Recommended Books by Academy of Achievement

"Discover which books made a difference in the early lives of the most eminent achievers of our times."

  1. The Republic by Plato

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    The Republic is a Socratic dialogue by Plato, written c. 380 B.C.E.. It is one of the most influential works of philosophy and political theory, and Plato's best known work. In Plato's fictional di...


  2. The Bible by Christian Church

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    The Authorized King James Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible begun in 1604 and completed in 1611 by the Church of England. Printed by the King's Printer, Robert Barker, the fi...


  3. One Thousand and One Nights by India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt

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    One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Ni...


  4. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (originally The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere) is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and published in 1798 in the ...


  5. Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac

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    Illusions perdues was written by the French writer Honoré de Balzac between 1837 and 1843. It consists of three parts, starting in the provinces, thereafter moving to Paris, and finally returning t...

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  6. The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

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    At the heart of Charles Dickens's second novel, first published in 1838, is a story as much about crime and poverty as it is about justice and charity. Orphaned at birth, Oliver Twist grows up unde...

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  7. Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau


  8. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

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    The story of the abandoned waif who learns to survive through challenging encounters with distress and misfortune.


  9. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

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    First published in 1851, Melville's masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick's words, "the greatest novel in American literature." The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white wh...


  10. Walden by Henry David Thoreau

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    Walden (first published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) is an American book written by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings.


  11. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

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    Leaves of Grass (1855) is a poetry collection by the American poet Walt Whitman. Among the poems in the collection are "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Roc...


  12. The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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    The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring a Native American hero. Longfellow's sources for the legends and ethnography found in his...

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  13. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

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    Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published on Thursday 24 November 1859, is a seminal work of scientific literature considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its full title...


  14. The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade

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    The Cloister and the Hearth (1861) is an historical novel by the English author Charles Reade. Set in the 15th century, it relates the story revolving about the travels of a young scribe and illumi...

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  15. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

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    Fathers and Sons is an 1862 novel by Ivan Turgenev, his best known work. The fathers and children of the novel refers to the growing divide between the two generations of Russians, and the chara...


  16. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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    It is a murder story, told from a murder;s point of view, that implicates even the most innocent reader in its enormities. It is a cat-and-mouse game between a tormented young killer and a cheerful...


  17. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

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    Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (French: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) is a classic science fiction novel by French writer Jules Verne published in 1870. It tells the story of Captain Nem...


  18. Roughing It by Mark Twain

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    Roughing It is a book of semi-autobiographical travel literature written by American humorist Mark Twain. It was written during 1870–71 and published in 1872 as a prequel to his first book Innocent...


  19. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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    Revered by all of the town's children and dreaded by all of its mothers, Huckleberry Finn is indisputably the most appealing child-hero in American literature. Unlike the tall-tale, idyllic worl...


  20. War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

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    When four Martian space ships land in England, masses of people flee the cities, driven by an overwhelming fear of the alien creatures devastating weapons of death and destruction. Excellently adap...


  21. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

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    The story chronicles the adventures of a girl named Dorothy in the Land of Oz. Thanks in part to the 1939 MGM movie, it is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been wid...


  22. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

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    1906 best-seller shockingly reveals intolerable labor practices and unsanitary working conditions in the Chicago stockyards as it tells the brutally grim story of a Slavic family that emigrates to ...


  23. The Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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    John Carter discovers that a First Born knows the secret of the Temple of the Sun and he and the Holy Hekkador Matai Shang want to rescue the Holy Thern's daughter, who is imprisoned with Dejah Tho...

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  24. The Scarlet Plague by Jack London

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    Jack London's post-apocalyptic vision takes place in 2072, sixty years after an uncontrollable epidemic has depopulated the planet. James Howard Smith, one of the few left alive San Francisco area,...

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  25. Relativity by Albert Einstein

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    In clear, concise language that is accessible to all, Albert Einstein's brilliant theory is explained and its implications discussed.


