35 Books to Read in Your Life Time

View all Best Picks for Adults book lists; This list was last updated on 11/21/2014
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Oliver Twist

Starved and mistreated, empty bowl in hand, the young hero musters the courage to approach his master, saying, "Please, sir, I want some more." Oliver Twist's famous cry of the heart has resounded with readers since the novel's initial appearance in 1837, and the book remains a popular favorite with fans of all ages.
Dickens was no stranger to the pain of hunger and the degradation of poverty. He poured his own youthful experience of Victorian London's unspeakable squalor into this realistic depiction of the link between destitution and crime. Oliver escapes his miserable servitude by running away to London, where he unwillingly but inevitably joins a scabrous gang of thieves. Masterminded by the loathsome Fagin, the underworld crew features some of Dickens' most memorable characters, including the juvenile pickpocket known as the Artful Dodger, the vicious Bill Sikes, and gentle Nancy, an angel of self-sacrifice.
A profound social critic, Dickens introduced genteel readers to the problems of the poor in a way that had rarely been attempted before. This tale of the struggle between hope and cruelty continues to speak to modern audiences.

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Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Hardy s penultimate work, Tess of the D'Urbervilles is arguably the greatest tragedy of all Victorian literature. It tells the story of Tess, an impoverished woman whose past relations and miscarriage cause her to be rejected by her husband on their wedding night. Touching upon the themes of class, religion, gender, and sexuality, the novel was highly controversial for its time and is held in high esteem by literary scholars to this day.
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The Picture of Dorian Gray

In this celebrated work, his only novel, Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde's most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.

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Around the World in 80 Days
Jules Verne's all-time bestseller "Around the world in 80 Days"
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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Referring to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, H. L. Mencken noted that his discovery of this classic American novel was "the most stupendous event of my whole life"; Ernest Hemingway declared that "all modern American literature stems from this one book," while T. S. Eliot called Huck "one of the permanent symbolic figures of fiction, not unworthy to take a place with Ulysses, Faust, Don Quixote, Don Juan, Hamlet."
The novel's preeminence derives from its wonderfully imaginative re-creation of boyhood adventures along the mighty Mississippi River, its inspired characterization, the author's remarkable ear for dialogue, and the book's understated development of serious underlying themes: "natural" man versus "civilized" society, the evils of slavery, the innate value and dignity of human beings, the stultifying effects of convention, and other topics. But most of all, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a wonderful story ― filled with high adventure and unforgettable characters (including the great river itself) ― that no one who has read it will ever forget.
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Gulliver's Travels

Regarded as the preeminent prose satirist in the English language, Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) intended this masterpiece, as he once wrote Alexander Pope, to "vex the world rather than divert it." Savagely ironic, it portrays man as foolish at best, and at worst, not much more than an ape.
The direct and unadorned narrative describes four remarkable journies of ship's surgeon Lemuel Gulliver, among them, one to the land of Lilliput, where six-inch-high inhabitants bicker over trivialities; and another to Brobdingnag, a land where giants reduce man to insignificance.
Written with disarming simplicity and careful attention to detail, this classic is diverse in its appeal: for children, it remains an enchanting fantasy. For adults, it is a witty parody of political life in Swift's time and a scathing send-up of manners and morals in 18th-century England.

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

In September of 1884, Robert Louis Stevenson, then in his mid-thirties, moved with his family to Bournemouth, a resort on the southern coast of England, where in the brief span of 23 months he revised A Child's Garden of Verses and wrote the novels Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
An intriguing combination of fantast thriller and moral allegory, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde depicts the gripping struggle of two opposing personalities — one essentially good, the other evil — for the soul of one man. Its tingling suspense and intelligent and sensitive portrayal of man's dual nature reveals Stevenson as a writer of great skill and originality, whose power to terrify and move us remains, over a century later, undiminished.

