short stories? Bartleby, the Scrivener. So hysterically funny (in its own way).

Bill 

 

Yeah I’m not sure I’m a Moby Dick gal. But I could try a short. 

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1 hour ago, lewelma said:

The Luminaries won the Mann Booker prize a few years ago.  It is a wonderful (but long) story about the gold rush in NZ in the 1860s.  What made it win the Mann Booker prize was that Eleanor Catton set herself an unusual task of having structure dictate plot and characterization.  She created 12 characters to represent the star signs and 6 characters to represent the planets. Then took the star alignment of the year the book was set, and wrote the book based on what she was told to do.  So if Mars was in Capricorn in that month, those two characters would have to meet in that chapter and the Mars character would influence how how Capricorn's character interacted, so more warlike.  Each chapter has the star sign wheel rotate to the next month, and then Catton wrote the plot plot and characterization based on this.  Added to this, she required each chapter to be half of the length of the other, starting with 300 pages and ending with 1 page. So once again, forcing external structure on her creativity to see what was possible.  My older boy and I had so much fun thinking about how the star signs were impacting the characterization. We learned a lot about star signs!

It was wonderfully clever, plus it is a murder mystery set in gold rush times in NZ's South Island and is reasonably historic.  Super awesome.  But it is long.  🙂 

That book has been sitting on my shelf unread for ages... I should pick it up!

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21 minutes ago, Quill said:

Yeah I’m not sure I’m a Moby Dick gal. But I could try a short. 

Moby Dick - don't read it, listen to it.  Specifically the William Hootkins narration - it is fantastic. I really expected it to be a slog, but his narration makes it enjoyable!  

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Just now, Matryoshka said:

Moby Dick - don't read it, listen to it.  Specifically the William Hootkins narration - it is fantastic. I really expected it to be a slog, but his narration makes it enjoyable!  

I found this with other audiobooks, too, most notably The Hobbit, which I could never cope with while reading (all those darned songs...) but with a great narrator, it was excellent. 

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I will recommend one of my favorite authors-Wallace Stegner.  I can't decide which work is my favorite:

Crossing to Safety- story of friendship between two couples, and how they handle what life throws at them. Love, loyalty, ambition, disappointment.

Angle of Repose- a retired professor is writing a biography of his grandparents and their experience settling in the West in the 1800s. 

Both these books are so well written, the characters wonderful but flawed, settings wonderfully contribute to the stories. 

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Quill said:

Yeah I’m not sure I’m a Moby Dick gal. But I could try a short. 

I have reflected on my initial post recommending Bartleby, the Scrivener,  and have come to think that in the phrase "so hysterically funny (in its own way)" that the emphasis should be placed squarely on in its own way

Not purely a comedy.

Bill

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

Moby Dick - don't read it, listen to it.  Specifically the William Hootkins narration - it is fantastic. I really expected it to be a slog, but his narration makes it enjoyable!  

There are brief clips of Orson Wells reading from the opening to Moby Dick.

If I were as rich as rich as Croesus--and had the advantage of time travel--a portion of my wealth would certainly go toward hiring Wells to read the entire thing. A marvel.

Must search for William Hootkins. The books on tape versions I've previewed have not pleased me in the slightest.

Bill

ETA: Here is how Moby Dick ought to be read aloud:

 

 

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Spy Car said:

There are brief clips of Orson Wells reading from the opening to Moby Dick.

If I were as rich as rich as Croesus--and had the advantage of time travel--a portion of my wealth would certainly go toward hiring Wells to read the entire thing. A marvel.

Must search for William Hootkins. The books on tape versions I've previewed have not pleased me in the slightest.

You must, Bill.  His delivery and timing are excellent - I really never expected to find myself smiling through so much of it - and it did convince me that Melville indeed has a sly and wicked sense of humor, so I'm looking forward to trying Bartleby!

My only complaint is that he somehow doesn't know how to pronounce quahog!  A minor quibble, overall...

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4 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

You must, Bill.  His delivery and timing are excellent - I really never expected to find myself smiling through so much of it - and it did convince me that Melville indeed has a sly and wicked sense of humor, so I'm looking forward to trying Bartleby!

