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My five best books (or, books that changed my life).

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The one I love the most. The one that challenged me. What follows is a list of five books that have earned a permanent place on my bookshelves, the ones that have affected me the most. These are my best five books. 

Peter Pan

All children except one grow up. In 1904, Peter Pan first flew across a London stage and into the bedroom of Wendy, John, and Michael Darling. Ever since, this perpetual youth has continued to delight children of all ages. Young readers will happily soar with him and his friends to enchanted Neverland, where they'll meet Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys, and the -dark and sinister- Captain Hook. It's a tale as ageless as its beloved hero.

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The Great Gatsby

These sumptuous new hardback editions mark the 70th anniversary of Fitzgerald's death.Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby - young, handsome, fabulously rich - always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing for the one thing that will always be out of his reach. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.

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Rebecca

'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .'Working as a lady's companion, our heroine's outlook is bleak until, on a trip to the south of France, she meets a handsome widower whose proposal takes her by surprise. She accepts but, whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is for ever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper Mrs Danvers . . . An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young woman consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

In this novel - a story of irreconcilable loves and infidelities - Milan Kundera addresses himself to the nature of twentieth-century 'Being' In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. We feel, says the novelist, 'the unbearable lightness of being' - not only as the consequence of our private acts but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine. Juxtaposing Prague, Geneva, Thailand and the United States, this masterly novel encompasses the extremes of comedy and tragedy, and embraces, it seems, all aspects of human existence. It offers a wide range of brilliant and amusing philosophical speculations and it descants on a variety of styles.

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The Consolations of Philosophy

The Consolations of Philosophy is Alain de Botton's internationally bestselling guide to life.Alain de Botton, bestselling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life, has set six of the finest minds in the history of philosophy to work on the problems of everyday life. Here then are Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche on some of the things that bother us all: lack of money, the pain of love, inadequacy, anxiety; the fear of failure and the pressure to conform.'Singlehandedly, de Botton has taken philosophy back to its simplest and most important purpose: helping us live our lives' Independent'No doubt about it, philosophy is the new rock and roll and Alain de Botton is its Colonel Tom Parker . . . A pleasure to read. And good writing, like good philosophy, is always a consolation' John Banville, Irish Times'Few discussions on the great philosophers can have been so entertaining . . . an ingenious, imaginative book' Humphrey Carpenter, Sunday Times'Witty, thoughtful, entertaining . . . a stylish book, which manages to make philosophy both enjoyable and relevant' Anthony Clare, Literary Review'Gentle, helpful and humane . . . De Botton's instinct is surely right: if we are to bring philosophy to life we should look again at those thinkers who have sought to be not clever or paradoxical, but simply wise' Roger Scruton, Mail on Sunday

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