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By: Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

Common Sense by Thomas Paine Common Sense

First published anonymously due to its seditious content in 1776, the pamphlet argues for the need of American colonists to pursue complete independence from Great Britain, and not be driven simply by the urge to free themselves from unfair taxation. Paine provides argumentation for his revolutionary ideas, suggesting the unification of colonial forces to achieve this goal. Furthermore, Paine strengthens his case by clearly asserting the advantages that would come out as a result of independence, and further fortifies his argumentation with religious references...

By: Willa Cather (1873-1947)

My Antonia by Willa Cather My Antonia

Two young children arrive in a small frontier settlement on the wild and desolate plains of Nebraska, on the same day and by the same train. Jim Burden is a ten year old orphan from Virginia who has come to live with his grandparents, while Antonia Shimerda who's the same age as Jim, arrives with her large, immigrant family from Eastern Europe to try and eke out a living in the New World. The children find themselves thrown together as they live in adjoining farms. Jim tutors Antonia in English and they become good friends as they grow up...

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather O Pioneers!

Published in 1913, O Pioneers! is the first novel in Cather’s Great Plains trilogy and follows the life of its young heroine, Alexandra Bergson, as she fulfills her father’s dying wish to take care of his farm, while also ensuring her brothers are well looked after. Entrusted with a great responsibility, Alexandra is determined to fulfill her father’s wish, as she goes on to prove her skills as a thriving farmer even though the task comes with a hefty price on her happiness. In addition, the...

One of Ours by Willa Cather One of Ours

This 1923 Pulitzer Prize winning novel was written by Willa Cather. This work had been inspired by reading her cousin G.P. Cather’s wartime letters home to his mother. He was the first officer from Nebraska killed in World War I. Claude Wheeler, the subject of the novel, is a young man growing up on a Nebraska farm. The son of well to do parents, Claude is troubled by his apparent inability to find purpose with his life. Everything he does seems to turn out wrong, at least in his own mind. Although he is a skilled farmer, Claude believes his destiny lies elsewhere...

By: Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832-1899)

Adrift in New York by Horatio Alger, Jr. Adrift in New York

Set in 19th century New York, this is the story of a wealthy old man who adopts his orphaned nephew and niece after his own four year old son mysteriously disappears. However, under a smooth exterior, the nephew is a conniving and avaricious villain who wants to grab all the old man's wealth for himself. This is also the story of a young boy, who doesn't know he's the sole heir to a fabulous fortune, but grows up homeless in the streets of New York. The villainous nephew proposes marriage to his cousin with a view to grabbing the entire inheritance...

Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger, Jr. Ragged Dick

A fourteen year old homeless boy, Dick, tries to make an honest living in the streets of 1860s New York as a bootblack. He is determined to stay honorable, though he is tempted many times to easy pickings and a life of crime. When a regular customer is impressed by Dick's integrity and invites him to his mansion, this marks a turning point in the life of the young street-smart teenager. Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger Jr was first published in 1868. It represents a typical coming of age story in which a child attains the maturity of adulthood through circumstances in which important choices are made...

Fame and Fortune by Horatio Alger, Jr. Fame and Fortune

Richard Hunter, in this sequel to Ragged Dick, continues his way in the world through hard work and excellent morals. He, along with his friend Henry, continue their positive outlook as they try to advance their lives. But Dick soon finds envy and jealousy leads others to work against him. How will Dick react as he tries to strive forward while others conspire to hold him down? (Written by Barry Eads)

By: Hermann Hesse (1877-1962)

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse Siddhartha

Once regarded as a cult book in the 1960s by the Flower Power generation, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse remains even today a simple and fresh tale of a man's spiritual quest. Penned by a deeply spiritual German author, Siddhartha explores multiple themes of enlightenment, thinking beyond set rules, love and humanity. Siddhartha is a young contemporary of the spiritual master Gautam Buddha who lived in India at some time during the 4th century BC. The story has striking parallels to Buddha's own life story in which he abandons his wealth and status as the young prince of Kapilavastu, his wife and young son and his family to embark on a voyage of self discovery...

By: John Buchan (1875-1940)

The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan The Thirty-nine Steps

The typical action hero with a stiff upper lip whose actions speak louder than his words, a mysterious American who lives in dread of being killed, an anarchist plot to destabilize Greece, a deadly German spy network, a notebook entirely written in code, and all this set in the weeks preceding the outbreak of World War I. The Thirty-nine Steps, by John Buchan is a spy classic entirely worthy of its genre and will delight modern day readers with its complicated plot. It is also notable for being the literary progenitor of the spook novel that typically features the secret operative on the run, determined to unravel a world domination plot...

