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Literature & Adult Fiction

The value of a book lies in the author's ability to convey meaning. This is the most basic—and in recent years most overlooked—fact about writing. Words on the page must tell us something or they're worthless. Experimenters are free to try new methods, but if the result is empty drivel their creation will end up just another misguided novelty.

Almost equally important is the value of the author's message. Anyone can understand a cheap romance novel or mystery thriller, but if there's a message it's typically trite. Paradise Lost takes more work, but the beauty of Milton's style and the depth of his perception and observations on human (and divine, and demonic) nature have steeled readers to make the effort for centuries.

Which implies—reading is not merely for entertainment. The art of reading to empty the mind is not brand-new (as any perusal of titles in the Rare Old Books room of your local mega-bookstore will reveal), though with the increasing ease of publication it has grown. People have always looked to get the same experience from books that comes from watching a TV show. But there is a still better way.

Reading-to-Broaden-the-Soul is even older than reading-to-induce-a-comatose-state. Each person that comes by it makes the discovery in a different way, whether by hearing a line from a Keats poem, or finding a derelict copy of All Quiet on the Western Front on a discount shelf and reading the whole thing in an afternoon, or realizing that Aristophanes is still funny 2400 years later.

Reading the right books is good for us, but it's also enjoyment of the highest and best kind, and both for the same reason: reading great literature is dangerous. You don't get to leave the last page of Crime and Punishment unchanged. After hundreds of pages with David Copperfield it's a different You that peers back from the mirror. King Arthur will pull apart your insides and rearrange them with the violence of a medieval warlord.

You won't find a lot of rainbows and sunshine here. At least, you won't find them alone, certainly not without the lightning storms that always come first. You'll find humanity, with all the bloodshed and terror and sorrow and weakness and confusion of the race. But you'll also find joy and beauty and goodness and comfort, as much as any of those things are part of life.

These are some of the best poems, novels, plays and philosophical treatises ever written. Hopefully you'll find some enjoyment, though if it's not all as "fun" as you expected, try adjusting your expectations before starting a burn pile. Hopefully, you'll grow a little with each Boo Radley, Romeo Montague, Esther Summerson, Starbuck, and Rose of Sharon Joad you encounter.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

 

