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The Best Mark Twain Books By (and About) the Great Humorist

For a writer who died in 1910, the last decade has brought with it a host of (more or less) new books by Mark Twain. His writings remain widely read (and widely debated) today. The works he’s created are also iconic enough for a series of talented writers to revisit and re-interpret. With previously-unread work from him seeing the light of day later this year, here’s a look at some of the best Mark Twain books — by him, about him, and ones which use his work as a starting point.
  1. 1
    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Book Cover Picture
    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Book Cover Picture

    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    by Mark Twain

    Here we have Twain’s most enduring book, no matter how you skin it: whether you’re approaching it in childhood as an adventure story, later in life as one of satire, or perhaps as a tale of the emergence of conscience in defiance of a nation’s political realities. It’s frequently paired with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but it’s telling that contemporary writers who have revisited Twain’s characters tend to cast Sawyer in a less glowing role. And nearly any novel where, more than a century after its release, still prompts heated arguments over its meaning is likely doing something right.
    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Book Cover Picture
    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Book Cover Picture

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  2. 2
    A Tramp Abroad Book Cover Picture
    A Tramp Abroad Book Cover Picture

    A Tramp Abroad

    by Mark Twain

    While Twain’s fiction is somewhat more widely read than his nonfiction, his observations of life in the United States and abroad is also well worth revisiting. A Tramp Abroad was his followup to a previous travel narrative, The Innocents Abroad. It chronicles a trip Twain made to Europe, and juxtaposes Twain’s wry humor with affecting passages about the landscape through which he ventured.
    A Tramp Abroad Book Cover Picture
    A Tramp Abroad Book Cover Picture

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  3. 3
    Pudd'nhead Wilson Book Cover Picture
    Pudd'nhead Wilson Book Cover Picture

    Pudd’nhead Wilson

    by Mark Twain

    Twain’s novel was the first to use fingerprinting to solve a crime, but its significance goes much further as an investigation into the nature of identity. When two young men are forced to change places, the former slave finds himself exiled to a white world where he will never feel at ease. Despite its ironic humor and the symmetrical neatness of its denouement, Pudd’nhead Wilson is a tragedy that refuses easy answers.
    Pudd'nhead Wilson Book Cover Picture
    Pudd'nhead Wilson Book Cover Picture

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  4. 4
    Life on the Mississippi Book Cover Picture
    Life on the Mississippi Book Cover Picture

    Life on the Mississippi

    by Mark Twain

    The Mississippi River was a constant in Twain’s life: he grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which borders it, and went on to use it as an element in much of his writing. This collection of writings about his early life and his connection to the river is considered one of his best works; it chronicles both Twain’s own experiences working on the Mississippi and the lives and stories he encountered there, some humorous and some tragic.
    Life on the Mississippi Book Cover Picture
    Life on the Mississippi Book Cover Picture

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  5. 5
    The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine Book Cover Picture
    The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine Book Cover Picture

    The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine

    by Mark Twain and Philip C. Stead

    In a hotel in Paris one evening in 1879, Mark Twain sat with his young daughters, who begged their father for a story. Twain began telling them the tale of Johnny, a poor boy in possession of some magical seeds. Later, Twain would jot down some rough notes about the story, but the tale was left unfinished . . . until now.
    The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine Book Cover Picture
    The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine Book Cover Picture

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  6. 6
    Roughing It Book Cover Picture
    Roughing It Book Cover Picture

    Roughing It

    by Mark Twain

    In 1861, young Mark Twain found himself adrift as a newcomer in the Wild West, working as a civil servant, silver prospector, mill worker, and finally a reporter and traveling lecturer. Roughing It is the hilarious record of those early years traveling from Nevada to California to Hawaii, as Twain tried his luck at anything and everything—and usually failed. Twain’s encounters with tarantulas and donkeys, vigilantes and volcanoes, even Brigham Young, the Mormon leader, come to life with his inimitable mixture of reporting, social satire, and rollicking tall tales.
    Roughing It Book Cover Picture
    Roughing It Book Cover Picture

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  7. 7
    The Singular Mark Twain Book Cover Picture
    The Singular Mark Twain Book Cover Picture

    The Singular Mark Twain

    by Fred Kaplan

    The Singular Mark Twain Book Cover Picture
    The Singular Mark Twain Book Cover Picture

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