My only complaint is that he somehow doesn't know how to pronounce quahog!  A minor quibble, overall...

I think Melville's fantastically funny sense of humor (sly and wicked is a good characterization on your part) is grossly underappreciated. 

Bartleby does have its non-comedic side to be sure. I don't want to mislead.

And I literally laughed out loud while reading Melville's sea-adventure novel White-Jacket (which also has its very serious side).

Perhaps I have a thing for tragicomedies?

Bill

 

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31 minutes ago, Karen A said:

I will recommend one of my favorite authors-Wallace Stegner.  I can't decide which work is my favorite:

Crossing to Safety- story of friendship between two couples, and how they handle what life throws at them. Love, loyalty, ambition, disappointment.

Angle of Repose- a retired professor is writing a biography of his grandparents and their experience settling in the West in the 1800s. 

Both these books are so well written, the characters wonderful but flawed, settings wonderfully contribute to the stories. 

 

 

I've only read Angle of Repose, but it is excellent.

Bill

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Oh Quill, have you read Robert Pen Warren's All the King's Men?

Written in the 40's about a populist demagogue (based loosely on Huey Long) but it feels like it could have been written about the politics of our time. 

To call the novel prescient would be an understatement.

Bill

 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

The master and margaritas has been my most recent fun can’t put down read.

mr penumbras 24 hour bookstore is another one from way back that was pretty good.

I must re-read this. The Master and Margarita is one of those novels I read for fun in college that I literally could not put down--forgoing sleep to finish.

The novel inspired Mick Jagger to write Sympathy for the Devil. Bit of trivia.

Bill

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7 minutes ago, Spy Car said:

I must re-read this. The Master and Margarita is one of those novels I read for fun in college that I literally could not put down--forgoing sleep to finish.

The novel inspired Mick Jagger to write Sympathy for the Devil. Bit of trivia.

Bill

I feel like that's one I should re-read at some point.  I read it back in college at the suggestion of a friend, and did not really appreciate it - didn't hate it, but didn't feel the love so many others seem to have for it.  But I suspect I likely missed something and I should give it another go...

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Anything by Edna Ferber.  Great American novels.  I think So Big is my favorite

Hawaii by James Mitchener.  This is the first of the Really Long Living Books style studies of a single locale from many points of view over several generations.

My Year of Meats. This is one of my modern picks.  Just outstanding in every way.

As is The Overstory.

Pearl Buck is reliably readable and culturally accurate and interesting.  My faves are The Good Earth and Imperial Woman.

Leon Uris is amazing.  Great, exciting novels mostly about the Cold War or Jewish people in Europe and Israel.  My absolute favorite of his is Exodus, which is the background, founding, and early history of the modern state of Israel from the perspective of representative fictional characters.  My favorite of his Cold War novels is Topaz.

There is a series of books about politics and the media that is fairly prescient by Allan Drury, starting with Advise and Consent.  Highly recommended for right now.  Highly.  They were mostly written in the 1960s and 70s I believe, despite the publication dates in Amazon which are of new republished editions.  

Weirdly enough, I like just about everything that Liane Moriarty has ever written.  Not my usual style at all, but very good.
 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Matryoshka said:

Moby Dick - don't read it, listen to it.  Specifically the William Hootkins narration - it is fantastic. I really expected it to be a slog, but his narration makes it enjoyable!  

Don't hate me--nor do I wish to dissuade anyone--but I've yet to find a book on tape that I could endure, and William Hootkins' Moby Dick is no exception.

I don't feel that Hootkins understands how to deliver the lines along the meter that Meville intended. I love hearing works read aloud, my wife is a wonderful reader and I have some talents myself, but listening to what I consider to be awkwardly delivered lines makes me insane.

I did run across a Moby Dick audio project where a bunch of great actors divided up the work. Tilda Swinton--who is an actress I deeply admire is so-so (in my admittedly harsh judgement), but Benedict Cumberbatch does a rather good job.

If I disappear for a week or so, i've gone to sea. LOL.

