If you think that you know Dracula because you have seen a movie, you need to pretend you have never even heard the name before you start this book. Dracula is the masterful work of Bram Stoker, a true masterpiece that is about much more than just vampires. This book is about facing fears, embracing personal challenges and understanding what compels human nature.
Another piece of literature that is not fictional, Night is the gut-wrenching telling of one man’s experience with the Holocaust. Through the eyes of a survivor readers are given deeper insight into what the horrific experience was like on a variety of levels. One of the most poignant and painful images is of the chanting of the prayer for the dead and how so many were dying that it was impossible to say the prayer for everyone. Night is a horrible, yet beautiful, reminder of what humans are capable of doing to one another and how unimaginable pain can be translated into strength.
3. The Butter Battle Book
Told in conjunction with another story The Sneetches, the Butter Battle Book is about how arbitrary hatred is and how when we really examine ourselves we realize that we are not all that different. The Sneetches wage war over two concepts: whether butter goes on the top or bottom of bread, and whether the Sneetch has a star on his belly or not. As the war progresses the lines begin to blur and the Sneetches have problems remembering why they hated each other. This book was written by the master of children’s writers Dr. Seuss, but speaks to the struggles of adults just as much.
2. The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne came from a painful ancestry that included incredible persecution of Quaker women and participation in the Salem Witch Trials. The beginning of this, his masterpiece, Hawthorne mentions this past and brings the reader back in time to the years of Puritanical control and incredible oppression. This story follows a Puritan woman named Hester Prynne and her relationship with her lover, a man whose identity she refuses to divulge even after giving birth to an illegitimate child and being ostracized from society. As the story progresses Hester learns to turn her trials into triumph, strength and freedom.
1. The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe
The Complete Works, also referred to by great lovers of the dark master of writing as the Corpus, features dozens of stories and poems that cover the years of Poe’s career. Reading these stories is a glimpse of real fear. It is not about blood or startling, but about the worries, fears and torment that lingers in the back of the human mind. These stories and poems also speak of incredible love and longing, exploration of the self and investigation of the world around you.