  26. The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot

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    The Waste Land is a 434 line modernist poem by T. S. Eliot published in 1922. It has been called "one of the most important poems of the 20th century." Despite the alleged obscurity of the poem – i...


  27. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

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    Doctor Dolittle heads for the high seas in perhaps the most amazing adventure ever experienced by man or animal. Told by nine-and-a-half-year-old Tommy Stubbins, crewman and future naturalist, the ...

    - Google

  28. Galapagos: World's End by William Beebe

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    More than 100 splendid illustrations enhance this fascinating firsthand account of a 1923 expedition to survey the wildlife of the Galápagos Islands. Beebe, a renowned biologist and explorer, combi...

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  29. Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis

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    Arrowsmith tells the story of bright and scientifically-minded Martin Arrowsmith as he makes his way from a small town in the Midwest to the upper echelons of the scientific community. (He is born ...


  30. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    The novel chronicles an era that Fitzgerald himself dubbed the "Jazz Age". Following the shock and chaos of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the "roar...


  31. Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif

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    In this classic bestseller, Paul de Kruif dramatizes the pioneering bacteriological work of such scientists as Leeuwenhoek, Spallanzani, Koch, Pasteur, Reed, and Ehrlich. This seventieth anniversar...

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  32. Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James

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    The experiences of a mouse-colored horse from his birth in the wild, through his capture by humans and his work in the rodeo and on the range, to his eventual old age.

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  33. The Island Within by Ludwig Lewisohn

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    The story of Reb Mendel and his descendents as they struggle with being Jewish and finding their place as new immigrants in a sometimes hostile United States.

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  34. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

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    The Sound and the Fury is set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. The novel centers on the Compson family, former Southern aristocrats who are struggling to deal with the dissolution of their fa...


  35. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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    The novel is told through the point of view of Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian army during World War I.


  36. The Little Engine that Could by Platt & Munk

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    When the other engines refuse, the Little Blue Engine tries to pull a stranded train full of toys and good food over the mountain.

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  37. R. E. Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman

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    Autobiography of Robert E. Lee.

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  38. Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell

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    'Studs Lonigan, ' the story of an Irish-American youth growing to adulthood in Chicago, is considered by many to be one of the finest American novels from the first half of the twentieth century, a...


  39. Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

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    Ferdinand likes to sit quietly and smell the flowers, but one day he gets stung by a bee and his snorting and stomping convince everyone that he is the fiercest of bulls.

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  40. Miss Susie Slagle's by Augusta Tucker

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    Tells the story of a group of young medical students living at Susie Slagle's boarding house in Baltimore at the turn of the century.

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  41. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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    Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a ...


  42. My Name Is Aram by William Saroyan

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    "Marvelously captivating." — The New York Times. First published in 1940, Saroyan's international bestseller recounts the exploits of an Armenian clan in northern California at the turn of the 20th...

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  43. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee

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    Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a book with text by American writer James Agee and photographs by American photographer Walker Evans first published in 1941 in the United States. The title is from ...


  44. Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm

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    Erich Fromm’s bestselling 1941 debut, about freedom and authoritarianism, is as relevant today as when it was first published The pursuit of freedom has indelibly marked Western culture since Renai...

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  45. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

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    Mere Christianity is a theological book by C. S. Lewis, adapted from a series of BBC radio talks made between 1941 and 1944, while Lewis was at Oxford during World War II. Considered a classic of C...


  46. The Little Grey Men by B B

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    The last four gnomes in Britain live by a Warwickshire brook. But when one of them decides to go and explore and doesn't return, it's up to the remaining three to build a boat and set out to find h...

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  47. The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck

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    Originally published at the zenith of Nazi Germany's power, Steinbeck's fable THE MOON IS DOWN explores the effects of invasion on both the conquered and the conquerors. Occupied by enemy troops, a...

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  48. Reveille in Washington by Margaret Leech

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    Margaret Kernochan Leech (November 7, 1893 – February 24, 1974) also known as Margaret Pulitzer, was an American author and historian, who won two Pulitzer Prizes in history, for her books Reveille...


  49. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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    The American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended ...