Greenmantle by John Buchan Greenmantle

Greenmantle is the second of five Richard Hannay novels by John Buchan, first published in 1916 by Hodder & Stoughton, London. It is one of two Hannay novels set during the First World War, the other being Mr Standfast (1919); Hannay’s first and best-known adventure, The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915), is set in the period immediately before the war started. – Hannay is called in to investigate rumours of an uprising in the Muslim world, and undertakes a perilous journey through enemy territory to meet up with his friend Sandy in Constantinople. Once there, he and his friends must thwart the Germans’ plans to use religion to help them win the war, climaxing at the battle of Erzurum.

Prester John by John Buchan Prester John

This classic adventure novel by the author of Greenmantle and The Thirty-Nine Steps relates the first-person exploits of young David Crawfurd before the age of twenty.

By: H. R. Schoolcraft (1793-1864)

American Indian Fairy Tales by H. R. Schoolcraft American Indian Fairy Tales

This book features a series of short stories collected by renowned ethnologist Henry R. Schoolcraft. The stories are adapted from old Native American legends with the aim to protect their authenticity from future contamination. Schoolcraft made it his duty to learn the Native American folklore, after living among them in the Great Lakes region and experiencing their culture firsthand. The allegorical collection include tales of adventure, whilst offering exciting explanations for natural phenomena as perceived by members of the tribe and their ancestors, who have passed down the tales from one generation to the next...

By: Guy Wetmore Carryl (1873-1904)

Fables for the Frivolous by Guy Wetmore Carryl Fables for the Frivolous

The Urban Rat and the Suburban Rat, The Persevering Tortoise and the Pretentious Hare, The Ambitious Fox and the Unapproachable Grapes.... If some of these titles seem vaguely familiar to you, you wouldn't be mistaken! Fables for the Frivolous by Guy Wetmore Carryl contains some well-known fables in a modern packaging, with a delightful new twist! The complete title of the original published in 1898 was Fables for the Frivolous (With apologies to La Fontaine) and it was the first published work of this gifted American journalist, humorist and poet...

Grimm Tales Made Gay by Guy Wetmore Carryl Grimm Tales Made Gay

A comic rendering in verse of well-loved Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, each ending with a moral and full of puns. The titles of the tales themselves make another verse.

By: Montague R. James (1862-1936)

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by Montague R. James Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

An English tourist in a small, rural town in the South of France discovers an ancient manuscript with a strange illustration on the last page. A young orphan is sent to live with his elderly cousin, a secretive man who is obsessed with immortality. A picture that tells stories that change according to who is viewing it. These and other delicious, goose bump evoking tales are part of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by Montague R James. A master of his craft, MR James was an academic and administrator of King's College, Cambridge and later of Eton...

The Five Jars by Montague R. James The Five Jars

The Five Jars is the only novel written by James, who is best known for his ghost stories. It is a peculiarly surreal fantasy apparently written for children. While he is out walking, the narrator is drawn to a remote pool, and finds a small box that has been hidden since Roman times. He gradually learns how to use its contents, fighting off a series of attempts to steal it, and becomes aware of a strange world hidden from our own.

By: Saki (1870-1916)

Reginald by Saki Reginald

Saki was the pen name of the British author Hector Hugh Munro (1870 – 1916). His witty, biting and occasionally odd short stories satirised Edwardian culture. Saki is considered a master of the short story and has been compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker as well as Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde (who clearly influenced Saki). His first collection of short stories, Reginald, was published by Methuen Press in 1904 though these stories first appeared in the ‘Westminster Gazette’. The stories...

The Chronicles of Clovis by Saki The Chronicles of Clovis

This is the third collection of short stories by Saki, following on from “Reginald” and “Reginald in Russia”. Although some of the stories have characters that do not appear elsewhere in the collection, many of them are loosely centred round the young Clovis Sangrail (effectively a reincarnation of Reginald).

Beasts and Super-Beasts by Saki Beasts and Super-Beasts

Saki (December 18, 1870 – November 14, 1916) was the pen name of British author Hector Hugh Munro. Saki’s world contrasts the effete conventions and hypocrisies of Edwardian England with the ruthless but straightforward life-and-death struggles of nature. Nature generally wins in the end.

When William Came by Saki When William Came

We have had many novels about alternate histories, often of the ‘What would have happened if Hitler had won the war’ type and this is another – except that this one is set in 1913 and the ‘William’ of the title is that old bogeyman ‘Kaiser Bill’. For some reason, at the height of Britain’s power, the fear of invasion was common at that time. (See ‘The Riddle of the Sands’, ‘The Battle of Dorking’, ‘Spies of the Kaiser’ or even ‘The War of the Worlds’)WARNING:- Contains mild anti-semitism and jingoism typical of the period

By: Patrick Henry (1736-1799)

The Anti-Federalist Papers by Patrick Henry The Anti-Federalist Papers

During the period of debate over the ratification of the Constitution, numerous independent local speeches and articles were published all across the country. Initially, many of the articles in opposition were written under pseudonyms, such as “Brutus”, “Centinel”, and “Federal Farmer”. Eventually, famous revolutionary figures such as Patrick Henry came out publicly against the Constitution. They argued that the strong national government proposed by the Federalists was a threat to the rights of individuals and that the President would become a king...

