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Action/Adventure Books

The Blockade Runners

The Blockade Runners by Jules Verne

The Blockade Runners by Jules Verne

Writing at the end of the American Civil War, Verne weaves this story of a Scottish merchant who, in desperation at the interruption of the flow of Southern cotton due to the Union blockade, determines to build his own fast ship and run guns to the Confederates in exchange for the cotton piling up unsold on their wharves. His simple plan becomes complicated by two passengers who board his new ship under false pretenses in order to carry out a rescue mission, one which Capt. Playfair adopts as his own cause. This is going make the Rebels in Charleston rather unhappy with him.

Sure, his new ship is fast – but can it escape the cannonballs of both North and South?

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Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates

Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates by Howard Pyle

Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates by Howard Pyle

Swashbuckling tales of legendary pirates, buccaneers, and marooners, terrors of the Spanish Main

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Little Wars

Little Wars by H. G. Wells

Little Wars by H. G. Wells

Miniature wargaming got its start with this thoroughly entertaining little account of how H.G. Wells, with certain of his friends, took their childhood toys and turned play into acceptable middle-aged sport by subjecting the exercise to the civilizing influence of actual rules.

While wargaming progressed far past these beginnings, Wells observes how “little wars” with even his elementary rules can suggest the wholesale crudity of the real thing.

“You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realize just what a blundering thing Great War must be. Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion. Not only are the masses of men and material and suffering and inconvenience too monstrously big for reason, but–the available heads we have for it, are too small. That, I think, is the most pacific realization conceivable, and Little War brings you to it as nothing else but Great War can do.”

Wells leaves almost hanging the tantalizing concept that we might someday simulate war, as an instrument of international decision-making, rather than practice actual combat.

But most of this book is just the fun of evicting the boys from the playroom and spending happy days there, away from the “skirt-swishers”, developing the framework under which two gentlemen might meet and accumulate boastable victories!

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The Jewel of Seven Stars

The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

The Jewel of Seven Stars is a horror novel by Bram Stoker. The story is about an archaeologist’s plot to revive Queen Tera, an ancient Egyptian mummy.

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The Land That Time Forgot

The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Land That Time Forgot is a science fiction novel, the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Caspak” trilogy. Starting out as a harrowing wartime sea adventure, the story ultimately develops into that of a fantastical lost world.

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The Pioneers

The Pioneers by James Fenimore Cooper

The Pioneers by James Fenimore Cooper

The Pioneers: The Sources of the Susquehanna; a Descriptive Tale is one of the Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper.
The story takes place on the rapidly advancing frontier of New York State and features a middle-aged Leatherstocking (Natty Bumppo), Judge Marmaduke Temple of Templeton, whose life parallels that of the author’s father Judge William Cooper, and Elizabeth (the author Susan Cooper), of Cooperstown. The story begins with an argument between the Judge and the Leatherstocking over who killed a buck, and as Cooper reviews many of the changes to his fictional Lake Otsego, questions of environmental stewardship, conservation, and use prevail. The plot develops as the Leatherstocking and Chingachgook begin to compete with the Temples for the loyalties of a young visitor, Oliver Effingham. Effingham eventually marries Elizabeth. Chingachgook dies, exemplifying the vexed figure of the “dying Indian,” and Natty vanishes into the sunset. For all its strange twists and turns, ‘The Pioneers’ may be considered one of the first ecological novels in the United States.

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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. It is moreover a moral novel strongly concerned with themes of guilt, shame, redemption and patriotism. With well over 200 million copies sold, it is among the most famous works of fiction.

The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same time period. It follows the lives of several protagonists through these events. The most notable are Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. Darnay is a French once-aristocrat who falls victim to the indiscriminate wrath of the revolution despite his virtuous nature, and Carton is a dissipated British barrister who endeavours to redeem his ill-spent life out of his unrequited love for Darnay’s wife, Lucie Manette.

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Nostromo, a Tale of the Seaboard

Nostromo, a Tale of the Seaboard by Joseph Conrad

Nostromo, a Tale of the Seaboard by Joseph Conrad

Señor Gould is a native Costaguanan of English descent who owns the silver-mining concession in Sulaco. He is tired of the political instability in Costaguana and its concomitant corruption, and puts his weight behind the Ribierist project, which he believes will finally bring stability to the country after years of misrule and tyranny by self-serving dictators. Instead, the silver mine and the wealth it has generated become a magnet for local warlords to fight over, plunging Costaguana into a new round of chaos. Among others, the revolutionary Montero invades Sulaco; Señor Gould, adamant that his silver should not become spoil for his enemies, entrusts it to Nostromo, the trusted “capataz de los cargadores” (head longshoreman).

Nostromo is an Italian expatriate who has risen to that position through his daring exploits. (“Nostromo” is Italian for “mate” or “boatswain”.) He is so named by his employer, Captain Mitchell. “Nostromo’s” real name is Giovanni Battista Fidanza — Fidanza meaning “trust” in archaic Italian.

Nostromo is a shameless self-publicist. He is believed by Señor Gould to be incorruptible, and for this reason is entrusted with hiding the silver from the revolutionaries. He accepts the mission not out of loyalty to Señor Gould, but rather because he sees an opportunity to increase his own fame.

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Phantastes

Phantastes by George MacDonald

Phantastes by George MacDonald

A young man named Anodos experiences dream-like adventures in a distant land, where he meets tree-spirits, endures the presence of the overwhelming shadow, journeys to the palace of the fairy queen, and searches for the spirit of the earth.

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A Journey to the Center of the Earth

A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

Journey to the Center of the Earth is a science fiction novel. The story involves a professor who leads his nephew and hired guide down a volcano in Iceland to the “center of the Earth”. They encounter many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards, eventually coming to the surface again in southern Italy.

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