March 2003

Reading Recommendations · Classic Novels

Cover of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

1884
by Mark Twain
Justice and honor are celebrated in this story about Huck’s adventures on the Mississippi River with the runaway slave Jim.

All Quiet on the Western Front

1929
by Erich Maria Remarque
Though the war he describes is World War I, Remarque writes eloquently of all wars in this tale of a young German sent to fight in the trenches.

Beloved

1987
by Toni Morrison
Morrison’s heart-breaking novel tells the story of a woman who escapes from slavery to freedom in Cincinnati but remains haunted by her daughter’s murder.
Cover of The Best Short Stories

The Best Short Stories

1945
by O. Henry
Short vignettes display irony and coincidence in everyday life. O. Henry’s forte is the surprise ending.

Brave New World

1932
by Aldous Huxley
Huxley brilliantly satirizes contemporary society’s dehumanization in this grim novel of the future.

The Call of the Wild

1903
by Jack London
When his beloved master is killed, the dog Buck flees to the wild, where he becomes the leader of a wolf pack. Rousing adventure set in Alaska’s Klondike country.
Cover of Catch-22

Catch-22

1961
by Joseph Heller
This black comedy about World War II Army Air Corps aviators attempting to survive the absurdities of military bureaucracy has become a part of the American collective consciousness.

The Catcher in the Rye

1951
by J.D. Salinger
Fleeing his Pennsylvania prep school, Holden Caulfield holes up in New York City and rails against adult phoniness while trying to lose his innocence.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes

1936
by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Baker Street saga is chronicled in this collection that includes “A Study in Scarlet,” the 1887 story that introduced the English detective Sherlock Holmes, and his assistant Dr. Watson.
Cover of Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

1886
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
First published in Russian in 1866, this masterful psychological novel shows the horror and remorse of Raskolnikoff, a student, after he has killed an old woman for her money.

Cry, the Beloved Country

1948
by Alan Paton
In lyrical language Paton relates the moving story of a Zulu minister who searches for his children in Johannesburg, only to learn that South African society has destroyed their lives.

Don Quixote

1612
by Miguel de Cervantes
Originally published in Spanish in 1605, Cervantes’ satire about a gentle visionary who becomes a knight after reading too many chivalric romances is a universal tale of idealism versus practicality.
Cover of Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome

1911
by Edith Wharton
An unhappy couple attempts suicide but find a far worse fate in this tale of irony and retribution in rural New England.

Gone with the Wind

1936
by Margaret Mitchell
Set against the backdrop of Georgia during the Civil War, Mitchell’s massive historical novel chronicles the tempestuous romance of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara.

The Good Earth

1931
by Pearl S. Buck
This Pulitzer Prize winner follows Wang Lung’s family from their early struggles to live off the land to their final disintegration as they move to the city.
Cover of The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath

1939
by John Steinbeck
Proletarian fiction at its finest, Steinbeck’s portrait of an Oklahoma family during the Depression spurred legislation to help stricken migrant workers.

The Great Gatsby

1925
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jay Gatsby has built an illegal empire to win the love of Daisy Buchanan, but his sacrifices for her prove to be his downfall.

Heart of Darkness

1902
by Joseph Conrad
Marlow relates the tale of Mr. Kurtz, successful in his greedy quest for ivory in the African Congo but leaving in its place hunger, death and slavery, for the natives.
Cover of Invisible Man

Invisible Man

1952
by Ralph Ellison
A young African American man moves to New York City and discovers he is “invisible,” seen only as a racial stereotype and never as himself.

Jane Eyre 1847

by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre’s ill-fated love for the brooding Mr. Rochester endures in this story of a strong-willed heroine who refuses to compromise herself.

Lord of the Flies

1954
by William Golding
A group of English schoolboys, marooned on a tropical island during a time of atomic warfare, bring both civilization and savagery to their community.
Cover of Moby Dick

Moby Dick

1851
by Herman Melville
Captain Ahab’s obsessive struggle to defeat Moby Dick, the great white whale who maimed him, is the focus of Melville’s masterpiece.