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  50. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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    The Catcher in the Rye is a 1945 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, the novel has become a common part of high school and college curricula throughout the English-speaking wo...


  51. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

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    All the King's Men portrays the dramatic political ascent and governorship of Willie Stark, a driven, cynical populist in the American South during the 1930s.


  52. One Two Three . . . Infinity: Facts and Speculations of Science by George Gamow

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    Over 120 delightful pen-and-ink illustrations by the author add another dimension of good-natured charm to these wide-ranging explorations. A mind-expanding volume for the layman and the science-mi...

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  53. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

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    The Pulitzer Prize and Drama Critics Circle Award winning play—reissued with an introduction by Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman and The Crucible), and Williams' essay "The World I Live In." It i...

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  54. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

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    The story follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of perpetuating the regime's propaganda by falsifying records and political literatur...


  55. Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars by Ellen Macgregor


  56. The Reason Why by Cecil Woodham-Smith

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    Examines a part of the action of the Battle of Balaclava, one of the earlier and most important battles of the Crimean War.

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  57. Edmund Dulac's Fairy-Book by Edmund Dulac

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    Edmund Dulac (born Edmond Dulac; October 22, 1882 – May 25, 1953) was a French-born, British naturalised magazine illustrator, book illustrator and stamp designer. Born in Toulouse he studied law b...

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  58. Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy


  59. Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox (1882–1940) by James MacGregor Burns

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    This first of Burns’s definitive and award-winning two-volume biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, mapping the personal and professional development of one of America’s most brilliant politician...

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  60. A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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    It would be inconceivable for an American author to write a coming-of-age novel in a comedic vein without reckoning with J.D. Salinger's A Catcher in the Rye; and it would be equally impossible to ...


  61. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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    As a Southern Gothic novel and a Bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses is...


  62. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

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    The Moviegoer tells the story of Binx Bolling, a young stockbroker in post-war New Orleans. The decline of Southern traditions, the problems of his family and his traumatic experiences in the Korea...


  63. A Study of History by Arnold J. Toynbee

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    A Study of History is the 12-volume magnum opus of British historian Arnold J. Toynbee, finished in 1961. In this immensely detailed and complex work, Toynbee traces the birth, growth and decay of ...


  64. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

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    A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy novel by Madeleine L'Engle, first published in 1962. The book won a Newbery Medal, Sequoyah Book Award, and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was runner-up for t...


  65. The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War by Samuel Eliot Morison

    Image of The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War

    Originally published in 1963, this classic, single-volume history draws on Morison's definitive 15-volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II,/I. More than a condensation, The...

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  66. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley

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    This book describes Malcolm X's upbringing in Michigan, his maturation to adulthood in Boston and New York, his time in prison, his conversion to Islam, his ministry, his travels to Africa and to M...


  67. Napoleon by Vincent Cronin

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    "Vincent Cronin superbly realises his objective in this, probably the finest of all modern biographies of Napoleon. It is generally regarded as this author's masterpiece"--Back cover.

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  68. The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka by Franz Kafka

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    The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka is a compilation of all Kafka's short stories. With the exception of Kafka's three novels (The Trial, The Castle and Amerika), this collection includes all of Ka...


  69. The Name Above the Title: An Autobiography by Frank Capra

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    Although Frank Capra (1897–1991) is best known as the director of It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It with You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Arsenic and Old Lace, and ...

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  70. Future Shock: The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler

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    Explores the nature and implications of a third wave of change that is now creating a new civilization with its own life-styles, jobs, sexual attitudes, concepts of family and love, economic struct...

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  71. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

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    Hiro Protagonist—yeah, that's his name—is a freelance hacker and unemployed pizza deliveryman lost in a post-lapsarian, hyper-capitalist future America in which the central government has withered ...

    - Time

  72. Forever: A Novel by Pete Hamill

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    This widely acclaimed bestseller is the magical, epic tale of an extraordinary man who arrives in New York in 1740 and remains ... forever. Through the eyes of Cormac O'Connor - granted immortality...

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