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The Stories That Last: A Must-Read Reading List

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

Ask any reader or book lover and they'll agree; there are books that you read just to pass the time, and then there are books that you read that change your mindset. Some of these books can still be found on many high school reading lists today, but many of these classic, moving novels have started to fall through the cracks. If you keep a list of the books that are "must-reads" in this lifetime, here are 5 classic add-ons.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald has to be at the top of the list, as it is on many others. A classic set in the Roaring 20's right here on Long Island; Gatsby is about love and loss, an observation of wealth and the happiness it truly cannot bring, and desire that when quenched is not all that it promised to be. A perfect short read for the beach or poolside, The Great Gatsby is one high school read that should certainly be revisited, that's if you've have the pleasure of reading it at all!

Another long forgotten (and much dreaded) high school read was John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Taking place during the Great Depression, this story follows tenant farms from Oklahoma as they try to survive through the hardships of the time and climate, before making their way west to California in hopes of a better life. This is a literary favorite for high school and college literature courses nationwide due to its historical context and infamy. It is a must read at least once in your lifetime for the same reasons; although it is not an easy read, the journey is well worth the reward.

Catch 22 by Joseph Hellar is a black humor novel of historical fictions. It depicts the literal "catch 22" of a fictional platoon of airmen stationed on a Mediterranean Island during WWII doing whatever is necessary to maintain their sanity, carry out their orders, and return home alive. This novel, though fictional, provides a dark glimpse into the psyche and strife of our soldiers of the time and, to some extent, today. Although this may be too heavy for your typical weekend read, Catch 22 is one of those experiences that one should have to help keep the light of inexperience at bay.

Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is yet another literary "experience" that one should not be lost. Set in an Oregon psychiatric facility, this story provides a glimpse into the mental health care system of the time (1962), as well as a glimpse inside the human mind.

Finally, and on what may seem as a lighter note, I would suggest a final "must read" for your booklist goals: Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind. A story of love and war, this historical novel is set in Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction. A classic long respected for its vivid imagery and readability, Gone With The Wind offers a taste of the struggle, anger and fear that came with living in the South during the time period. If you are a lover of the classic film, the novel is sure to not disappoint you!

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