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Like much of James Joyce's work, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a fictional re-creation of the Irish writer's own life and early environment. The experiences of the novel's young hero, Stephen Dedalus, unfold in astonishingly vivid scenes that seem freshly recalled from life and provide a powerful portrait of the coming of age of a young man of unusual intelligence, sensitivity, and character.
The interest of the novel is deepened by Joyce's telling portrayals of an Irish upbringing and schooling, the Catholic Church and its priesthood, Parnell and Irish politics, encounters with the conflicting roles of art and morality (problems that would follow Joyce throughout his life), sexual experimentation and its aftermath, and the decision to leave Ireland.
Rich in details that offer vital insights into Joyce's art, this masterpiece of semiautobiographical fiction remains essential reading in any program of study in modern literature.

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
The first published novel of controversial Nobel Prize winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn- now in trade paperback.

First published in 1962, this book is considered one of the most significant works ever to emerge from Soviet Russia. Illuminating a dark chapter in Russian history, it is at once a graphic picture of work camp life and a moving tribute to man's will to prevail over relentless dehumanization, told by "a literary genius whose talent matches that of Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy, [and] Gorky" (Harrison Salisbury, New York Times).
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Treasure Island
One of the most enduringly popular adventure tales, Treasure Island began in 1881 as a serialized adventure entitled "The Sea-Cook" in the periodical Young Folks. Completed during a stay at Davos, Switzerland, where Stevenson had gone for his health, it was published in 1883 in the form we know today.
Set in the eighteenth century, Treasure Island spins a heady tale of piracy, a mysterious treasure map, and a host of sinister characters charged with diabolical intentions. Seen through the eyes of Jim Hawkins, the cabin boy of the Hispaniola, the action-packed adventure tells of a perilous sea journey across the Spanish Main, a mutiny  led by the infamous Long John Silver, and a lethal scramble for buried treasure on an exotic isle.
Rich in atmosphere and character, Treasure Island continues to mesmerize readers with its perceptive views of the changing nature of human motives.
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Brave New World

"Aldous Huxley is the greatest 20th century writer in English." —Chicago Tribune

Aldous Huxley is rightly considered a prophetic genius and one of the most important literary and philosophical voices of the 20th Century, and Brave New World is his masterpiece. From the author of The Doors of Perception, Island, and countless other works of fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, and poetry, comes this powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations. Brave New World remains absolutely relevant to this day as both a cautionary dystopian tale in the vein of the George Orwell classic 1984, and as thought-provoking, thoroughly satisfying entertainment.

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Twelfth Night

A delightfully comic tale of mistaken identities, Twelfth Night revolves around the physical likeness between Sebastian and his twin sister, Viola, each of whom, when separated after a shipwreck, believes the other to be dead. The theatrical romp begins when Viola assumes the identity of Cesario, a page in the household of the Duke of Orsino. The Duke is enamored of the Countess Olivia, who spurns him for the newly arrived young page. The comical machinations of Malvolio, Sir Toby Belch, the maid Maria, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek add to the ensuing confusion — all of which is pleasantly resolved when Viola and Sebastian meet once again. Filled with some of the finest comedic scenes in the English language, this entertaining masterpiece remains one of Shakespeare's most popular and most performed comedies.

Frankenstein

A young Swiss student discovers the secret of animating lifeless matter and, by assembling body parts, creates a monster who vows revenge on his creator after being rejected from society.

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The Raven
This anthology is a thorough introduction to classic literature for those who have not yet experienced these literary masterworks. For those who have known and loved these works in the past, this is an invitation to reunite with old friends in a fresh new format. From Shakespeare's finesse to Oscar Wilde's wit, this unique collection brings together works as diverse and influential as The Pilgrim's Progress and Othello. As an anthology that invites readers to immerse themselves in the masterpieces of the literary giants, it is must-have addition to any library.
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Animal Farm

This is a classic tale of humanity awash in totalitarianism. A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. First published during the epoch of Stalinist Russia, today it is clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, and under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of Orwell's masterpiece is a message still ferociously fresh.

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1984
View our feature on George Orwell's 1984.

