Category: Classics


Categories: Classics

Classic Novels for Beginners

If you:
• Break out into a sweat while reading anything by the unmistakably wordy Charles Dickens
• Hyperventilate at the thought of William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, with its 720 pages of rich description and character analysis... but absolutely no action or adventure
• Find slogging through the long histories of Middle Earth’s elvish folk found in Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien to be akin to medieval torture

…then you are probably NOT a classics fan. That is okay. As much as some very sage individuals attempt to impose classics on others, those books are not for everyone.

However, you may be wishing that once, just once, you could get through one of those well-loved books that have been around for decades, perhaps even centuries. Perhaps you wish you could sit in your Oxford-style sitting room, sipping a “cuppa tea”, with your dusty tome in hand, pleasantly chuckling over the intricacies and witticisms of Austen, Bronte or Hugo. Or, maybe not… but maybe the only thing keeping you from enjoying a classic is not knowing where to begin!

If that is the case, here is just a sampling for you, the budding classics reader, to get you started:

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Swordfights. True Love. Adventure. Humour. Betrayal. ROUS’s.
All of this, and more, is contained with the satirical love story of Westley and Buttercup. A perfect transitional book from modern books to classics, The Princess Bride as a book is even more enjoyable and humourous (believe it or not) than its cinematographic counterpart. And, as warning, though S. Morgenstern may attempt to convince you otherwise, Florin and Guilder unfortunately do not exist.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
After a tumble down a rabbit hole one boring afternoon, Alice enters the dream-like (or nightmarish) world of Wonderland. There, she meets unusual personages, including the colourful characters of the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. Alice tale may have been one that was originally intended for children, but anyone can appreciate a little bizarreness in their day-to-day life.

Check out Through the Looking Glass, by the same author, for more demented tales, including those of the Jabberwocky and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Emma by Jane Austen
For those that usually enjoy a romantic story, please meet the original romantic writer- Jane Austen. Any of her five books are perfect for the newbie Classics reader, each consisting of a wealthy gentleman who must vie for the love of a memorable and intelligent heroine. And, much to the appreciation of Austen’s fans, there is always a “happy ever after” ending.
There are also a few movie versions of each book, just in case you just can’t get enough of Jane.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A dark, gothic atmosphere and an unfailingly strong heroine characterize this next novel. Jane Eyre, an impoverished young governess, learns to stand on her own as a person, even as she is removed from her love and his deep, crazy secret. Though slightly slower in nature than some of the aforementioned titles, this book is definitely worth the read.

Some Other titles (many are young adult or juvenile novels, but great for adults too!):
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

By Danielle L.


Classic of Transgender Fiction

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
This internationally acclaimed, award winning novel by historian and activist Feinberg follows the journey of Jess Goldberg, a masculine girl growing up during the McCarthy era. Confused initially about the strict lines between male and female, Jess begins to push the boundaries, visiting gay bars, trying on her father's suits and using men's rooms. This was the time when police squads raided gay bars, and she is jailed on more than one occasion. She also begins to take hormone treatments, but when the emotional implications of changing sex become overwhelming, she stops. Some physiological changes, such as the deepening of her voice, are irreversible, and she finds herself stranded somewhere between genders, and feeling even more undefined in an "either/or" world. Goldberg's journey evokes the confusion and struggle of transgendered people, and her story is a landmark in the literature.
In 1994 Stone Butch Blues won the Stonewall Book Award, the American Library Association Gay and Lesbian Book Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Feinberg continues to be an activist, speaker and author/blogger
( She is the author of Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman, Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue, and another novel, Drag King Dreams.


Stephen King's The Stand turns 30!

Originally published in 1978, Stephen King's post-apocalyptic masterpiece The Stand turns 30 this year.

In 1990, King re-released the novel as The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition. For this, King restored text originally axed by his publishers, added and revised other sections, changed the setting of the novel from 1980 to 1990, and updated a few pop culture references accordingly. The result is a whopping 1,138 pages of what many King fans and critics alike consider to be his most outstanding work.

In the decades since its first publication, this epic end-of-the-world saga has continued to engage readers from all age groups in many different languages all around the world. The universal appeal of The Stand remains undisputed and in these troubling times, its themes seem more relevant than ever.

Brimming with a vast array of richly defined characters supported by a complex and engaging plot, The Stand is a classic tale of the post-apocalypse. A man-made superflu known as Captain Trips wipes out the world's population save for a small band of survivors. What awaits them is unknown, but it becomes obvious strange forces are manipulating the survivors, setting them up for a classic battle of Good and Evil in which the fate of humankind depends.

Find The Stand: Complete and Uncut in the RPL catalogue has published a new interview with Mr. King to mark The Stand's 30th anniversary. Read it here.

***Original post appears courtesy of the horror blog


Banned Books Week Sept 27 - Oct 4, 2008

RPL is celebrating Banned Books Week and you can join in the fight against censorship by reading a banned book!

The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books in 2000-2007

Check out this list of banned books posted on

Find these banned/challenged books in the RPL catalogue:

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Carrie by Stephen King

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Cujo by Stephen King

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

Forever by Judy Blume

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

Ulysses by James Joyce

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

The Witches by Roald Dahl


100th Anniversary, 100 Books Part II

#3 on the list is:
By Diana Gabaldon

After being separated by seven years of World War II, Claire and Frank Randall return to the Scottish Highlands for a second honeymoon. Left to her own devices while her husband immerses himself in historical pursuits, Claire inadvertently enters a circle of standing stones and is plunged back 200 years to a Scotland on the verge of the second Jacobite uprising. Her pluck and skill as a nurse win the Scots' grudging respect, but only marriage to a Scot will save her from the clutches of Frank's vicious forbear, Black Jack Randall. Though first novelist Gabaldon uses time travel primarily to allow a modern heroine, this is basically a richly textured historical novel with an unusual and compelling love story. (Book Description taken from Library Journal on Amazon)

Claire's adventure continues as the series carries on:
Dragonfly in Amber (1991)
Voyager (1993)
The Drums of Autumn (1996)
The Fiery Cross (2001)
A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005)

And look for her newest edition to the Outlander series (An Echo in the Bone) coming available in 2009.

#4 on the list is:
To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up. (Description taken from Amazon)

This book is the Winner of the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for Literature.

#5 on the list is:
A Fine Balance
By Rohinton Mistry

With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.
As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state. (Description taken from Amazon)

#6 on the list is:
By George Orwell

Orwell's final novel, 1984, is the story of one man's struggle against the ubiquitous, menacing state power (“Big Brother”) that tries to dictate nearly every aspect of human life. The novel is a classic in anti-utopian fiction, and a trenchant political satire that remains as relevant today as when it was first published. (Description taken from Barnes and Noble)

#7 on the list is:
Gone with the Wind
By Margaret Mitchell

A monumental classic considered by many to be not only the greatest love story ever written, but also the greatest Civil War saga.

Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind is the bestselling novel of all time, and her unforgettable characters have become American icons. The New York Times Book Review proclaimed Mitchell's masterpiece to be "beyond a doubt one of the most remarkable first novels produced by an American writer. It is also one of the best." (Description taken from Barnes and Noble)

The Rogue Reader

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