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We've got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you'll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)

(2) Sea Level

You won't need hiking boots or a pick ax or loads of dried buffalo jerky to conquer this novel, Nature Lovers. In addition to being a fiction writer, Robert O'Brien was also a journalist. As you probably know, journalists are trained to tell the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of a story without a lot of other stuff getting in the way.

This is the way that Rats is told as well: straightforward, direct, to-the-point. Does this mean it's easy? Nope—you'll get a good workout as you read, which just means you'll be all the smarter for the effort you put in. Just like novels that are a little more difficult to slog through, this novel asks some of the Big Questions—about love, family, power, and knowledge. So take a leisurely stroll through the novel, but don't forget to stop at some of the scenic lookouts on the way. There are some great views here.

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