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is more timely that ever. 1984 presents a "negative utopia," that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world—so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

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Winnie the Pooh
Happy 80th birthday, Pooh! The Bear of Very Little Brain and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood have delighted generations of readers since Winnie-the-Pooh was first published in 1926. This deluxe anniversary edition of Winnie-the-Pooh is the perfect way to celebrate the enduring popularity of A. A. Milne's classic work. The interior features the unabridged text and Ernest H. Shepard's charming illustrations in full color on cream-colored stock. It is an impressive package for new fans and collectors both. Three cheers for Pooh!
release date: Nov 28, 2012
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Les Mis�rables (Hapgood Translation) (Illustrated) (Unabridged) (Carefully Crafted Classics�)
Vive Les Misérables! We earnestly believe this to be the finest electronic edition of Hugo's masterpiece ever published at any price. We promise you will see extraordinary quality and attention to detail on every page and enjoy these features:

1) The Hapgood translation is the best and most enduring, truly complete and unabridged translation. Most other translators, whatever their virtues, take it upon themselves to omit large portions of Hugo's work or relegate them to appendices. Hugo refused to do this himself, and the Hapgood translation retains all as Hugo intended. Let the reader skip lightly through digressions from the story if so desired; that should be the reader's choice, not the translator's.

2) We have included an excellent essay on Hugo's life and work, illustrated with many images of the author and his family, as well as Hugo's letter to his Italian publisher regarding the reach of his novel to all nations and peoples.

3) We have liberally sprinkled the text with some 200 illustrations from early print editions (including, of course, the uncropped, unforgettable image of Cosette sweeping).

4) Our proofreading and formatting are unsurpassed in quality. You will find here every accented character and every italicized word. Where previously censored place names are known (such as D. for Digne and B. for Brignolles), they are given here in full. What you will not find are tiresome typos and poor e-book design.

Carefully Crafted Classics® strives to publish the electronic equivalent of the finest print editions. We aim to be the luxury line of e-publishing at a modest price.

A final word to anyone unsure of undertaking this lengthy work: Begin . . . and endure to the end! Your perseverance will be richly rewarded.

More from Carefully Crafted Classics®
Anna Karenina (Maude Translation)
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The Scarlet Letter
First published in 1850, The Scarlet Letter is Nathaniel Hawthorne's masterpiece and one of the greatest American novels. Its themes of sin, guilt, and redemption, woven through a story of adultery in the early days of the Massachusetts Colony, are revealed with remarkable psychological penetration and understanding of the human heart.
Hester Prynne is the adulteress, forced by the Puritan community to wear a scarlet letter A on the breast of her gown. Arthur Dimmesdale, the minister and the secret father of her child, Pearl, struggles with the agony of conscience and his own weakness. Roger Chillingworth, Hester's husband, revenges himself on Dimmesdale by calculating assaults on the frail mental state of the conscience-stricken cleric. The result is an American tragedy of stark power and emotional depth that has mesmerized critics and readers for nearly a century and a half.
A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
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The Count of Monte Cristo
Imprisoned for a crime he didn t commit, Edmond Dantès spends 14 bitter years in a dungeon. When his daring escape plan works he uses all he has learned during his incarceration to mastermind an elaborate plan of revenge that will bring punishment to those he holds responsible for his fate. No longer the naïve sailor who disappeared into the dark fortress all those years ago, he reinvents himself as the charming, mysterious, and powerful Count of Monte Cristo.
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Great Expectations

