Books for avid readers

These are often considered "classics," which means they're not always easy. But they're rewarding!

  • Pride and PrejudiceJane Austen
  • Tale of Two CitiesCharles Dickens
  • Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  • Invisible ManRalph Ellison
  • Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  • 1984George Orwell
  • Crime and PunishmentFyodor Dostoevsky
  • For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway
  • All the King’s MenRobert Penn Warren
  • The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fun Reads

These books are either funny, short, or generally entertaining to read.
  • Pudd’nhead WilsonMark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • Catch 22Joseph Heller
  • I’m a Stranger Here MyselfBill Bryson
  • Big Trouble - Dave Barry
  • Cannery Row - John Steinbeck

Descriptive Books

The kind of descriptive writing in these books is captivating and enchanting, which means the setting plays a large role in them. If, however, you refuse to appreciate description, you may want to steer clear of these.
  • Ethan FromeEdith Wharton (set in New England in winter)
  • Death Comes to the ArchbishopWilla Cather (set in the Southwest)
  • My AntoniaWilla Cather (set in the plains of Nebraska)


Maybe you're looking for a book where your muscles tense and you take on the intensity of the story's action. These could be for you.
  • Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkein
  • Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer (about a fatal trip up Mt. Everest)


Sometimes you want to read about something that really happened. Try these.
  • Into the WildJon Krakauer (about a man who lived in the wild of Alaska)
  • Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer (about a fatal trip up Mt. Everest)
  • Friday Night Lights - H.G. Bissinger (ignore the movie and the TV show - the book gives a real evaluation of American football culture)

War Books

What is the attraction to war stories? Is it that theme of ultimate conflict between people? These books deal with it in an engaging manner.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque (about WWI)
  • Killer Angels - Michael Shaara (about the Civil War's Battle at Gettysburg)
  • The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien (about the Vietnam War, written as a pretend memoir)

Societal Sins

Though difficult to categorize, these books' conflicts surround sins of our societies: racism, class systems, persecution, and more. That is not to say the characters are without moral responsibility, but read these and you'll see how a character can be both a victim and a cause of his own demise.
  • Native Son - Richard Wright (This is the kind of book that is difficult to put down.)
  • Cry, the Beloved Country - Alan Paton

Themes for Teens

For some reason, the ideas and characters of these books continue to ring bells with teens.
  • Catcher in the RyeJ.D. Salinger
  • A Separate Peace - John Knowles
  • Go Ask Alice - Anonymous

Modern Writers

While I'm not your best source for recommendations on living authors, I can point you towards a few interesting titles.
  • The Dream Life of Sukhanov - Olga Grushin
  • Cold MountainCharles Frazier
  • Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt (a memoir of McCourt's childhood in Ireland, written from the perspective of a child.)


Some of these stories leave you thinking, "what?" But that is what the writers were trying to do - so think away!
  • Short Stories – Flannery O’Connor
  • Short Stories - Ernest Hemmingway


You have to read Shakespeare for school, but if you ever get the urge to read one on your own, try these.
  • King Lear (my all-time favorite)
  • The Merchant of Venice