Normal Public Library Teens

Classics

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society. (M, S)

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Set in New England during the Civil War, this classic novel follows the adventures of the March sisters – beautiful Meg, tomboy Jo, shy, sensitive Beth, and romantic Amy – as they struggle to pursue their dreams.  (M, S)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ Thus memorably begins Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, one of the world’s most popular novels, which tells the story of fiercely independent Elizabeth Bennet, one of five sisters who must marry rich, as she confounds the arrogant, wealthy Mr. Darcy.  (A/YA)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

After a wretched childhood, orphaned Jane Eyre yearns for new experiences. She accepts a governess position at Thornfield Hall, where she tutors a lively French girl named Adele and soon finds herself falling in love with the brooding master of the house – the passionate Mr. Rochester. But when Jane saves Rochester from an eerie fire she begins to suspect that there are many mysteries behind the walls of Thornfield Hall.  (A/YA)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Emily Brontë’s only novel, Wuthering Heights remains one of literature’s most disturbing explorations into the dark side of romantic passion. Heathcliff and Cathy believe they’re destined to love each other forever, but when cruelty and snobbery separate them, their untamed emotions literally consume them.  (A/YA)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Alice begins her adventures when she follows the frantically delayed White Rabbit down a hole into the magical world of Wonderland, where she meets a variety of wonderful creatures, including Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Cheshire Cat, the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts — who, with the help of her enchanted deck of playing cards, tricks Alice into playing a bizarre game of croquet.  (M, S)

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Full of intrigue, swordplay, and revenge, this is the story of d’Artagnan, a young nobleman who travels to Paris in hopes of joining the Musketeers, a group of swashbuckling adventurers who serve King Louis XIII. His wit and fighting ability make d’Artagnan a welcome addition to their ranks, and together the four young men work to foil the King’s evil rival, Cardinal Richelieu.  (A/YA)

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Set in late World War II, this hilarious and disturbing novel follows the adventures of Air Force Captain Yossarian, in a satirical look at war and the military establishment. (A/YA)

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Fourteen-year-old Ponyboy, his brothers, and his friends are poor outcasts – “greasers.” They have little but always stick together. After they’re victims of the town’s “socs” (socials) – kids with lots of money, tough cars, and chips on their shoulders – everyone comes to realize how deep and serious their divide is. (M, S)

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

In Huxley’s dark vision of a future society, everyone consumes daily grams of soma to fight depression, babies come from laboratory test tubes, and the most popular form of entertainment is a “Feelie,” a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow.  (A/YA)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus – three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman.  (A/YA)

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

When loyal dog Buck is stolen from his comfortable family home, he soon finds himself forced into the harsh life of an Alaskan sled dog. Passed from master to master, Buck embarks on an extraordinary journey that ends with his becoming the legendary leader of a wolf pack.  (A/YA)

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

When Marilla Cuthbert’s brother, Matthew, returns home to Green Gables with a chatty redheaded orphan girl, Marilla exclaims, “But we asked for a boy. We have no use for a girl.” It’s not long, though, before the Cuthberts can’t imagine how they could ever do without young Anne of Green Gables–but not for the original reasons they sought an orphan.   (M, S)

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This autobiographical novel tells the story of a gifted young woman’s mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. (A/YA)

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. (A/YA)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
 

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the secret of life, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts, but upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein. (A/YA)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Francie Nolan, avid reader and observer of human nature, is growing up in Brooklyn in 1912, with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt who gives her love too freely – to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Francie learns early the meaning of hunger and the value of a penny. Like the city trees that grow out of cement or through cellar gratings, resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive.  (A/YA)

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain wants to become a writer. Her family – beautiful sister Rose, father James, a washed-up writer, and ethereal stepmother Topaz – is barely scraping by in a crumbling English castle they leased when times were good. Now there’s very little furniture, hardly any food, and just a few pages of notebook paper left to write on. But romantic isolation comes to an end both for the family and for Cassandra’s heart when the wealthy, adventurous Cotton family takes over the nearby estate.  (A/YA)

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

David Balfour, a young Scotsman orphaned by the death of his father, is betrayed by his uncle, shanghaied, and carried to the New World for a life in bondage – until a swashbuckling highlander, Alan Breck Stewart, comes to his rescue. Balfour escapes to the Highlands with the help of his friend but encounters further danger and intrigue as he tries to clear his name and regain his rightful property.  (A/YA)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Climb aboard for the swashbuckling adventure of a lifetime. Treasure Island has enthralled (and caused slight seasickness) for decades, and the names Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins are destined to live forever as pieces of folklore. With its dastardly plot and motley crew of pirates, rogues and villains, it’s impossible to say no to this timeless classic.  (A/YA)

Dracula by Bram Stoker

An apparently routine business venture becomes a battle for a young man’s very soul. Almost too late, Jonathan Harker realizes that the charismatic and seductive Count Dracula of Transylvania has come to England with a purpose much more sinister than merely to purchase an English estate. Will the Count succeed in his quest to create a race of blood-lusting creatures of the night?  (A/YA)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s brilliant 19th-century novel has long been recognized as one of the finest examples of American literature. It brings back the irrepressible and free-spirited Huck, first introduced in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and puts him center stage. Rich in authentic dialect, folksy humor, and sharp social commentary, Twain’s classic tale follows Huck and the runaway slave Jim on an exciting journey down the Mississippi.  (A/YA)

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden. (A/YA)

 
 

Grade Level Interest
M Middle School (defined as grades 6-8).
S Senior High (defined as grades 9-12).
A/YA Adult-marketed book recommended for teens.

 
 
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