1. Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

A short and simple read, Hemingway’s classic novel chronicles the three day adventure of fisherman Santiago and his battle with a large fish at sea.  Although the book is barely over 100 pages long, its complex themes and deeper meaning have made it a highly referenced classic and a must-read.

2. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

This French classic is the perfect drama to help anyone understand the tumults of the French Revolution.  It follows a French spy, Percy Blakeney, who works against the officials leading the Reign of Terror, during which former aristocrats were guillotined daily.   The fast paced flow and adventurous scenes in the French hillsides make history fun and exciting.

3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why tells the story of  teenager Clay Jensen. One day, he discovers a package on his porch containing thirteen tapes Hannah Baker made shortly before her suicide, chronicling each reason she killed herself. Stunningly mysterious, the novel provides a window into the teenage mind, conveying the devastation that comes with the death of someone so young.

4. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

A great historical fiction novel,  Memoirs of a Geisha opens a door into the geisha district of Kyoto, Japan; Gion, before and after World War l. The story centers around a young girl, Chiyo, as she is sold from a fishing village to an okiya (a geisha boarding house) and tries to make a life for herself. The novel encompasses a fascinating taste of history.