Classics

The Star Rover

By Jack London

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"...the story of San Quentin death-row inmate Darrell Standing, who escapes the horror of prison life—-and long stretches in a straitjacket—-by withdrawing into vivid dreams of past lives, including incarnations as a French nobleman and an Englishman in medieval Korea. Based on the life and imprisonment of Jack London’s friend Ed Morrell, this is one of the author’s most complex and original works."

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She: A History of Adventure

By H. Rider Haggard

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"A runaway bestseller on its publication in 1887, H. Rider Haggard’s She is a Victorian thrill ride of a novel, featuring a lost African kingdom ruled by a mysterious, implacable queen; ferocious wildlife and yawning abysses; and an eerie love story that spans two thousand years. She has bewitched readers from Freud and Jung to C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien... ."
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The House on Mango Street

By Sandra Cisneros

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"Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become."

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My Antonia

By Willa Cather

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Against Nebraska's panoramic landscape, "My Antonia" recreates the life of an immigrant girl who becomes, in the memories of the narrator, the ideal of strong and resourceful womanhood and a figure of salvation.
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Tortilla Flat

By John Steinbeck

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Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, Steinbeck created a "Camelot" on a shabby hillside above Monterey on the California coast and peopled it with a colorful band of knights. As Steinbeck chronicles their thoughts and emotions, temptations and lusts, he spins a tale as compelling, and ultimately as touched by sorrow, as the famous legends of the Round Table.
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The Bridge of San Luis Rey

By Thornton Wilder

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On Friday noon, July the Twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.

"With this celebrated sentence Thornton Wilder begins 'The Bridge of San Luis Rey,' one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world. By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper then embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His search leads to his own death -- and to the author's timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition."

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Rebecca

By Daphne du Maurier

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A young woman weds a wealthy widower and goes to live in his palatial Cornish estate. Her good fortune turns nightmarish, however, when she finds herself haunted by the spector of Rebecca, her husband's first wife.

On Film:
Rebecca is a true classic, as is Alfred Hitchcock's spine-tingling 1940 movie adaptation, featuring a darkly handsome Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter and a fresh-faced Joan Fontaine as the young Mrs. de Winter. This classic movie is a must see! For an updated look at Rebecca check out this 1997 release starring Charles Dance, Emilia Fox, Diana Rigg, Faye Dunaway, Geraldine James. This movie adaptation is recommended for true Rebecca fanatics only-- it's almost three hours long!

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Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen

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In early nineteenth-century England, a spirited young woman copes with the suit of a snobbish gentleman as well as the romantic entanglements of her four sisters.

On Film:
The 1995 BBC/A&E production of Pride and Prejudice, starring Colin Firth, is a must see for Austen fans and hopeless romantics. This adaptation is five hours long, but every minute is great. (Also available on VHS.) For black & white film buffs, check out the 1940 film version with Laurence Olivier and Maureen O'Sullivan. The screenplay for this film was written by Brave New World author Aldous Huxley. Finally, Bridget Jones's Diary puts a modern spin on Austen's classic.

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The Pearl

By John Steinbeck

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"For the diver Kino, finding a magnificent pearl means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dreams blind him to the greed that the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors. Baring the fallacy of the American dream--that wealth erases all problems--Steinbeck's classic illustrates our fall from innocence."
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War and Peace

By Leo Tolstoy

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"A sweeping, romantic saga of two noble families and their intertwined destiny, and a panoramic portrait of Russian society at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, Tolstoy's unforgettable masterpiece has inspired love and devotion in its readers for generations.

"Now read the original version of Russia's most famous novel, which never made it to publication in Tolstoy's lifetime. Undiscovered for more than a century, this edition-with its subtly different characters, dialogue, and ending-is essential reading for devotees of Tolstoy and new readers alike: it is world-class fiction in its most vivid and vital form."

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