Books Everyone Should Read

View all Best Recommendations for Kids book lists; This list was last updated on 7/30/2013
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A Clockwork Orange (Restored Text)

A newly revised text for A Clockwork Orange's 50th anniversary brings the work closest to its author's intentions.

A Clockwork Orange is as brilliant, transgressive, and influential as when it was published fifty years ago. A nightmare vision of the future told in its own fantastically inventive lexicon, it has since become a classic of modern literature and the basis for Stanley Kubrick's once-banned film, whose recent reissue has brought this revolutionary tale on modern civilization to an even wider audience. Andrew Biswell, PhD, director of the International Burgess Foundation, has taken a close look at the three varying published editions alongside the original typescript to recreate the novel as Anthony Burgess envisioned it. We publish this landmark edition with its original British cover and six of Burgess's own illustrations. 6 illustrations
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His Dark Materials
The only hardcover omnibus of the best-selling and award-winning fantasy trilogy, in a Contemporary Classics edition.
 
Philip Pullman's trilogy is a masterpiece that transcends genre and appeals to readers of all ages. His heroine, Lyra, is an orphan living in a parallel universe in which science, theology, and magic are entwined. The epic story that takes us through the three novels is not only a spellbinding adventure featuring armored polar bears, magical devices, witches, and daemons, it is also an audacious and profound reimagining of Milton's Paradise Lost that has already inspired a number of serious books of literary criticism. Like J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis before him, Pullman has invented a richly detailed and marvelously imagined world, complex and thought-provoking enough to enthrall adults as well as younger readers. An utterly entrancing blend of metaphysical speculation and bravura storytelling, His Dark Materials is a monumental and enduring achievement.
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Lord of the Flies
The classic novel by William Golding
With a new Introduction by Stephen King

"To me Lord of the Flies has always represented what novels are for, what makes them indispensable." -Stephen King

Golding's classic, startling, and perennially bestselling portrait of human nature remains as provocative today as when it was first published. This beautiful new edition features French flaps and rough fronts, making it a must-have for fans of this seminal work.

William Golding's compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic. At first it seems as though it is all going to be great fun; but the fun before long becomes furious and life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic and death. As ordinary standards of behaviour collapse, the whole world the boys know collapses with them—the world of cricket and homework and adventure stories—and another world is revealed beneath, primitive and terrible.

Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature.

Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies has established itself as a true classic.

 

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
The extraordinary "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" is one of the most significant and outspoken literary documents ever to come out of Soviet Russia. A brutal depiction of life in a Stalinist camp and a moving tribute to man's triumph of will over relentless dehumanization, this is Alexander Sotzhenitsyn's first novel to win international acclaim. The Soviet Union eventually revoked the author's citizenship and had him deported, and he only returned recently after the collapse of the U.S.S.R.
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The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

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Middlemarch
George Eliot's Victorian masterpiece: a magnificent portrait of a provincial town and its inhabitants

George Eliot's novel, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, explores a fictional nineteenth-century Midlands town in the midst of modern changes. The proposed Reform Bill promises political change; the building of railroads alters both the physical and cultural landscape; new scientific approaches to medicine incite public division; and scandal lurks behind respectability. The quiet drama of ordinary lives and flawed choices are played out in the complexly portrayed central characters of the novel—the idealistic Dorothea Brooke; the ambitious Dr. Lydgate; the spendthrift Fred Vincy; and the steadfast Mary Garth. The appearance of two outsiders further disrupts the town's equilibrium—Will Ladislaw, the spirited nephew of Dorothea's husband, the Rev. Edward Casaubon, and the sinister John Raffles, who threatens to expose the hidden past of one of the town's elite. Middlemarch displays George Eliot's clear-eyed yet humane understanding of characters caught up in the mysterious unfolding of self-knowledge. This Penguin Classics edition uses the second edition of 1874 and features an introduction and notes by Eliot-biographer Rosemary Ashton. In her introduction, Ashton discusses themes of social change in Middlemarch, and examines the novel as an imaginative embodiment of Eliot's humanist beliefs.

For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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Life of Pi
The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional--but is it more true?
release date: Mar 19, 1996
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The Master and Margarita
Introduction by Simon Franklin; Translation by Michael Glenny
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The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho continues to change the lives of its readers forever. With more than two million copies sold around the world, The Alchemist has established itself as a modern classic, universally admired.

Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found.

The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories can, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams.

