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Classic Sets

A Christmas Carol

By: Charles Dickens


Genre: classic and holiday Books in Set:7

Cruel miser Ebeneezer Scrooge has never met a shilling he doesn’t like. . .and hardly a man he does. And he hates Christmas most of all. When Scrooge is visited by his old partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, he learns eternal lessons of charity, kindness, and goodwill.

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Frankenstein

By: Mary Shelley


Genre: classic Books in Set:10

Few creatures of horror have seized readers’ imaginations and held them for so long as the anguished monster of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The story of Victor Frankenstein’s terrible creation and the havoc it caused has enthralled generations of readers and inspired countless writers of horror and suspense. Considering the novel’s enduring success, it is remarkable that it began merely as a whim of Lord Byron’s.
“We will each write a story,” Byron announced to his next-door neighbors, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley. The friends were summering on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland in 1816, Shelley still unknown as a poet and Byron writing the third canto of Childe Harold. When continued rains kept them confined indoors, all agreed to Byron’s proposal.
The illustrious poets failed to complete their ghost stories, but Mary Shelley rose supremely to the challenge. With Frankenstein, she succeeded admirably in the task she set for herself: to create a story that, in her own words, “would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror — one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.”

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The Great Gatsby

By: F. Scott Fitzgerald


Genre: classic Books in Set:10

 

The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when, The New York Times remarked, “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s that resonates with the power of myth. A novel of lyrical beauty yet brutal realism, of magic, romance, and mysticism, The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.

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Hattie Big Sky

By: Kirby Larson


Genre: classic and historical fiction Books in Set:9

Alone in the world, teen-aged Hattie is driven to prove up on her uncle’s homesteading claim.

For years, sixteen-year-old Hattie’s been shuttled between relatives. Tired of being Hattie Here-and-There, she courageously leaves Iowa to prove up on her late uncle’s homestead claim near Vida, Montana. With a stubborn stick-to-itiveness, Hattie faces frost, drought and blizzards. Despite many hardships, Hattie forges ahead, sharing her adventures with her friends–especially Charlie, fighting in France–through letters and articles for her hometown paper.

Her backbreaking quest for a home is lightened by her neighbors, the Muellers. But she feels threatened by pressure to be a “Loyal” American, forbidding friendships with folks of German descent. Despite everything, Hattie’s determined to stay until a tragedy causes her to discover the true meaning of home.

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The Hobbit

By: J.R.R. Tolkien


Genre: classic and sci-fi fantasy Books in Set:8

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

The hobbit-hole in question belongs to one Bilbo Baggins, an upstanding member of a “little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded dwarves.” He is, like most of his kind, well off, well fed, and best pleased when sitting by his own fire with a pipe, a glass of good beer, and a meal to look forward to. Certainly this particular hobbit is the last person one would expect to see set off on a hazardous journey; indeed, when Gandalf the Grey stops by one morning, “looking for someone to share in an adventure,” Baggins fervently wishes the wizard elsewhere. No such luck, however; soon 13 fortune-seeking dwarves have arrived on the hobbit’s doorstep in search of a burglar, and before he can even grab his hat or an umbrella, Bilbo Baggins is swept out his door and into a dangerous adventure. (Amazon.com review)

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Jane Eyre

By: Charlotte Bronte


Genre: classic and romance Books in Set:10

Set somewhere in the north of England, during the reign of George III (1760–1820), Jane Eyre transports readers through five distinct stages: Jane’s childhood at Gateshead Hall, where she is emotionally and physically abused by her aunt and cousins; her education at Lowood School, where she acquires friends and role models but also suffers privations and oppression; her time as the governess of Thornfield Hall, where she falls in love with her Byronic employer, Edward Rochester; her time with the Rivers family, during which her earnest but cold clergyman cousin, St John Rivers, proposes to her; and the finale with her reunion with, and marriage to, her beloved Rochester. During these sections the novel provides perspectives on a number of important social issues and ideas, many of which are critical of the status quo. Literary critic Jerome Beaty notes that the close first person perspective leaves the reader “too uncritically accepting of her worldview” and often leads reading and conversation about the novel towards supporting Jane, regardless of how irregular her ideas or perspectives.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

By: Harper Lee


Genre: classic Books in Set:10

Classic Pulitzer prize winner where eight-year-old “Scout” Finch tells of life in a small Alabama town where her father is a lawyer.

