Classic Novels – A Reading Checklist

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn [1884] By Mark Twain (FIC 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 (FIC REMARQ)
Though the war he describes in World War I, Remarque writes eloquently off all wars in this tale of a young German sent to fight in the trenches.


The Bell Jar [1967] By Sylvia Plath (FIC PLATH)
The heartbreaking story of a talented young woman’s descent into madness.


Beloved [1987] By Toni Morrison (FIC MORRIS)
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.


Brave New World [1932] By Aldous Huxley (FIC HUXLEY)
Huxley brilliantly satirizes contemporary society’s dehumanization in this grim novel of the future.


The Call of the Wild [1903] By Jack London (FIC LONDON)
When his beloved master is killed, the dog Buck flees into the wild, where he becomes the leader of a wolf pack. Rousing adventure set inAlaska’s Klondike country.


Catch-22 [1961] By Joseph Heller (FIC HELLER)
This black comedy is about World War II Army Air Corps aviators attempting to survive the absurdities of military bureaucracy.


The Catcher in the Rye [1951] By J.D. Salinger (FIC SALING)
Fleeing his Pennsylvania prep school Holden Caulfiend holes up in New York City and rails against adult phoniness while trying to lose his innocence.


The Chosen [1967] By Chaim Potok (FIC POTOK)
Friendship between two Jewish boys, one Hasidic and the other Orthodox, begins at a baseball game and flourishes despite their different backgrounds and beleifs.


The Color Purple [1982] By Alice Walker (FIC WALKER)
A young woman sees herself as property until another woman teaches her to value herself.


The Complete Sherlock Holmes [1936] By Arthur Conan Doyle (FIC DOYLE)
The Baker Street saga is chronicled in this collection that includes “A Study in Scarlet,” the 1887 story that introduced the English detective and his assistant Dr. Watson.


Crime and Punishment [1886] By Fyodor Dostoevsky (FIC DOLSTOY)
First published in Russian in 1866, this psychological novel shows the horror and remorse of a student after he has killed an old woman for her money.


Cry, The Beloved Country [1948] By Alan Paton (FIC PATON)|
A Zulu minister searches for his children in Johannesburg, only to learn that South African society has destroyed their lives.


Don Quixote [1612] By Miguel de Cervantes (FIC CERVAN)
Cervantes’ satire about a gentle visionary who becomes a knight after reading too many chivalric romances is a universal tale of idealism versus practicality.


Ethan Frome [1911] By Edith Wharton (FIC WHARTO)
An unhappy couple attempts suicide but find a far worse fate in this tale of irony and retribution in rural New England.


Fahrenheit 451 [1953] By Ray Bradbury (FIC BRADBU)
In a futuristic society, firefighters burn books to destroy the subversive ideas contained within their pages.


Gone With the Wind [1936] By Margaret Mitchell (FIC MITCHE)
Set against the backdrop the Civil War, Mitchell’s historical novel chronicles the tempestuous romance of Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara


The Good Earth [1931] By Pearl S. Buck (FIC 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.


The Grapes of Wrath [1939] By John Steinbeck (FIC STEINB)
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 (FIC FITZGE)
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 (FIC 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.


The House of Spirits [1982] By Isabel Allende (FIC ALLEND)
The story of the Trueba family in Chile, from the turn of the century to the violent days of the overthrow of the Salvador Allende government in 1973.


Invisible Man [1952] By Ralph Ellison (FIC ELLISO)
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 (FIC 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.


Look Homeward, Angel [1929] By Thomas Wolfe (FIC WOLFE)
A novel depicting the coming of age of Eugene Grant in rural North Carolina and his passion to experience life.


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.


Moby Dick [1851] By Herman Melville (FIC MELVIL)
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 (FIC CATHER)
In spite of a life of hard work, Bohemian immigrant Antonia Shimerda is sustained by the healthy Nebraska soil and her warm-hearted brook 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.


Night [1960] By Elie Wiesel (FIC WIESEL)
A searing account of the Holocaust as experienced by a 15.-year-old boy.


Nineteen Eighty Four [1949] By George Orwell (FIC ORWELL)
Ignorance is strength and peace is war in Orwell’s darkly imaginative vision of the future controlled by Big Brother and the Thought Police.


Of Human Bondage [1915] By W. Somerset Maugham (FIC MAUGHA)
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 (FIC STEINB)
George and Lenny, itinerant Depression-era farm laborers, have their dream of attaining the good life shattered on a troubled ranch in the Salinas Valley in Steinbeck’s novella of social realism.


The Old Man and the Sea [1952] By Ernest Hemingway (FIC HEMING)
Santiago realizes the dream of catching a giant marlin, but he must battle the sharks for two days to bring his prize home.


One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest [1962] By Ken Kesey (FIC KESEY)
A novel about the power struggle between the head nurse and one of the male patients in a mental institution.


A Passage to India [1924] By E.M. Forster (FIC FORSTE)
A young woman in British-ruled India accuses an Indian doctor of sexual assault.


Pride and Prejudice [1813] By Jane Austen (FIC 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 (FIC 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 wartime.


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.


The Scarlet Letter [1850] By Nathaniel Hawthorne (FIC HAWTHO)
Adulteress Hester Prynne must bear public humiliation but Roger Chillingworth and Arthy Dimmesdale suffer equally.


Selected Stories [1899 -] By O. Henry (FIC HENRY)
Short vignettes display irony and coincidence in everyday life. O. Henry’s forte is the surprise ending.


Selected Tales [1830-] By Edgar Allan Poe (FIC 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.”


A Separate Peace [1959] By John Knowles (FIC KNOWL)
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 (FIC ELIOT)
This classic story shows redemption for a lonely and bitter man in the form of a child who brings him love and hope.


The Sound and the Fury [1929] By William Faulkner (FIC FAULKN)
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 (FIC 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 (FIC DICKEN)
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.


Tess of the D’Urbervilles [1891] By Thomas Hardy (FIC HARDY)
Tess is ruined when her father’s vanity forces her to seek the favors of rich relations and she faces the grim realities of her time.


Their Eyes Were Watching God [1937] By Zora Neale Hurston (FIC HURSTO)
An African-American woman in 1930s rural Florida finds freedom and self-knowledge through a personal journey encompassing three very different marriages.


To Kill a Mockingbird [1960] By Harper Lee (FIC LEE)
Small town Alabama in the 1930s is the setting for this novel of a child’s brutal introduction to racial prejudice and adult injustice.


Uncle Tom’s Cabin [1852] By Harriet Beecher Stowe (FIC STOWE)
Stowe’s sentimental but realistic novel is often credited with heightening public awareness about the evil’s of slavery, thus hastening the Civil War.


War and Peace [1869] By Leo Tolstoy (FIC TOLSTO)
An enormous cast of characters brings life to Tolsty’s panoramic chronicle of Napoleonic Russia.


Winesburg, Ohio [1919] By Sherwood Anderson (FIC ANDERS)
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 (FIC BRONTE)
Catherine and Heathcliff are the tempestuous lovers in this tale of passion and revenge on the Yorkshire moors.