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David Copperfield
'The most perfect of all the Dickens novels' Virginia Woolf

David Copperfield is the story of a young man's adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters are his tyrannical stepfather, Mr Murdstone; his brilliant, but ultimately unworthy school-friend James Steerforth; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble, yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora Spenlow; and the magnificently impecunious Wilkins Micawber, one of literature's great comic creations. In David Copperfield - the novel he described as his 'favourite child' - Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of the most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure. This edition uses the text of the first volume publication of 1850, and includes updated suggestions for further reading, original illustrations by 'Phiz', a revised chronology and expanded notes. In his new introduction, Jeremy Tambling discusses the novel's autobiographical elements, and its central themes of memory and identity. 

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
release date: Jun 07, 2011
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The Prophet
2010 Reprint of 1926 London Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Gibran [1887 - April 10, 1931] was a Lebanese American artist, poet, and writer. He is chiefly known in the English speaking world for his 1923 book "The Prophet", a series of philosophical essays written in English prose. An early example of Inspirational fiction, the book sold well despite a cool critical reception, and became extremely popular in the 1960s counterculture. Much of Gibran's writings deal with Christianity, especially on the topic of spiritual love. His poetry is notable for its use of formal language, as well as insights on topics of life using spiritual terms. "The Prophet" is of composed of twenty-six poetic essays. The book became especially popular during the 1960s with the American counterculture and New Age movements. Since it was first published in 1923, it has never been has never been out of print. Having been translated into more than forty languages, it was one of the bestselling books of the twentieth century in the United States. Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.
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The Lovely Bones
Once in a generation a novel comes along that taps a vein of universal human experience, resonating with readers of all ages. THE LOVELY BONES is such a book -- a #1 bestseller celebrated at once for its artistry, for its luminous clarity of emotion, and for its astonishing power to lay claim to the hearts of millions of readers around the world.

"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."

So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her -- her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.

The major motion picture version of THE LOVELY BONES, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, and Saoirse Ronan is scheduled for release on December 11, 2009.
release date: Jan 01, 2005
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Time Travelers Wife
A dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger's cinematic storytelling that makes the novel's unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant.

An enchanting debut and a spellbinding tale of fate and belief in the bonds of love, The Time Traveler's Wife is destined to captivate readers for years to come.
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Great Expectations
'Great Expectations is up there for me with the world's greatest novels' Howard Jacobson

Charles Dickens's Great Expectations charts the course of orphan Pip Pirrip's life as it is transformed by a vast, mysterious inheritance. A terrifying encounter with the escaped convict Abel Magwitch in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decrepit Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella at Satis House; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor - these form a series of events that change the orphaned Pip's life forever, and he eagerly abandons his humble station as an apprentice to blacksmith Joe Gargery, beginning a new life as a gentleman. Charles Dickens's haunting late novel depicts Pip's education and development through adversity as he discovers the true nature of his identity, and his 'great expectations'. This definitive version uses the text from the first published edition of 1861. It includes a map of Kent in the early nineteenth century, and appendices on Dickens's original ending and his working notes, giving readers an illuminating glimpse into the mind of a great novelist at work.  

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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Gone with the Wind
Since its original publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind—winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the bestselling novels of all time—has been heralded by readers everywhere as The Great American Novel.

Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

This is the tale of Scarlett O'Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years.
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release date: Nov 01, 2002
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Wuthering Heights

The text of the novel is based on the first edition of 1847.

For the Fourth Edition, the editor collated the 1847 text with the two modern texts (Norton's William J. Sale collation and the Clarendon), and found a great number of variants, including accidentals. This discovery led to changes in the body of the Norton Critical Edition text that are explained in the preface. New to "Backgrounds and Contexts" are additional letters, a compositional chronology, related prose, and reviews of the 1847 text. "Criticism" collects five important assessments of Wuthering Heights, three of them new to the Fourth Edition, including Lin Haire-Sargeant's essay on film adaptations of the novel.
release date: Jan 01, 1982
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The World of Pooh
Lifelong devotees and new friends of the Bear of Very Little Brain will be glad to see all twenty of A. A. Milne's world-famous Winnie-the-Pooh stories brought together in one beautiful volume. Milne's prose and Ernest H. Shepard's drawings-including full-color art created especially for these editions-perfectly capture the feelings of childhood.
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Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Violated by one man, forsaken by another, Tess Durbeyfield is the magnificent and spirited heroine of Thomas Hardy's immortal work. Of all the great English novelists, no one writes more eloquently of tragic destiny than Hardy. With the innocent and powerless victim Tess, he creates profound sympathy for human frailty while passionately indicting the injustices of Victorian society. Scorned by outraged readers upon its publication in 1891, Tess of the d'Urbervilles is today one of the enduring classics of nineteenth-century literature.
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

This improbable story of Christopher's quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.
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The Grapes of Wrath
The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized—and sometimes outraged—millions of readers.

