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Revisiting the Classics: An Introduction for Adult Readers
Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed by the thought of diving into classic literature? Fear not! 'Revisiting the Classics: An Introduction for Adult Readers' is here to make it as easy as pie. We're turning the pages of these timeless treasures into a delightful adventure that's perfect for anyone – whether you've never read a classic or are getting reacquainted with the joy of reading after life forced you to take a break. Get ready to embark on a pleasant journey into these literary masterpieces, where every page is a ticket to fun and enriching experiences!
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Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: A beloved novel that tells the story of an imaginative and spirited orphan, Anne Shirley, who is mistakenly sent to live with elderly siblings in the idyllic town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. Through her vivid imagination and fiery determination, Anne transforms the lives of those around her, turning her new home into a place of love, laughter, and unforgettable adventures. We did an informal survey of our FB community members’ top comfort books and this was the far and away winner!
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne: This adventure novel follows Phileas Fogg, a wealthy Englishman who, with his loyal French servant Passepartout, embarks on a wager to circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days. This thrilling journey takes them through various countries and encounters numerous challenges, making it a classic tale of adventure, determination, and the pursuit of the seemingly impossible.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell: A beloved novel, narrated from the perspective of a horse named Black Beauty. The book recounts the life and experiences of this horse as it moves through different owners, illustrating the mistreatment and kindness that horses can endure from humans. Through Black Beauty's eyes, the novel advocates for the humane treatment of animals and continues to inspire compassion and empathy for animals today.
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang: A collection of fairy tales compiled and edited by Leonora Blanche Lang and her husband, Andrew Lang. This book includes a variety of enchanting stories from different cultures, filled with magic and adventure. It has become a beloved classic, captivating readers of all ages with its timeless tales of wonder and imagination. If you’ve never read fairy tales, this is a great place to start!
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White: A cherished children's novel by E.B. White, this book tells the heartwarming story of a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a spider named Charlotte. With the help of Charlotte's web-spinning abilities and her clever words, they work together to save Wilbur from being sent to the slaughterhouse. This touching tale explores themes of friendship, selflessness, and the cycle of life, making it a timeless and touching story for readers of all ages. The audiobook, read by the author, adds something quite special!
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: A classic novella that tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly and cold-hearted old man. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by three spirits who show him the errors of his ways and the consequences of his greed. Through this heartwarming tale, Dickens emphasizes the importance of generosity, kindness, and the spirit of Christmas in transforming individuals and society for the better. If you’d like to follow the read with a movie, we recommend The Muppet Christmas Carol (no, really!) and The Man Who Invented Christmas.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas: This epic novel's substantial length houses an intricate plot, rich character development, and themes of betrayal, revenge, and redemption that render the journey thoroughly rewarding, unveiling the profound cost of vengeance on the human soul.
Dracula by Bram Stoker: This classic Gothic novel introduces the iconic character Count Dracula, a vampire who seeks to spread the undead curse in Victorian-era England. The novel is presented as a series of letters, diary entries, and newspaper clippings, creating a suspenseful and eerie atmosphere. "Dracula" is a quintessential work of horror fiction that has left an enduring mark on the genre and popular culture, influencing countless adaptations and interpretations of the vampire myth. Dracula is “Classic Horror,” which is quite different from modern horror so don’t be afraid to give it a chance!
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: This groundbreaking novel tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a grotesque and sentient creature through an unorthodox scientific experiment. The novel delves into themes of scientific ethics, the consequences of unchecked ambition, and the complex relationship between creator and creation. "Frankenstein" is a seminal work of Gothic literature and is often considered the first science fiction novel. It’s also Classic Horror (see Dracula^).
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: A beloved fantasy novel that follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who is thrust into an epic adventure when he joins a group of dwarves on a quest to reclaim their homeland from the dragon Smaug. Along the way, Bilbo encounters magical creatures, battles, and moral dilemmas, ultimately discovering courage and heroism within himself. "The Hobbit" is a tale of adventure and personal growth that serves as a prelude to Tolkien's epic "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle: A classic Sherlock Holmes mystery featuring the detective's investigation into a series of mysterious deaths on the desolate moors of Devonshire. Classic horror and mystery, this is a popular Holmes story for those who love to sit on the edge of their seats.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: Follow the journey of the orphaned Jane Eyre as she becomes a governess and navigates love, social class, and personal integrity. An excellent choice for a first Gothic (horror- yes, I said that!) novel. And if you want to have read a classic that people have VERY strong opinions on? This is the one.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: A beloved novel that follows the lives of the four March sisters—Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy—during the American Civil War era. It explores themes of family, love, independence, and the pursuit of one's dreams. Through their joys and struggles, the sisters navigate the challenges of growing up, making it an ever relatable coming-of-age story cherished for its strong characters and enduring values. Make sure you read a copy that includes the second “book” Good Wives.
