Classic of the Month: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

christmascarolotherA Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens

Published by Penguin Classics on October 30, 2oo3

Genres: Classics, Fiction, Holiday, Literary

Pages: 288 Format: Paperback Source: Library

4/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

Dickens’ story of solitary miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who is taught the true meaning of Christmas by a series of ghostly visitors, has proved one of his most well-loved works. Ever since it was published in 1843 it has had an enduring influence on the way we think about the traditions of Christmas. Dickens’ other Christmas writings collected here include ‘The Story of the Goblins who Stole a Sexton’, the short story from The Pickwick Papers on which A Christmas Carol was based; The Haunted Man, a tale of a man tormented by painful memories; along with shorter pieces, some drawn from the ‘Christmas Stories’ that Dickens wrote annually for his weekly journals. In all of them Dickens celebrates the season as one of geniality, charity and remembrance.

Continue reading

Classic of the Month: King Lear

KingLearKing Lear by William Shakespeare

Published by Signet in June 1998

Genres: Classics, Fiction, Plays, Drama

Pages: 275 Format: Paperback Source: Library

2/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

King Lear, growing old and too tired to reign, decides to divide his realm amongst his three daughters, leaving the largest share to the one who loves him the most. His two eldest daughters, Goneril and Regan, foolish and deceitful children, are rewarded for their insincere flattery. His youngest daughter, Cordelia, however, speaks honestly and truthfully, which enrages the old king. He disinherits Cordelia, and then drives himself to madness, left to wander the heath with only his Fool, his servant Caius, and the madman Tom O’Bedlam for company. Once reunited with Cordelia, Lear is too late, repents his rashness, and must face the tragic consequences of his choices.

Continue reading

Classic of the Month: The Stranger by Albert Camus

TheStrangerThe Stranger by Albert Camus

Published by Vintage International on March 28, 1989

Genres: Adult, Fiction, Classics, Philosophical

Pages: 123 Format: Paperback Source: Library

2.5/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.” First published in English in 1946; now in a new translation by Matthew Ward.

Continue reading

Classic of the Month: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

BluestEyeThe Bluest Eye by Toni Morisson

Published by Knopf on December 28, 1993

Genres: Fiction, Classics, African-American, Historical

Pages: 216 Format: Hardcover Source: Library

4/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author’s girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves’ garden do not bloom. Pecola’s life does change- in painful, devastating ways.
What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child’s yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Toni Morrisons’s most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.

Continue reading

Classic of the Month: The Crucible by Arthur Miller

CrucibleThe Crucible by Arthur Miller

Published by Penguin Classics on March 25, 2003

Genres: Fiction, Classics, Plays, Historical, Drama

Pages: 143 Format: Paperback Source: Library

4/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

“I believe that the reader will discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history,” Arthur Miller wrote of his classic play about the witch-hunts and trials in seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts. Based on historical people and real events, Miller’s drama is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria. In the rigid theocracy of Salem, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town’s most basic fears and suspicions; and when a young girl accuses Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch, self-righteous church leaders and townspeople insist that Elizabeth be brought to trial. The ruthlessness of the prosecutors and the eagerness of neighbor to testify against neighbor brilliantly illuminate the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence.

Written in 1953, The Crucible is a mirror Miller uses to reflect the anti-communist hysteria inspired by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s “witch-hunts” in the United States. Within the text itself, Miller contemplates the parallels, writing, “Political opposition… is given an inhumane overlay, which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied customs of civilized behavior. A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence.”

Continue reading

Classic of the Month: The Eve of St. Agnes

EveofStAgnesThe Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats

Published by Penguin Classics on February 26, 2015

Genres: Fiction, Poetry, Classics, Romance

Pages: 64 Format: Paperback Source: Purchased

4/5 Stars

Image Credit: Goodreads

The Romantic poet’s most lyrical, enchanting verse on myth, sensuality, dreams, and superstition. 

This Little Black Classic collects five of John Keats’ poems: The Eve of St. Agnes, La Belle Dame sans Merci. A Ballad, Lamia, Ode to Psyche, and Ode on a Grecian Urn. It’s full of gorgeous prose, romantic leanings, and vivid imagery.

When I Discovered This Classic

John Keats is a poet we hear about so often but I had never actually sat down to read any of his work before. When the Little Black Classics were released I thought it was the perfect time to read a selection of his poems. Keats weaves words with such eloquent design and I’m glad I picked it up for Classic of the Month.

Continue reading

Classic of the Month: Come Close by Sappho

ComeCloseCome Close by Sappho

Published by Penguin Classics on February 26, 2015

Genres: Fiction, Poetry, Classical

Pages: 55 Format: Paperback Source: Purchased

4.5/5 Stars

Image Credit: Goodreads

Sensual, sun-soaked verse on love and the gods in Ancient Greece, from the poet named ‘the tenth Muse’ by Plato.

This month’s classic, Come Close by Sappho, was a short but sweet interlude between all the new release books I’ve been reading this month. Born on the island of Lesbos, Sappho was a lyric poet from Ancient Greece. As with most classical literature, a majority of Sappho’s writing has been lost to the world, but her legacy lives on in surviving fragments like those contained in this compilation.

Continue reading

Classic of the Month: Treasure Island

TreasureIslandTreasure Island by Robert-Louis Stevenson

Published by Barnes & Noble on September 25, 2012

Genres: Fiction, Adventure, Historical, Middle Grade, Children’s

Pages: 272 Format: Hardcover Source: Purchased

4/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

When he attends a dying patron of his family’s boarding house, young Jim Hawkins has no idea that the man was once a pirate, or that the man’s possessions include a map that will lead whoever has it to the island where the notorious buccaneer, Captain Flint, buried his treasure. Jim and his guardians hire a boat to sail to the island, unaware that crew they have hired includes many members of Flint’s pirate band, among them former quartermaster Long John Silver, and that they hope to claim the treasure for their own. The ensuing action-packed adventure established the classic pirate story as it was written for more than a century afterward, and it made the literary reputation of its young author, Robert Louis Stevenson.

Continue reading