First published in 1939, Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man's fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman's stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck's powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.

This Centennial edition, specially designed to commemorate one hundred years of Steinbeck, features french flaps and deckle-edged pages.

For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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Birdsong
Published to international critical and popular acclaim, this intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic novel spans three generations and the unimaginable gulf between the First World War and the present. As the young Englishman Stephen Wraysford passes through a tempestuous love affair with Isabelle Azaire in France and enters the dark, surreal world beneath the trenches of No Man's Land, Sebastian Faulks creates a world of fiction that is as tragic as A Farewell to Arms and as sensuous as The English Patient. Crafted from the ruins of war and the indestructibility of love, Birdsong is a novel that will be read and marveled at for years to come.
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All Quiet on the Western Front
Considered by many the greatest war novel of all time, All Quiet on the Western Front is Erich Maria Remarque's masterpiece of the German experience during World War I.

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. . . .

This is the testament of Paul Bäumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army during World War I. They become soldiers with youthful enthusiasm. But the world of duty, culture, and progress they had been taught breaks in pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches.

Through years of vivid horror, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principle of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against one another . . .  if only he can come out of the war alive.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.

“The world has a great writer in Erich Maria Remarque. He is a craftsman of unquestionably first rank, a man who can bend language to his will. Whether he writes of men or of inanimate nature, his touch is sensitive, firm, and sure.”The New York Times Book Review
release date: Oct 24, 2018
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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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A Christmas Carol
The internationally acclaimed illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger spent over two years creating the illustrations for her interpretation of this beloved story. She lends her signature wit, charm, and insightful clarity to pictures that add new dimension and depth to Dickens's tale of the redemption of parsimonious Ebenezer Scrooge by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. The result is a splendid new edition that's sure to be cherished by generations to come.
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Nineteen Eighty-Four
'Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past' Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal. George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four is perhaps the most pervasively influential book of the twentieth century.
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The Lord of the Rings
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

This new edition includes the fiftieth-anniversary fully corrected text setting and, for the first time, an extensive new index.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), beloved throughout the world as the creator of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, a fellow of Pembroke College, and a fellow of Merton College until his retirement in 1959. His chief interest was the linguistic aspects of the early English written tradition, but while he studied classic works of the past, he was creating a set of his own.

Praise for The Lord of the Rings

"An extraordinary work -- pure excitement." -- New York Times Book Review

"One of the great fairy-tale quests in modern literature." -- Time

"A remarkable book." -- Newsweek

"One of the very few works of genius in recent literature." -- New Republic

"A work of immense narrative power that can sweep the reader up and hold him enthralled for days and weeks." -- The Nation

"Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron." -- C. S. Lewis

"The first thing one asks of an adventure story is that the adventure should be various and exciting . . . Tolkien's invention is unflagging." -- W. H. Auden

"J.R.R. Tolkien's epic trilogy remains the ultimate quest, the ultimate battle between good and evil, the ultimate chronicle of stewardship of the earth. Endlessly imitated, it never has been surpassed." -- Kansas City Star

"A masterful story . . . an epic in its own way . . . with elements of high adventure, suspense, mystery, poetry, and fantasy." -- Boston Sunday Herald
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Holy Bible: The Authorized King James Version (KJV) Old and New Testaments [illustrated]
The Authorized Version, commonly known as the King James Version, the King James Bible or simply the KJV, is an English translation by the Church of England of the Christian Bible begun in 1604 and completed in 1611. First printed by the King's Printer, Robert Barker, this was the third such official translation into English; the first having been the Great Bible commissioned by the Church of England in the reign of King Henry VIII, and the second having been the Bishop's Bible of 1568. In January 1604, King James I of England convened the Hampton Court Conference where a new English version was conceived in response to the perceived problems of the earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a faction within the Church of England. James gave the translators instructions intended to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy.The translation was by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin.
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To Kill a Mockingbird

"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel—a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice—but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

One of the best-loved classics of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many dis-tinctions since its original publication in 1960. It has won the Pulitzer Prize, been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. It was also named the best novel of the twentieth century by librarians across the country (Library Journal). HarperCollins is proud to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the book's publication with this special hardcover edition.

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