If you like the idea of The Dangerous Book for Boys, I assure that boys don’t come more dangerous than Stalky & Co. Little Lord Fauntleroy is not as bad as the pictures; after all, it’s by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It’s not one of the really old ones, but that may be an advantage for Tom Swift and the Visitor from Planet X. Finally, the ultimate boy-makes-good book, Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger.
If you’ve always meant to read War and Peace, let someone else read you the first book of it! (And honestly, it’s not as scary as folks say. It’s hardly a dustmote next to the meganovels and gigantically long series novels which are popular today.)
Gulliver’s Travels is one of the great works of satirical science fiction/fantasy. Ayn Rand’s Anthem isn’t all that great, but it does make some good points. I’ve always heard that Arthur Machen was a super-creepy fantasy/horror writer. You can find out with his tale of ancient magic, “The White People”.
Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini is a wonderful swashbuckling historical novel. Also, the hero is a lawyer on the run, “…born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” If you’ve seen the movie or listened to “Bohemian Rhapsody”, it’s time to hear the book!
The Rosary by Florence Louisa Barclay is a romance novel about a blinded man and a plain girl acting as his nurse. Also, presumably, a rosary, which should be interesting for readers here.
Alexander’s Bridge is a very short novel by Willa Cather that isn’t set out West. Engineers having mid-life crises are not normally subjects for fiction by anyone, though!