The Old Man and the Sea
When reviewing a classic like The Old Man and the Sea, it's difficult to find something to say that hasn't already been said. This concise novella packs a punch in 128 short pages. Santiago is the old man in the title, a Cuban fisherman who has gone more than 80 days without a catch. He's a lonely man, ridiculed by other fishermen and forced to fish alone after losing his assistant (forced by his parents to fish with another, luckier, fisherman). Santiago decides to go further out into the sea than the other fishermen and, sure enough, snags a marlin larger than his boat.
The rest of the book recounts Santiago's efforts to reel in the fish (this task alone takes more than a day), and then bring the fish back to port. He demonstrates powerful mental and physical strength as he combats the marlin, sharks, hunger, fatigue, and loneliness. Much has been written about this work's themes of pride and redemption, and comparisons to Hemingway's late career. And while there are certainly symbols and messages in this book, it's also a great story that holds your attention the entire way through. ( )