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25 books my sons must read

ScrawnyPunk
The list author says: "You probably don't care what I think, and that's probably for the best. But, in the off-chance you are just browsing people's reading preferences, these are books which I have read and consider absolutely essential. If I can do it without annoying them to the point of permanent literary abandonment, I will get my three sons to read these books before they turn 30."
Frankenstein (Penguin Classics)
Frankenstein (Penguin Classics)
"My all-time favorite book, and one of the very few books I have read more than once.  Teaching the human condition with a reanimated corpse is something that could not easily be done today."
The Hobbit
The Hobbit
"Everyone needs to read Tolkein.  If you want to read Lord of the Rings, you HAVE to read all three books at once.  An easier route is to read The Hobbit instead.  A great piece of fantasy literature, whether as an introduction to the LOTR or as a stand-alone work."
The Plague
The Plague
"My favorite non-English piece of literature.  A desperate and methodical slog towards an inevitable end, and one of the finest examples of brotherly love in the face of certain death."
The Iliad
The Iliad
"90% of all story lines are contained in the Iliad, and the Odyssey.  I prefer the Fagle version, but it didn't pop up in this search.  At any rate, you can't claim to have taken reading seriously if you haven't read Homer."
Candide
Candide
"Hilarious, insightful, and absolutely applicable today.  Every time I hear someone say "it can't get any worse" I tell them to read Candide.  Of course, those that have typically give me a death-stare..."
Jane Eyre (Vintage Classics)
Jane Eyre (Vintage Classics)
"Its hard to get through college without reading this, but its worth it.  There are very few English novels that are paragons of the form, and this is one."
The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings
The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings
"See my note on the Hobbit.  Between the LOTR and the Hobbit, the LOTR is obviously better.  It just requires a greater commitment.  Not only is Fellowship the first in the trilogy, but it is the easiest to read."
Wuthering Heights (Barnes & Noble Classics)
Wuthering Heights (Barnes & Noble Classics)
"Another book that I absolutely love.  I don't know what was in the water when Shelley and the two Brontes were writing, but it definitely made them wary of the average human.  Such casual evil lurks in the heart of their "heroes."  The "Flawed Man" takes center stage in this tale of abuse and revenge.  It has not been equaled since."
Tom Jones (Oxford World's Classics)
Tom Jones (Oxford World's Classics)
"Another hilarious book.  Tom was simultaneously the luckiest and unluckiest man to grace the 18th-century English literary scene.  Didn't quite care for the interludes, but the story itself is a grand experiment in fate and just desserts.  It is also a great example of what it means to be a gentlemen under the most extreme of circumstances."
The Caine Mutiny: A Novel
The Caine Mutiny: A Novel
"Military discipline exists for a reason.  It is also not tolerated outside of the military...for a reason.  Here is an excellent example of privilege and logic coming into stark confrontation with military necessity.  It wins battle, but loses the war.  I routinely gave this to people who worked for me as a little joke...no one mutinied, but they probably should have."
Henry IV, Part I
Henry IV, Part I
"My favorite play from High School English Lit.  Hard drinking, hard fighting Harry..."
The Aeneid of Virgil (Bantam Classics)
The Aeneid of Virgil (Bantam Classics)
"One of the few books I have ever read in two languages.  Aeneas' escape from Dido was one of my favorite passages in Latin (I can't read it anymore), and it still translates very well into English."
Accident: A Novel (British Literature Series)
Accident: A Novel (British Literature Series)
"A challenging read, but very rewarding.  A philosophical novel written by an under-appreciated writer.  A man struggles with his urges and rationalizes his actions in the face of uncontrollable events."
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (A New Verse Translation)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (A New Verse Translation)
"Some of the best alliteration you'll find.  The parallel hunt/seduction story line is fantastic, and the knight's pursuit of honor in the face of certain death is a lesson which should be taught more often."
The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises
"Another book that I don't think you can get out of high school and college without reading.  And if you do, something is wrong with the curriculum."
The Old Man and The Sea
The Old Man and The Sea
"There are many good books detailing man's struggle against nature, but none so compact.  More importantly, no other man-vs-nature story manages to compellingly draw out the heroism in a stubborn refusal to give in to futility."
Atonement
Atonement
"Very sad, but very good.  Can an author re-create her past to right her wrongs?  If the written word is remembered beyond the last first-hand memory, then the answer is yes."
Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart
"I have not read much African fiction, but this is a very compelling story.  A great example of tragedy that follows when attempting to bridge a cultural gap."
Hopeful Monsters (British Literature Series)
Hopeful Monsters (British Literature Series)
"I don't normally enjoy epistolary novels, but this one does a fantastic job of capturing the turbulent intellectual and political backdrop to 1930's Europe, including the bizarre relationship between oppressor (England) and aggressor (Germany)."
Long Day's Journey into Night
Long Day's Journey into Night
"I think it's important for Southerners to understand the Southern condition.  Your choices are to either read Faulkner or read/watch Tennessee Williams.  Unless you are VERY patient, start with Tennessee Williams."
Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings
Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings
"One of the most creative writers I have come across, Borges' short stories are a shining example of surrealism and magical realism.  Literary snobs love this guy, but Sci-Fi lovers like myself would love this guy as well.  (Incidentally, the only reason I don't include any Sci-Fi novels here is that they don't fit the definition of books I might have to FORCE my sons to read)."
All Quiet On The Western Front
All Quiet On The Western Front
"A horrifying view of war and its effect on those that fight it.  Not quite as revolting as The Ghost Road, but definitely the standard against which WWI novels are measured."
Death in Venice
Death in Venice
"Creepy in the extreme.  The entire city's decay serves as an appropriate backdrop for the protagonists' moral decay as he fawns over a Polish boy."
Hamlet ( Folger Library Shakespeare)
Hamlet ( Folger Library Shakespeare)
"Look - its famous for a reason.  Read it."
Great Expectations (Dover Thrift Editions)
Great Expectations (Dover Thrift Editions)
"One of my childhood fantasies was to have a benevolent benefactor who turned out to be a criminal.  I could do without the crazy man-hater, though..."