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death by Patrick Henry Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

This speech was given March 23, 1775, at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, and is credited with having singlehandedly convinced the Virginia House of Burgesses to pass a resolution delivering the Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War. In attendance were Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Reportedly, the crowd, upon hearing the speech, jumped up and shouted, “To Arms! To Arms!”

By: Robert W. Service (1874-1958)

Selections from Ballads of a Cheechako by Robert W. Service Selections from Ballads of a Cheechako

These twelve poems are from Ballads of a Cheechako which was Robert W. Service’s third book of Yukon poems, published in 1909. The word Cheechako, from Chinook Jargon, originated in the United States (Alaska) and Canada (Yukon) and was imported into local English during the Yukon gold rush that began in 1896. Cheechako, is a non derogatory word meaning “newcomer” or “tenderfoot.” The derivation looks something like this: chee new cha come ko home.

Book cover Ottawa Folk Festival Robert Service Collection

The Spell of the Yukon by Robert Service with patrons, musicians and organizers. Robert Service is an iconic Canadian poet.

By: Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951)

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis Main Street

A social satire, Main Street became a best-seller soon after its publication, fascinating readers with its biting humor and realistic portrayal of small-town communities. Published in 1920, the novel follows Carol Milford as she moves to a conventional small town, where she encounters its conceited residents characterized by their ignorance, hypocrisy, and smugness, while simultaneously being the target of their careless ridicule. Furthermore, the novel efficiently exemplifies the dividing line between the sophisticated urban setting and the conventionally governed small-town, as it tackles issues of embracing differences, social class, disillusionment, feminism, and community...

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis Babbitt

Free Air by Sinclair Lewis Free Air

This road trip novel is set in the early twentieth century and follows the experiences of an aristocratic New Englander and her father as they travel by automobile from Minneapolis to Seattle. She is wooed and won by a noble but simple commoner she meets along the way. Lewis is at his usual wryly humorous self, poking fun at the upper class and treating the common people only slightly better.

The Trail of the Hawk by Sinclair Lewis The Trail of the Hawk

The Innocents, A Story for Lovers by Sinclair Lewis The Innocents, A Story for Lovers

“Mr. and Mrs. Seth Appleby were almost old. They called each other 'Father' and 'Mother.' But frequently they were guilty of holding hands, or of cuddling together in corners, and Father was a person of stubborn youthfulness.” It is only by subterfuge that Seth is able every year to obtain his two week's vacation from the shoe store, and they are off to the farm-house of Uncle Joe Tubbs on Cape Cod. But this year the vacation turns into a full blown scheme to open a country tea room somewhere on Cape Cod, and their life suddenly begins to change. . . . (Introduction by Don W. Jenkins)

Our Mr. Wrenn, the Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man by Sinclair Lewis Our Mr. Wrenn, the Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man

"At thirty-four Mr. Wrenn was the sales-entry clerk of the Souvenir Company. He was always bending over bills and columns of figures at a desk behind the stock-room. He was a meek little bachelor--a person of inconspicuous blue ready-made suits, and a small unsuccessful mustache." Mr. Wrenn, however has a rich inner life embellished by his own imagination. When he comes into a modest inheritance, he feels he ought to learn to get out and wander a bit, and then his education begins. He finds life more "interesting", perhaps than he had "imagined". . . (Introduction by Don Jenkins)

The Job by Sinclair Lewis The Job

‘The Job’ is an early work by American novelist Sinclair Lewis. It is considered an early declaration of the rights of working women. The focus is on the main character, Una Golden, who desires to establish herself in a legitimate occupation while balancing the eventual need for marriage. The story takes place in the early 1900-1920’s and takes Una from a small Pennsylvania town to New York. Forced to work due to family illness, Una shows a talent for the traditional male bastion of commercial real estate and, while valued by her company, she struggles to achieve the same status of her male coworkers...

By: Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley The Water-Babies

First published in 1863, The Water Babies by Rev Charles Kingsley became a Victorian children's classic along with J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Lewis Caroll's Alice books. It is an endearing and entertaining novel that can equally be enjoyed by adult readers as well. However, it fell out of favor in later years since it contained many ideas that are considered politically incorrect and offensive today from a humanitarian perspective. The Water Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby to give the book its complete title tells the story of Tom, a young orphan chimney-sweep in Victorian London...


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