"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Samuel "Mark Twain' Clemens
Huck and Jim's drifting journey down the Mississippi River on a raft is recounted in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Samuel Langhorne Clemens. It's worth reading several times--not because it's a classic, but because it's fun!
-- Gary Barton
"As I lay Dying" by William Faulkner
This is my favorite of Faulkner's books, possibly because of the way it was presented in an Albany Junior (now Darton) College English class by the late Billy Bragg. Written by Faulkner in six weeks while he worked at a power plant, each character feels realistic, allowing you to be immersed in this tale of man's struggles against nature -- and his own nature as well -- as a family tries valiantly to give their mother a proper burial in Mississippi.
-- Jim Hendricks
"Beezus and Ramona" by Beverly Cleary
Beezus, aged 8, tries to be patient with, to like, and to love her 4-year-old sister, Ramona, but it is very difficult at times. Cleary has written a funny and warm portrayal of family life with a very imaginative, mischievous little sister. NOTE: This title is written for independent readers in 3rd grade and older, but would appeal to younger children as a read-aloud.
-- Karen M. Liebert
"Confederate Athens" by Kenneth Coleman
I would recommend Kenneth Coleman's 2009 reprint of his 1967 "Confederate Athens" classic. Kenneth Coleman was a history professor, specializing in early American and Georgia history at the University of Georgia in Athens. He also wrote the widely read history of the state, "Georgia History in Outline." "Confederate Athens" is about Athens during the four years of the Civil War. He examined what life was like for the 4,000 Athenians from social, political and economic aspects of the town.
-- David Fry
"East of Eden" by John Steinbeck
While in my senior year of high school, I had an English lit teacher who was particularly fond of Steinbeck's novels, and this particular book was required reading. I read it then because I had to but have since read it for the pure pleasure of a well-written and captivating story. As I think again about this story that shares the lives of two families across three generations, spanning from the Civil War to World War II, I think I just might read it for a third time.
-- Mary Braswell
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
There's a reason F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" is considered one of the best novels of the twentieth century.
-- Gary Barton
"Romeo and Juliet" (and other works) by William Shakespeare
Most of us were "forced" to read the Bard's works in high school and college, and we all know how much we appreciate literature we read under such duress. Reread Shakespeare's classic works ("R&J" and "Hamlet" are my favorites) at your leisure and see how much better they are than you remembered. You may find yourself finally understanding what all those Lit teachers were talking about.
-- Carlton Fletcher
"Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut
Eons ago as an undergraduate, I first read Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five, or the Children's Crusade" for a book talk for an Adolescent Literature class. I became and remain a fan of the author, rereading my favorites from time to time. As one from the "greatest generation", Vonnegut mixed his experiences in World War II with science fiction to create a great American Novel.
-- Gloria Barton
"Swann's Way" by Marcel Proust (Moncrieff translation)
I was daunted in college by the reputation of this, the first part of Proust's seven-volume novel "Remembrance of Things Past." Years later, though, I went ahead and gave it a try, and I admit it is like nothing else I've ever read. Yes, a sentence can go on for a whole page, but it's done so well that you don't get lost. Yes, there's not a great deal of action going on external to the narrator, but most of life occurs between our ears anyway. You're unlikely to forget this book.
-- Bill Strickland
"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
This 1960 Pulitzer Prize winner is one of the few books I've read that continues to resonate with me no matter what period of my life I read it. The basic concept of right versus wrong, overlaying the complexities of discrimination and hate in the old South and the hope that there are men out there like Atticus Finch are all reasons this is a timeless classic. Hey, its the reason I named my first dog Atticus.
-- J.D. Sumner
"Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain
My choice for this would probably be Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. When I read this book as a young boy, I couldn't wait to finish my chores or school, whatever was preventing me from reading this adventurous book.
-- Jim Soos