In this unflaggingly suspenseful story of aspirations and moral redemption, humble, orphaned Pip, a ward of his short-tempered older sister and her husband, Joe, is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman. And, indeed, it seems as though that dream is destined to come to pass — because one day, under sudden and enigmatic circumstances, he finds himself in possession of "great expectations." In telling Pip's story, Dickens traces a boy's path from a hardscrabble rural life to the teeming streets of 19th-century London, unfolding a gripping tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward, and love and loss. Its compelling characters include Magwitch, the fearful and fearsome convict; Estella, whose beauty is excelled only by her haughtiness; and the embittered Miss Havisham, an eccentric jilted bride.
Written in the last decade of Dickens' life, Great Expectations was praised widely and universally admired. It was his last great novel, and many critics believe it to be his finest. Readers and critics alike praised it for its masterful plot, which rises above the melodrama of some of his earlier works, and for its three-dimensional, psychologically realistic characters — characters much deeper and more interesting than the one-note caricatures of earlier novels. "In none of his other works," wrote the reviewer in the 1861 Atlantic, "does he evince a shrewder insight into real life, and a cheaper perception and knowledge of what is called the world." To Swinburne, the novel was unparalleled in all of English fiction, with defects "as nearly imperceptible as spots on the sun or shadows on a sunlit sea." Shaw found it Dickens' "most completely perfect book." Now this inexpensive edition invites modern readers to savor this timeless masterpiece, teeming with colorful characters, unexpected plot twists, and Dickens' vivid rendering of the vast tapestry of mid-Victorian England.

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David Copperfield
Based in part on the author's own life, David Copperfield is the epic story of a young man's journey of self-discovery - from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to his vocation as a successful novelist. Among the memorable cast of characters he encounters along the way are his brutal stepfather, Mr Murdstone; bubbly Nurse Peggotty; his brilliant, but unworthy schoolmate Steerforth, his eccentric aunt, Betsy Trotwood, the scheming clerk Uriah Heep, the enchanting Dora and the magnificent Mr Macawber - a character much like Dickens' own father. Full of tragedy and comedy in equal measure, David Copperfield remains one of the most enduring and popular of Dickens' novels.
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The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles is a crime novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialised in the Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set largely on Dartmoor in Devon in England's West Country and tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound.
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Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Venture back in time to Victorian London to join literature's greatest detective team — the brilliant Sherlock Holmes and his devoted assistant, Dr. Watson — as they investigate a dozen of their best-known cases. Originally published in 1892, this is the first and best collection of stories about the legendary sleuth. It's also the least expensive edition available.
Featured tales include several of the author's personal favorites: "A Scandal in Bohemia" — in which a king is blackmailed by a former lover and Holmes matches wits with the only woman to attract his open admiration — plus "The Speckled Band," "The Red-Headed League," and "The Five Orange Pips." Additional mysteries include "The Blue Carbuncle," "The Engineer's Thumb," "The Beryl Coronet," "The Copper Beeches," and four others. 
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Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe runs away from home to join the navy. After a series of adventures at sea, he is shipwrecked in a devastating storm, and finds himself alone on a remote desert island. He remains there many years, building a life for himself in solitude, until the day he discovers another man s footprint in the sand.
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
One of the most popular and most quoted books in English, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was the creation of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832–1898), a distinguished scholar, mathematician, and author who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. Written for young readers but enjoyed equally by adults, the wonderfully fantastic tale is credited with revolutionizing children's literature and liberating it from didactic constraints.
The story is deeply but gently satiric, enlivened with an imaginative plot and brilliant use of nonsense, as it relates Alice's adventures in a bizarre, topsy-turvy land underground. There she encounters a cast of strange characters and fanciful beasts, including the White Rabbit, March Hare, Mad Hatter, the sleepy Dormouse and grinning Cheshire Cat, the Mock Turtle, the dreadful Queen of Hearts, and a host of other unusual creatures. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
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JANE EYRE
Jane Eyre is the story of a small, plain-faced, intelligent, and passionate English orphan. Jane is abused by her aunt and cousin and then attends a harsh charity school. Through it all she remains strong and determinedly refuses to allow a cruel world to crush her independence or her strength of will. A masterful story of a woman's quest for freedom and love. Jane Eyre is partly autobiographical, and Charlotte Brontë filled it with social criticism and sinister Gothic elements. A must read for anyone wishing to celebrate the indomitable strength of will or encourage it in their growing children.
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