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By: C.S. Lewis


Genre: classic and sci-fi fantasy Books in Set:7

Four English school children find their way through the back of a wardrobe into the magic land of Narnia and assist Aslan, the golden lion, to triumph over the White Witch who has cursed the land with eternal winter.

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A Little Princess

By: Frances Hodgson Burnett


Genre: classic, realistic fiction, and Junior Books in Set:10

A Little Princess, a 1904 children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, follows the story of Sara Crewe, a young girl sent to a boarding school in London where she is to be lavishly cared for as instructed by her doting, wealthy father, Captain Crewe. When her father dies, and she is left an orphan and a pauper, Sara becomes a servant at the school, and befriends a maid with whom she shares an attic room. Her imagination keeps her alive in her destitute life, and the rich stories she invents become as real to the reader as they do for Sara and the maid. This book has delighted children and adults alike for many years, and will continue to captivate readers for years to come.

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Matilda

By: Roald Dahl


Genre: classic, sci-fi fantasy, and Junior Books in Set:10

 

Follows the story of an exceptional little girl whose lazy parents dismiss her as a nuisance and who discovers in the wake of a cruel headmistress’s bullying that she has a remarkable power with which to avenge herself.

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The Outsiders

By: S.E. Hinton


Genre: classic and Teen Books in Set:10

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.

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Peace Like a River

By: Leif Enger


Genre: classic Books in Set:6

Eleven-year-old Reuben shares the story of how his father, trying to raise his sons alone in 1960s Minnesota, takes their family on a quest to find Reuben’s older brother, who has been charged with murder.

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Pride and Prejudice

By: Jane Austen


Genre: classic and romance Books in Set:10

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.

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A River Runs Through It

By: Norman Maclean


Genre: classic and historical fiction Books in Set:7

 

Maclean writes “in my family, there is no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.” Nor is there a clear line between family and fly-fishing. It is the one activity where brother can connect with brother and father with son. In Maclean’s autobiographical novella, it is the river that makes them realize that life continues and all things are related.

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A Separate Peace

By: John Knowles


Genre: classic and historical fiction Books in Set:7

Gene Forrester looks back fifteen years to a World War II year in which he and his best friend Phineas were roommates in a New Hampshire boarding school. Their friendship is marred by Finny’s crippling fall, an event for which Gene is responsible and one that eventually leads to tragedy.

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The Sun Also Rises

By: Ernest Hemingway


Genre: classic Books in Set:10

 

A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

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Tess of the D’Urbervilles

By: Thomas Hardy


Genre: classic Books in Set:9

 

When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D’Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future.

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

By: Betty Smith


Genre: classic and historical fiction Books in Set:9

Named one of the books of the century by the New York Public Library, this is the profoundly moving classic about a young girl coming of age at the turn of the century. Born in 1901 in the slums of Brooklyn, Francie Nolan has grown up under the burden of suffering that is the lot of the great city’s poor. Romantic like her father, an Irish singing waiter, yet pragmatic like her mother, a housecleaner and fierce survivor, Francie uses her imagination and tenacity to thrive in the world in spite of these harsh conditions.First published in 1943, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn created a stir in genteel society with its frank descriptions of poverty’s squalor. But the book’s rich humor and pathos and its wealth of unforgettable characters have ensured its place in American literature.

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Yellow Star

By: Jennifer Roy


Genre: classic and historical fiction Books in Set:9

From 1939, when Syvia is four and a half years old, to 1945 when she has just turned ten, a Jewish girl and her family struggle to survive in Poland’s Lodz ghetto during the Nazi occupation.

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