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10 Pieces of 20th Century American Literature & Short Stories Everyone Should Read

I decided to write this post to showcase certain stories, from 20th century american literature classes I’ve taken throughout the years, that I actually appreciated. I have read almost all of these stories entirely and some I unfortunately had to cut short due to due dates for projects. Teachers make you read too much in a single time span for class that it tends to ruin the reading experience for classics in my opinion.

10. A Good Man Is Hard To Find, The Life You Save May Be Your Own, & Good Country People by Flannery O’Connor (Short Stories)

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I personally selected the three short stories from this collection that I believe have the deepest meaning. These stories mainly revolve around the questioning of religion and religious archetypes, but also add a very interesting twist of defying social norms. You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

9. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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Books are one of the most powerful objects in the world, so what would happen if they were ban and illegal?

8. A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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Crazy story that I believe somewhat inspired The Dead Poet Society. A coming of age story with a very surprising twist. You can purchase the book for yourself from Amazon here.

7. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (Short Story)

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This short story use to terrify me as a child because I believed one day it would be enacted. It really shows how easy it is for people to conform to any level of social ‘normality’ in order to fit in. It also shows how easily brainwashed people can become when it comes to following traditions. You can purchase the book for yourself from Amazon here.

6. Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes

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A man with a very low IQ wishes simply to fit in with the others around him. When he becomes the focus of a new IQ texting experiment that makes him a genius, he learns that life shouldn’t be lived focusing on what you don’t have. A very sad ending with an important message. You can purchase the book for yourself from Amazon here.

5. The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, & The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe

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If you’re feeling a little spooky or in need of a messed up ending, read anything by Edgar Allen Poe. Whether it’s bodies shoved in walls, floorboards, concrete coffins, or just a raven tap tap tappin on your window, Poe dives into it all. You can purchase the book for yourself on Amazon here.

4. The Veldt by Ray Bradbury (Short Story)

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This story has so much more meaning now in my opinion even since I first read it a few years back. It basically focuses on how dangerous technology can be when you let it take over your whole life. Basically like the movie Smart House, but the kids have their own plans in mind.

3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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I love this book because it is basically one adventure after another. I also love Twain’s use of broken English and slang to allow the reader to fully understand the story from Huck’s mind. You can purchase the book for yourself on Amazon here.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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I am such an old soul, I swear I was born in the wrong time period. I am a sucker for a good time period piece and honestly something about the roaring 20s has always fascinated me. The carefree attitude and parties that tell the story of The Great Gatsby are intoxicating. You can purchase the book for yourself from Amazon here.

1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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One of my all time favorite classics. I just love witnesses everything that is going on through the eyes of someone who was a child at the time the events occurred. Amazing coming of age/loss of innocence novel for sure. The black and white film adaptation is amazing too! You can purchase the book for yourself on Amazon here.

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