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  * - Beginner; ** - Intermediate;   *** - Difficult

10. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield): ** A parable filled with truths that reads like an adventure-tale, this story begins with the disappearance of an ancient Peruvian manuscript containing the nine insights the human race is predicted to grasp as we enter an era of true spiritual awareness. This New York Times bestseller draws on ancient wisdom to tell you how to make connections among the events that occur in life everyday so that readers can make clearer their perceptions of who they are and the path they are taking.


11. The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R.Tolkien): *** Hobbits and wizards and Sauron--oh, my! Mild-mannered Oxford scholar John Ronald Reuel Tolkien had little inkling when he published The Hobbit; Or, There and Back Again in 1937 that, once hobbits were unleashed upon the world, there would be no turning back. Hobbits are, of course, small, furry creatures who love nothing better than a leisurely life quite free from adventure. But in that first novel and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo and their elfish friends get swept up into a mighty conflict with the dragon Smaug, the dark lord Sauron the monstrous Gollum, the Cracks of Doom, and the awful power of the magical Ring. The four books' characters--good and evil--are recognizably human, and the realism is deepened by the magnificent detail of the vast parallel world Tolkien devised, inspired partly by his influential Anglo-Saxon scholarship and his Christian beliefs.

Not just revolutionary because it was groundbreaking, the Lord of the Rings is timeless because it's the product of a truly top-shelf mind. Tolkien was a distinguished linguist and Oxford scholar of dead languages, with strong ideas about the importance of myth and story and a deep appreciation of nature. His epic, 10 years in the making, recounts the Great War of the Ring and the closing of Middle-Earth's Third Age, a time when magic begins to fade from the world and men rise to dominance. Tolkien carefully details this transition with tremendous skill and love, creating in the Lord of the Rings a universal and all-embracing tale, a justly celebrated classic.


12. Harry Potter - Books 1-7 (J.K. Rowling): * Young wizard-in-training Harry Potter has had his hands full during his first four years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As if studying spells and pleasing professors isn't enough, Harry has heard evil voices in the walls, rescued petrified students, fended off convicts escaped from wizards' prison, and played elaborate and grueling games of Quidditch. Between school sessions, he summers with the horrendous Dursleys, who seem to want nothing more than to crush our hero's spirit. Only time will tell how Harry will manage the certain dangers and escapades in store for him over the next few years.

13. The Sunflower (Simon Wiesenthal): * While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Simon Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying member of the SS. Haunted by the crimes in which he had participated, the soldier wanted to confess to--and obtain absolution from--a Jew. Faced with the choice between compassion and justice, silence and truth, Wiesenthal said nothing. But even years after the way had ended, he wondered: Had he done the right thing? What would you have done in his place?

In this important book, fifty-three distinguished men and women respond to Wiesenthal's questions. They are theologians, political leaders, writers, jurists, psychiatrists, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors, and victims of attempted genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, China and Tibet. Their responses, as varied as their experiences of the world, remind us that Wiesenthal's questions are not limited to events of the past. Often surprising and always thought provoking, The Sunflower will challenge you to define your beliefs about justice, compassion, and human responsibility.

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