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare: A comedic play that centers around the witty banter, romantic entanglements, and mistaken identities of the characters, particularly the love story of Beatrice and Benedick, set against a backdrop of social conventions and misunderstandings. With its humor, clever wordplay, and exploration of love and deception, the play remains one of Shakespeare's most enduring and entertaining works. This is the play that inspired me to start reading and memorizing Shakespeare for fun like a total weirdo. If you love Much Ado and haven’t checked out the 2012 movie with original text and modern setting, it’s a treat!
The Odyssey by Homer: An ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer. It follows the adventures of Odysseus, a hero from the Trojan War, as he strives to return home to his kingdom of Ithaca. This epic tale explores themes of heroism, cunning, loyalty, and the challenges one must overcome to reunite with family and reclaim one's homeland. When you grab a copy, we recommend Lattimore as your translator.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway: A novella portraying the powerful struggle of an aging Cuban fisherman named Santiago as he battles a giant marlin in the Gulf Stream. Through this gripping story, Hemingway explores themes of resilience, the human spirit, and the complex relationship between man and nature.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: A classic novel by Jane Austen that explores themes of love, class, and societal expectations in early 19th-century England. The story primarily follows the headstrong Elizabeth Bennet and the proud Mr. Darcy as they navigate misunderstandings and societal pressures to ultimately find love. Austen's sharp wit and keen social commentary make "Pride and Prejudice" an abiding work, known for its memorable characters and enduring appeal.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier: A psychological thriller novel that tells the story of an unnamed young woman who marries Maxim de Winter and moves to his grand estate, Manderley. There, she becomes haunted by the legacy of Maxim's deceased first wife, Rebecca, and the eerie secrets that shroud her death. The novel is celebrated for its atmospheric tension, complex characters, and exploration of jealousy and identity. This is a book like no other and a great starting point in the classics for fans of Alfred Hitchcock movies. If you want to celebrate your read by watching a movie of the story, our recommendation is 1940s black and white version.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: A classic novel set in 17th-century Puritan Massachusetts. It follows the story of Hester Prynne, a woman who is ostracized and marked with a scarlet letter "A" for her adultery. The novel delves into themes of sin, guilt, societal hypocrisy, and the search for personal redemption, making it a profound exploration of human nature and morality. It is also a great Tandem Read to Three Knocks on the Wall by Evelyn Sibley Lampman!
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: A beloved children's novel that tells the story of Mary Lennox, a spoiled and lonely girl who discovers a hidden, neglected garden on her uncle's estate. Through the magic of nature and the help of friends, including her cousin Colin, Mary's life undergoes a transformation. The novel explores themes of healing, growth, and the transformative power of nature in a beautifully written and enchanting tale.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: A novel telling the life story of Janie Crawford, an African American woman in the early 20th century. Through Janie's journey to find her own voice and identity, the book explores themes of love, self-discovery, and the role of women in society, making it a powerful and enduring work of American literature. Amber O’Neal Johnston described this book as “a pivotal book… and the first time I was hearing the voice of a black woman in a book.”
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: A classic novel set in the racially charged American South during the 1930s. It revolves around the Finch family, particularly young Scout Finch, and her father, Atticus Finch, a lawyer who defends an innocent Black man accused of raping a white woman. The novel addresses themes of racial injustice, moral growth, and the loss of innocence, and it remains a powerful exploration of the complexities of human nature and society. The movie is a classic in its own right.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: A classic novel that follows the coming-of-age story of Francie Nolan, a young girl growing up in the early 20th century in the impoverished Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. The novel portrays her family's struggles, dreams, and resilience as they pursue a better life in the face of poverty and adversity. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" is an exploration of the immigrant experience, the power of education, and the enduring hope found in everyday life.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame: Often regarded as a children's book, it's worth noting that this story is actually an adult-oriented work that can also be enjoyed by children (if you wish). Initially proposed by Kenneth Grahame as 'Mr. Mole and his Mates,' it quickly becomes evident why – the characters Rat, Mole, Toad, and their companions could easily be likened to well-off British gentlemen, and their escapades often parallel the experiences of young men rather than mere animals. - An excellent follow up book for those who fall in love with the setting of this story is How the Heather Looks: a joyous journey to the British sources of children's books by Joan Bodger and Mark Lang.
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne: A beloved children's book that features the adventures of Winnie the Pooh, a lovable bear, and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, including Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, and more. The stories capture the charm of childhood innocence and imagination, emphasizing the importance of friendship, kindness, and simple pleasures. "Winnie the Pooh" remains a cherished classic that continues to enchant readers of all ages.
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