Books take us to a new place and time and they are a great escape anytime.
Stories help us understand where we have been and why we are here.
The following are some novels you really ought to read.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - this is really a good book about justice and deeply held beliefs, right and wrong, and the agony of growing up.
- True Grit by Charles Portis - this is the story of Mattie Ross and her quest for justice with the rascally sheriff Rooster Cogburn. The story is a favorite and the book is genius.
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
- The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett - this supposed debut of the hard-boiled detective novel makes the list because of the line that the statue was 'the stuff dreams are made of.' The guy could write.
- Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty - about two strangely literate Texas rangers who decide to become cattle ranchers, and out - Sundance Butch and the Kid.
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - You will love this story of psychological obsession and immortality by one of the most underrated writers of the 20th century.
- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams - this is the sequel to 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.' Facing the end of life as we know it, is it too much to ask to find a good cup of tea and some biscuits?
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- The Magus by Jon Fowles - this is a story about this crazy part romance, part horror, part Gothic book, in which nothing and on one is what it seems.
- in our time by Ernest Hemingway - the lower case name is correct. This is his first big published book of heart-breaking stories. You will see why his style was so imitated and why it never could by copied. Ever.
- Different Seasons by Stephen King - great short story stylists - author's favorite.
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson - often sported as the best first paragraph in all prose, this story is still as paralyzingly scary as it was the day it was written.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- Red Dragon by Thomas Harris - gruesome and terrifying. Read it if you dare.
- The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara - a Pulitzer Prize wining novel of the Civil War. Story of the longest days of our nation's lives, three hot sunsets in Gettysburg, and why even the beautiful and brave can be wrong, and the glum, stubborn and foolish as right as dawn.
- Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner - story of two couples, about loyalty and its limits as any I've ever read.
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - story of the haves and how they think of the have-nots, because they are helpless to think of them any other way. You might call it a 1920s tale of the one percent.
- Charlotte's Web by E.B. White - those who think of this small book about a gallant spider's fight to save the life of a runt pig as a children's story are letting children have all the fun.
List and comments by Jacquelyn Mitchard, March 2, 2012, AARP Bulletin.
Shared from Minneapolis Star Tribune - Book Section, Sunday, February 23, 2013