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The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume I by Arthur Conan Doyle
4.5 stars, 335 reviews
Volume I of The Complete Sherlock Holmes starts with Holmes’s first appearance, A Study in Scarlet, a chilling murder novel complete with bloodstained walls and cryptic clues, followed by the baffling The Sign of Four, which introduces Holmes’s cocaine problem and Watson’s future wife. The story collections The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes feature such renowned tales as “A Scandal in Bohemia,” “The Red-Headed League,” and “The Musgrave Ritual.”
The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume II by Arthur Conan Doyle
4.5 stars, 115 reviews
Volume II of The Complete Sherlock Holmes begins with The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, tired of writing about Holmes, had killed him off at the end of “The Final Problem,” the last tale in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (found in Volume I of The Complete Sherlock Holmes). Public demand for new Holmes stories was so great, however, that Conan Doyle eventually resurrected him. The first story in The Return, “The Adventure of the Empty House,” features Conan Doyle’s infamously inventive explanation of how Holmes escaped what seemed like certain death.
Iliad by Homer
4 stars, 73 reviews
The Iliad is the oldest Greek poem and perhaps the best-known epic in Western literature, and has inspired countless works of art throughout its long history. An assemblage of stories and legends shaped into a compelling single narrative, The Iliad was probably recited orally by bards for generations before being written down in the eighth century B.C. A beloved fixture of early Greek culture, the poem found eager new audiences when it was translated into many languages during the Renaissance. Its themes of honor, power, status, heroism, and the whims of the gods have ensured its enduring popularity and immeasurable cultural influence.
Odyssey by Homer
4 stars, 108 reviews
Homer’s account of the adventures of Odysseus has stood at the center of classical literature for centuries. It is a sweeping story of a great warrior who wanders the world, but also an intensely domestic tale of a loving husband’s struggle to protect an enduring union with his faithful wife. Meticulously studied and commented upon by innumerable scholars, The Odyssey remains, nonetheless, a uniquely personal literary experience, startling each new generation of readers with its excitement, its drama, and its remarkably contemporary hero.
Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas
4 stars, 22 reviews
France in the 1660s is a boiling cauldron of plots and counter-plots as King Louis XIV struggles to extend his power and transform himself into the ?Sun King.? Locked within the dreaded Bastille prison may be his enemies? ultimate weapon: an anonymous prisoner forced to wear an iron mask so that none may see his face?and learn his astonishing secret. But soon the famed d?Artagnan and the Three Musketeers are swept into the action?but not on the same side! Will they actually be forced to fight each other?
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
4 stars, 159 reviews
A Tale of Two Cities is one of Charles Dickens’s most exciting novels. Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, it tells the story of a family threatened by the terrible events of the past. Doctor Manette was wrongly imprisoned in the Bastille for eighteen years without trial by the aristocratic authorities.
Finally released, he is reunited with his daughter, Lucie, who despite her French ancestry has been brought up in London. Lucie falls in love with Charles Darnay, another expatriate, who has abandoned wealth and a title in France because of his political convictions. When revolution breaks out in Paris, Darnay returns to the city to help an old family servant, but there he is arrested because of the crimes committed by his relations. His wife, Lucie, their young daughter, and her aged father follow him across the Channel, thus putting all their lives in danger.
Christmas Carol, The Chimes & The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
4 stars, 21 reviews
Generations of readers have been enchanted by Dickens s A Christmas Carol the most cheerful ghost story ever written, and the unforgettable tale of Ebenezer Scrooge s moral regeneration. Written in just a few weeks, A Christmas Carol famously recounts the plight of Bob Cratchit, whose family finds joy even in poverty, and the transformation of his miserly boss Scrooge as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.
From Scrooge s Bah! and Humbug! to Tiny Tim s God bless us every one! A Christmas Carol shines with warmth, decency, kindness, humility, and the value of the holidays. But beneath its sentimental surface, A Christmas Carol offers another of Dickens s sharply critical portraits of a brutal society, and an inspiring celebration of the possibility of spiritual, psychological, and social change.
This new volume collects Dickens s three most renowned Christmas Books, including The Chimes, a New Year s tale, and The Cricket on the Hearth, whose eponymous creature remains silent during sorrow and chirps amid happiness.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
4.5 stars, 58 reviews
This fiercely comic tale stands in marked contrast to its genial predecessor, The Pickwick Papers. Set against London’s seedy back street slums, Oliver Twist is the saga of a workhouse orphan captured and thrust into a thieves’ den, where some of Dickens’s most depraved villains preside: the incorrigible Artful Dodger, the murderous bully Sikes, and the terrible Fagin, that treacherous ringleader whose grinning knavery threatens to send them all to the “ghostly gallows.” Yet at the heart of this drama is the orphan Oliver, whose unsullied goodness leads him at last to salvation.
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
4 stars, 48 reviews
Wildly popular, prolific and prophetic, Jules Verne leads his legions of delighted readers on journeys beneath the sea and beyond the stars. Here, the grandfather of modern science fiction takes us to the Earth’s core. The quest begins when irascible but dedicated mineralogy professor Otto Lidenbrock finds a centuries-old parchment inside an even older book.
His nephew Axel decodes it, and discovers instructions on how to get to the center of the Earth: “Go down into the crater of Snaefells Yocul,” an extinct Icelandic volcano. As they descend, the explorers also travel backward to the past, through layers of human history and geologic time, encountering prehistoric plants and animals and ultimately coming to understand the origins of humanity itself.
Count of Monte Cristo (abridged) by Alexandre Dumas
4.5 stars, 114 reviews
The Count of Monte Cristo is the ultimate novel of retribution. Based on a true story, it recounts the story of Edouard Dantès, his betrayal and imprisonment in the sinister Chateau d’If. Years later, Paris is intrigued by the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo, who bursts onto the city’s social scene with his millions. He encounters the three principal betrayers of Dantès who have prospered in the post-Napoleonic boom and, one by one, their lives fall apart. The book was a huge, popular success when it was first serialized in 1844, and remains an unsurpassed tale of revenge.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
4.5 stars, 90 reviews
The first of Dostoevsky’s masterworks, Crime and Punishment presents the powerful story of Raskolnikov, who reasons that intellectually “superior” men like himself can and must transcend conventional moral law. To test his theory, he devises the perfect murder. What follows is a nightmare world of bitterness and torment, and one of the most gripping crime stories of all time.
Aesop’s Fables by Aesop
4 stars, 41 reviews
Aesop’s Fables, whether composed by a single raconteur or a consortium of bards, has enshrined and even branded the name of Aesop for generations of readers. “The firm foundation of common sense, the shrewd shots at uncommon sense, that characterize all the Fables,” wrote G. K. Chesterton, “belong not to him but to humanity.”
As legend has it, the storyteller Aesop was a slave who lived in ancient Greece during the sixth century B.C. His memorable, recountable fables have brought amusing characters to life and driven home thought-provoking morals for generations of listeners and modern-day readers. Translated into countless languages and familiar to people around the world, Aesop’s fables never tarnish despite being told again and again.