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Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

If you read this as an adolescent, it’s time to read Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret again. Awkward and inelegant as they may be, sixth-grader Margaret’s questions and quests (to grow bigger breasts, for example, while also seeking out her preferred religion) lead her to greater understanding and self-appreciation—and they’ll most certainly make you cringe as you recall your own experiences and desires to throw off the chains of childhood while budding into young adulthood.

Check out these inspiring quotes from strong women.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
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Ann Patchett’s lyrical words are as captivating as is the music she selects to provide the melodic narrative in her romantic novel Bel Canto. An honest love story, the novel’s characters find themselves in tumult amid a crime and chaotic crisis. The music, as much a character as the humans, provides a backdrop to the drama that is sure to leave every reader on the edge of their seats.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved by Toni Morrison
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Toni Morrison’s Beloved stares down the horrors of slavery and transforms a narrative you think you’ve read a hundred times into a towering story of pain, agony, triumph, and freedom. The story of Sethe, the novel’s protagonist, is gut-wrenchingly honest and simultaneously beautiful and hideous. She wears the worries of past decisions and strives longingly toward freedom, the arch for which her entire life story bends. The suspense wears heavy on the reader, and the choices you must weigh alongside Sethe are haunting.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen by Christopher McDougall
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A simple question—why does my foot hurt?— leads author Christopher McDougall on a globe-trotting quest to sort out the secrets of the world’s greatest distance runners, and hopefully learn a little something for himself in the process. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen is a surprisingly entertaining read thanks to absurdly incredible characters and gritty inspiration gained from true human force.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
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Edwidge Danticat bears witness to the suffering, resilience, and courage of her native Haiti and fellow countrymen in her hauntingly courageous novel Breath, Eyes, Memory. Danticat shares the story of 12-year-old Sophie Caco as she is upended from the only world she’s known in Haiti and sent to a mother she barely remembers in New York. There, young Sophie reveals a life and secrets no child should face. Her journey finds solace and resolution when she’s able to return to Haiti and to the women with which she spent her first years, but the entire odyssey is wrapped in violence, suffering, and an evocative wisdom that comes from a rich ancestry.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
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If all you know of this American literature classic is the colloquial expression about decision-making, pick up Catch-22 for a dark and comedic good read. Yossarian, a member of an Italian bomber crew during World War II, is desperate to excuse himself from the increasingly high number of suicidal missions his commanders force him and his servicemen to fly. The catch comes when he realises the sinister bureaucratic rule, Catch-22, classifies him as insane if he continues the missions but sane—and ineligible for relief—if he requests to be removed from duty.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
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Come for the deliciously tempting confection descriptions, stay for the wildly imaginative world of a wacky genius. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, chocolate maker Willy Wonka captures the attention of the world when he gives five people an all-access pass to his very secretive inner sanctum, as well as a lifetime supply of chocolate. The children are sorted, one by one; the nasty are punished while the good live a sweet life long after their wild ride down a chocolate river.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
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You’re never too old to visit with Charlotte, Wilbur, and Templeton. This heart-warming tale of friendship and dedication follows young Wilbur, a runt of a pig, as he’s spared from one death but subsequently sent to another almost-certain death. Desperate to help the petite porker, Charlotte, a barn spider, hatches a plan that proves genius and life-altering for young Wilbur. Charlotte’s Web is touching and a great read for families.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
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Abraham Verghese weaves multiple lush storylines into an opus of secrets, betrayal, love, and redemption in Cutting for Stone. Marion and Shiva Stone, twin brothers born of a secret union between an Indian nun and a British surgeon, are orphaned at a young age by their mother’s death and father’s disappearance. The two, bound together by blood and bond, ride a journey of trial and test as they leave war-seized Ethiopia for New York City, only to return later to discover their fates and futures are intertwined with their past.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
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Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, a research professor at the University of Houston, throws everything we know about vulnerability and emotional exposure to the wind in this groundbreaking book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. After more than a decade of research, Brown wrote this book to dispel the myth that vulnerability is a weakness. Instead, she argues, it’s one of the most accurate measures of courage and the only path to true experiences.

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