My Antonia

1918
by Willa Cather
In spite of a life of hard work, Bohemian immigrant Antonia Shimerda is sustained by the healthy Nebraska soil and her warm-hearted brood of children.

Native Son

1940
by Richard Wright
The accidental death of his white boss’s daughter begins a chain of events from which Bigger Thomas, a bitter young black man, cannot escape.
Cover of Nineteen Eighty Four

Nineteen Eighty Four

1949
by George Orwell
Ignorance is strength and peace is war in Orwell’s darkly imaginative vision of a future controlled by Big Brother and the Thought Police.

Of Human Bondage

1915
by W. Somerset Maugham
Afflicted with a club foot, Philip Carey suffers through his life, struggling to free himself from a destructive love affair and finally finding contentment as a country doctor.

Of Mice and Men

1937
by John Steinbeck
George and Lenny, itinerant Depression-era farm laborers, have their dream of attaining the good life shattered on a troubled ranch in the the Salinas Valley in Steinbeck's monumental novella of social realism.

The Old Man and the Sea

1952
by Ernest Hemingway
Santiago realizes the dream of catching a giant marlin, but he must battle the sharks for two days to bring his prize home.
Cover of Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

1813
by Jane Austen
A delightful comedy of marriage traces the courtship of Elizabeth and Darcy as they overcome his pride and her prejudice and fall in love.

The Red Badge of Courage

1895
by Stephen Crane
Through the eyes of Henry Fleming, a young Civil War soldier, we see the fears of battle and the inexplicable courage that comes when soldiers unite in a wartime machine.

Robinson Crusoe

1719
by Daniel Defoe
Defoe’s novel about a castaway marooned for twenty-four years on a deserted island is an engrossing story of survival, civilization, and barbarism.
Cover of The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter

1850
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hawthorne’s novel is a study of sin, guilt, and revenge. Adultress Hester Prynne must bear public humiliation but Roger Chillingsworth and Arthur Dimmesdale suffer equally.

A Separate Peace

1959
by John Knowles
Fifteen years later, the narrator remembers his boarding school roommate. The rivalry that tinged their friendship eventually leads to tragedy.

Silas Marner

1861
by George Eliot
This classic story shows redemption for a lonely and bitter man in the form of a child who brings him love and hope.
Cover of The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury

1929
by William Faulkner
The moral decay of the Old South is presented through the eyes of four members of the once prominent Compson family of Jefferson, Mississippi.

The Stranger

1946
by Albert Camus
First published in French in 1942, the narrator of Albert Camus’ existential masterpiece is an autobiographical figure who does not conform to religious morality or social convention.

A Tale of Two Cities

1859
by Charles Dickens
This dramatic story of Paris and London during the Reign of Terror contains some of Dickens’ most memorable characters—Madame Defarge with her knitting and the self-sacrificing Sidney Carton.
Cover of Tales

Tales

1952
by Edgar Allan Poe
A collection of short stories by the nineteenth century master of the macabre. Included are “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

1891
by Thomas Hardy
Tess is ruined when her father’s vanity forces her to seek the favors of rich relations, and her life becomes a study in the grim reality of her times.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

1937
by Zora Neale Hurston
An African-American woman in 1930s rural Florida finds freedom and self-knowledge through a personal journey encompassing three very different marriages.
Cover of To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

1960
by Harper Lee
Small town Alabama in the 1930s is the setting for this fine novel of a child’s brutal introdution to racial prejudice and adult injustice.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

1852
by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Stowe’s sentimental but realistic novel is often credited with heightening public awareness about the evils of slavery, thus hastening the Civil War.

War and Peace

1889
by Leo Tolstoy
An enormous cast of characters brings life to Tolstoy’s panoramic chronicle of Napoleonic Russia. Originally published in the 1860s.
Cover of Winesburg, Ohio

Winesburg, Ohio

1919
by Sherwood Anderson
Twenty-three stories of small town America show the characters’ spiritual dreams in conflict with society’s provincialism and materialism.

Wuthering Heights

1847
by Emily Bronte
Catherine and Heathcliff are the tempestuous lovers in this tale of passion and revenge on the Yorkshire moors.
Need more suggestions? Email the Popular Library or contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you.