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The English Teacher Reflects: Books That Exceeded His Expectations

Whenever I start a book, be it fiction or non-fiction, literary or popular, heavy or light, I go in with certain expectations. Occasionally I'm disappointed, but most of the time I pretty much get what I figured I would. Sometimes, however, I am surprised(and pleased) when the book I'm reading turns out to be much more than I had expected, often in ways I never even considered. Often I will then seek out other works by the same author(s). [Case in point - Emily St. John Mandel. After having been blown away by "Station Eleven ", I sought out her other books. I have been surprised and moved by all of them.] Here are 125 books , all of which have far exceeded expectations. Some have left me pleasantly surprised while others have left me gob-smacked. I would (and in many cases already have) reread them again. And again. And…
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made by James Loranger
avg. score: 9 of 125 (7%)
required scores: 1, 3, 6, 9, 13 

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1
The Alienist
The Alienist
2
All Quiet on the Western Front (Remarque)
All Quiet on the Western Front (Remarque)
3
American Gods (Neil Gaiman)
American Gods (Neil Gaiman)
4
An Iliad (Lisa Peterson & Denis O'Hare)
An Iliad (Lisa Peterson & Denis O'Hare)
5
Ancient Images (Ramsey Campbell)
Ancient Images (Ramsey Campbell)
6
Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge (Antony Beevor)
Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge (Antony Beevor)
7
Astounding (Alec Nevala-Lee)
Astounding (Alec Nevala-Lee)
8
Audrey's Door
Audrey's Door
9
The Beardless Warriors (Richard Matheson)
The Beardless Warriors (Richard Matheson)
10
Beowulf (Crossley-Holland)
Beowulf (Crossley-Holland)
11
Beowulf (Mitchell, Translation)
Beowulf (Mitchell, Translation)
12
The Book of Joe (Jonathan Tropper)
The Book of Joe (Jonathan Tropper)
13
Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast of Champions
14
Büchner: Complete Collected Works (Büchner/Schmidt)
Büchner: Complete Collected Works (Büchner/Schmidt)
15
Burnt Offerings
Burnt Offerings
16
A Canticle for Leibowitz (Miller)
A Canticle for Leibowitz (Miller)
17
Carrion Comfort (Simmons)
Carrion Comfort (Simmons)
18
Children of the Night
Children of the Night
19
A Clockwork Orange (Burgess)
A Clockwork Orange (Burgess)
20
The Comedians (Greene)
The Comedians (Greene)
21
Corrupting Dr. Nice (John Kessel)
Corrupting Dr. Nice (John Kessel)
22
The Crook Factory (Simmons)
The Crook Factory (Simmons)
23
The Dance of Genghis Cohn (Gary)
The Dance of Genghis Cohn (Gary)
24
The Dark Country (Dennis Etchison)
The Dark Country (Dennis Etchison)
25
Dark Matter (Blake Crouch)
Dark Matter (Blake Crouch)
26
The Day of the Jackal (Frederick Forsyth)
The Day of the Jackal (Frederick Forsyth)
27
The Dead Zone (Stephen King)
The Dead Zone (Stephen King)
28
A Distant Mirror (Barbara Tuchman)
A Distant Mirror (Barbara Tuchman)
29
The Doctor Is Sick (Anthony Burgess)
The Doctor Is Sick (Anthony Burgess)
30
Drood (Simmons)
Drood (Simmons)
31
Dubliners (Joyce)
Dubliners (Joyce)
32
Dying Inside (Robert Silverberg)
Dying Inside (Robert Silverberg)
33
The Egyptian (Mika Waltari)
The Egyptian (Mika Waltari)
34
Eye of the Needle (Ken Follett)
Eye of the Needle (Ken Follett)
35
The First Circle (Solzhenitsyn)
The First Circle (Solzhenitsyn)
36
Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War (Mark Harris)
Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War (Mark Harris)
37
Foucault's Pendulum (Umberto Eco)
Foucault's Pendulum (Umberto Eco)
38
Founding Brothers (Joseph Ellis)
Founding Brothers (Joseph Ellis)
39
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes (Loren D. Estleman)
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes (Loren D. Estleman)
40
Gates of Fire (Steven Pressfield)
Gates of Fire (Steven Pressfield)
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