Bill

 

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17 minutes ago, Spy Car said:

Don't hate me--nor do I wish to dissuade anyone--but I've yet to find a book on tape that I could endure, and William Hootkins' Moby Dick is no exception.

I don't feel that Hootkins understands how to deliver the lines along the meter that Meville intended. I love hearing works read aloud, my wife is a wonderful reader and I have some talents myself, but listening to what I consider to be awkwardly delivered lines makes me insane.

I did run across a Moby Dick audio project where a bunch of great actors divided up the work. Tilda Swinton--who is an actress I deeply admire is so-so (in my admittedly harsh judgement), but Benedict Cumberbatch does a rather good job.

If I disappear for a week or so, i've gone to sea. LOL.

Bill

 

LOL, to each their own.  I generally love Benedict Cumberbatch, but it sounds very odd to my ear to have a Brit narrating one of the great American novels...

Here's a Hootkins sample - I like his delivery, and where he times things; I can hear the snark.  Ishmael is snarky.  And American.

https://audiobookstore.com/audiobooks/moby-dick-11.aspx#

(You have to click on "Extended Audio Sample" once you get to that link - I couldn't figure out how to embed it like Fancy Bill... 😉 )

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16 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

LOL, to each their own.  I generally love Benedict Cumberbatch, but it sounds very odd to my ear to have a Brit narrating one of the great American novels...

Here's a Hootkins sample - I like his delivery, and where he times things; I can hear the snark.  Ishmael is snarky.  And American.

https://audiobookstore.com/audiobooks/moby-dick-11.aspx#

(You have to click on "Extended Audio Sample" once you get to that link - I couldn't figure out how to embed it like Fancy Bill... 😉 )

My "fancy" link was purely accidental. LOL.

I did listen to this sample of William Hootkins--out a sense of due diligence (it was a different sample than I'd heard)--but I found myself "growing grim about the mouth." LOL.

I don't think he has a clue as to how these lines ought to be read. All the majesty of the language--some of the greatest lines in the English language--are reduced to sounding like common parlance. Please don't let my opinionated "opininating" (LOL) upset you. Moby Dick is dear to me and I can be a PITA.

Bill

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A ya novel I loved was Turtles All the Way Down by John Green.

My absolute favorite novel is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I also appreciate the "sequel" Go Set a Watchman which is actually more of a lost rough draft.

My favorite nonfiction reads like a novel so I'm including it here: Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On forgotten roads with an Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn.

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6 minutes ago, Spy Car said:

My "fancy" link was purely accidental. LOL.

I did listen to this sample of William Hootkins--out a sense of due diligence (it was a different sample than I'd heard)--but I found myself "growing grim about the mouth." LOL.

I don't think he has a clue as to how these lines ought to be read. All the majesty of the language--some of the greatest lines in the English language--are reduced to sounding like common parlance. Please don't let my opinionated "opininating" (LOL) upset you. Moby Dick is dear to me and I can be a PITA.

I think part of what I like about it is that he does make it sound like a normal guy telling you a story - but all the beautiful language is still there, it just doesn't sound stuffy.  I still found myself often amazed at turns of phrase or some of the poetics used, but at the same time really enjoying being told a tale!  I did try to read the text a few times and didn't get past the first couple of chapters because I somehow got bogged down.  I'm not sure reading the lines as a British thespian vs an American sailor telling a whale of a tale is necessarily the 'right' way.  But this is a work that can obviously be appreciated in many different ways. 🙂 

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15 minutes ago, happi duck said:

A ya novel I loved was Turtles All the Way Down by John Green.

My absolute favorite novel is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I also appreciate the "sequel" Go Set a Watchman which is actually more of a lost rough draft.

My favorite nonfiction reads like a novel so I'm including it here: Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On forgotten roads with an Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn.

Is it true that Atticus Finch is a lout in Go Set a Watchman? I've avoided it on those grounds.

Bill

 

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David Copperfield

Little Women

To Kill A Mockingbird

Cry, The Beloved Country

The Poisonwood Bible

The Palace Walk

(Those are a few that quickly came to mind!)

 

 

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