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2,540 Items found Print
"We"
by Charles A. Lindbergh
from Penguin Putnam
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
$7.50 (1 in stock)
100 Best-Loved Poems
Dover Thrift Editions
by Philip Smith
from Dover Publications
Poetry for 10th-Adult
in Poetry Anthologies (Location: APO-05A)
$3.00
101 Animal Stories
by Anne-Marie Dalmais
from Golden Press
for Preschool-2nd grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
101 Great American Poems
Dover Thrift Editions
by Paul Negri
from Dover Publications
Poetry for 10th-Adult
in Poetry Anthologies (Location: APO-05A)
$3.00
1421: The Year China Discovered America
by Gavin Menzies
1st edition from William Morrow & Company
for Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$12.00 (1 in stock)
1984
Signet Classics
by George Orwell
from Signet Classics
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$9.99
1984
by George Orwell
from Harcourt
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$16.00
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Sterling Classics
by Jules Verne
from Sterling Publishing Co.
for 5th-10th grade
in Sterling Classics (Location: A04-04A)
$14.95
2001: A Space Odyssey
by Arthur C. Clarke
from ROC Science Fiction
for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$7.99
2010: Odyssey Two
by Arthur C. Clarke
from Del Rey
for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$7.99
21
Aubrey/Maturin #21
by Patrick O'Brian
from W. W. Norton and Co.
Nautical Fiction for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
26 Fairmount Avenue
by Tomie De Paola
from G.P. Putnam's Sons
for 2nd-4th grade
Newbery Honor Book
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
A Portrait of Dickens
by Ralph Straus
from J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
for 8th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Abolition of Man
by C. S. Lewis
from HarperCollins
Philosophy/Religion for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$13.99
Abolition of Man
by C. S. Lewis
from Touchstone
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$4.50 (1 in stock)
Abraham Lincoln: A Play
by John Drinkwater
from Houghton Mifflin
for 8th-12th grade
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Abraham Lincoln: Great Speeches
Dover Thrift Editions
by Abraham Lincoln & John Grafton, editor
from Dover Publications
Political Philosophy for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$2.00 $1.20 (1 in stock)
Abraham Lincoln: Selected Speeches and Writings
by Abraham Lincoln
from Library of America
for 9th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$16.95
Account of Mary Rowlandson and Other Indian Captivity Narratives
by Mary Rowlandson
from Dover Publications
for 9th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: CLT-17C)
$5.95
Adam Bede
Signet Classics
by George Eliot
from Signet Classics
Realistic Fiction for 9th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$6.95
Adam Bede
Everyman's Library
by George Eliot
from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Realistic Fiction for 9th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$19.20
Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Conan Doyle
from Penguin Classics
for 7th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$14.00 $9.00 (1 in stock)
Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Sterling Classics
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Unabridged from Sterling Publishing Co.
for 7th-12th grade
in Sterling Classics (Location: A04-04A)
$14.95
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
from Dover Publications
Realistic Fiction for 7th-10th grade
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$4.50 $2.00 (2 in stock)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
from Easton Press
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$19.00 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
from Penguin Classics
for 9th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$8.00
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
New Ed from University of California Press
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$15.95
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
Centennial facsim. ed. with a new introd. and bibl from Harper & Row
for 9th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
3rd edition from W. W. Norton and Co.
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
from Bantam Books
Realistic Fiction for 7th-10th grade
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$5.95
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
from Grosset & Dunlap
for 4th-6th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: A04-01A)
$2.50 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Pinocchio
by Carlo Collodi
1st edition from Steerforth Press
for 9th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Roderick Random
by Tobias Smollett
from Oxford University
for Adult
in 18th Century Literature (Location: CLT-18C)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Theodore Roosevelt
by Theodore Roosevelt
from National Geographic
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
$16.00
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Dover Thrift Editions
by Mark Twain
from Dover Publications
for 6th-10th grade
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$5.00
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
from Reader's Digest
for 7th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$6.50 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Puffin Classics
by Mark Twain
from Penguin Classics
Realistic Fiction for 6th-10th grade
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$9.00
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
from Grosset & Dunlap
for 4th-6th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: A04-01A)
$2.50 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Audio Book (CD)
by Jim Weiss
from Greathall Productions
for 3rd-8th grade
in Greathall Storyteller CDs (Location: APO-01C)
Adventures of Young Buffalo Bill: To the Frontier
by E. Cody Kimmel
1St Edition from HarperCollins
for 3rd-5th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: A05-01A)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Aeneid
by Virgil (translation by Robert Fitzgerald)
from Vintage Classics
Ancient Literature/Epic Poetry for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: CLT-ANC)
$14.00 $8.00 (5 in stock)
Aeneid
Everyman's Library
by Virgil (translation by Robert Fitzgerald)
from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Ancient Literature/Epic Poetry for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: CLT-ANC)
$16.80
Aeneid
by Virgil (translation by Robert Fagles)
from Penguin Putnam
for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: CLT-ANC)
$18.00 $10.00 (1 in stock)
Aeneid
Penguin Classics
by Virgil (translation by David West)
Reissue from Penguin Classics
for 9th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: CLT-ANC)
$14.00
Aeschylus I: The Oresteia (old)
The Complete Greek Tragedies
by Aeschylus (translation by Richmond Lattimore)
from University of Chicago
Ancient Greek Tragedy for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: CLT-ANC)
$6.00 (3 in stock)
Aeschylus II: The Oresteia
The Complete Greek Tragedies
by Aeschylus (translation by Richmond Lattimore)
3rd edition from University of Chicago
Ancient Greek Tragedy for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: CLT-ANC)
$12.00 $8.00 (1 in stock)
Aeschylus' Oresteia
Penguin Classics
by Aeschylus (translation by Robert Fagles)
from Penguin Classics
Ancient Greek Tragedy for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: CLT-ANC)
$13.00 $7.00 (4 in stock)
Aeschylus' Oresteia
Penguin Classics
by Aeschylus (translation by Phillip Vellacott)
from Penguin Classics
Ancient Greek Tragedy for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: CLT-ANC)
$12.00
Aesop's Fables
by Aesop
from Henry Holt and Company
Fairy Tales, Fables, and Legends for 1st-5th grade
in Picture Books (Location: CPB-03)
$8.95
Aesop's Fables
by Aesop
from Signet Classics
Fairy Tales & Fables for 10th grade-adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: CLT-ANC)
$5.95 $3.00 (1 in stock)
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