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It's a tough call, but I'd have to go with "The Scarlet Letter." I love the way Hawthorne creates wonderful charaters and puts them in incredibly complicated and difficult situations. We watch Hester stand up to cruel (and perhaps hypocritical) civil leaders and grow through the experience; we see Dimmesdale, whose faith is so dependent on his religion and his ministerial role, destroyed by his trangression and his inability to accept himself as anything less than perfect.
And, of course, there's the wonderful language that makes it all happen.
If I had to pick a second, though, it would be anything by Dreiser :)
I will read and reread books. To me they're like old friends you haven't seen in awhile, but all of a sudden you want to visit them. I absolutely love the Stephen King novel The Stand. I probably read it at least every other year. I love the Janet Evanavich series One for the Money and etc. The Orson Scott Card books Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. Jody Piccoult has some great books too, but some of them are just too darn sad.
My favorite books remain Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Sometimes I'm embarrassed-as someone who's studied literature her entire life, and teaches texts that are considered classics in the canon, I've encountered disbelief and even contempt from many who think King's work is below sub-par. Then I remember how deftly he weaves Greek mythology, Sergio Leone westerns, and Arthur legends into a contemporary tale of redemption and identity. And then I stand firmly by my choice. It's an astonishing modern epic.
I LOVE so many books. I can honestly say that I love the Harry Potter series. They are filled with fantasy, mystery, revenge, etc. I find them very playful and fun.
I also like to read books about different world religions. Religion is a driving force in the world and it interests me very much.
I can't choose an all time favorite book. I usually function in "top 5's" or "best book I've read this year."
So - the best book I've read in the past couple of years is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Also on my "Top 5" list: The Brothers K (David James Duncan); Ender's Game (Card); A Prayer for Owen Meanie (Irving)
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