Classics I Forgot To Read

The Classics I Forgot To Read Book Club

In choosing our classics we've tried to select titles that had some visibility among readers, but were not necessarily included in the standard high school English class. We've also sampled a range of genres, from mystery to comedy to stream-of-consciousness. So, whether our picks are already gathering dust on your bookshelves or this is your first encounter with the literary canon, we encourage you to join us!

Meets the last Wednesday of each month at 7:30 PM

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ISBN: 9780618056811
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Published: Mariner Books - May 25th, 2000

April 2015 Selection: With his U.S.A. trilogy, comprising THE 42nd PARALLEL, 1919, and THE BIG MONEY, John Dos Passos is said by many to have written the great American novel. While Fitzgerald and Hemingway were cultivating what Edmund Wilson once called their own little corners, John Dos Passos was taking on the world

ISBN: 9780812972580
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Published: Modern Library - April 27th, 2004

March 2015 Selection: Set in 1885, The Ox-Bow Incident is a searing and realistic portrait of frontier life and mob violence in the American West. First published in 1940, it focuses on the lynching of three innocent men and the tragedy that ensues when law and order are abandoned. The result is an emotionally powerful, vivid, and unforgettable re-creation of the Western novel, which Clark transmuted into a universal story about good and evil, individual and community, justice and human nature. As Wallace Stegner writes, [Clark's] theme was civilization, and he recorded, indelibly, its first steps in a new country.

By Paul Bowles, Tobias Wolff (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780062351487
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Published: Ecco Press - September 9th, 2014

February 2015 Selection: The Sheltering Sky is a landmark of twentieth-century literature. In this intensely fascinating story, Paul Bowles examines the ways in which Americans' incomprehension of alien cultures leads to the ultimate destruction of those cultures.

A story about three American travelers adrift in the cities and deserts of North Africa after World War II, The Sheltering Sky explores the limits of humanity when it touches the unfathomable emptiness and impassive cruelty of the desert.

ISBN: 9780375757266
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Published: Modern Library - May 8th, 2001

January 2015 Selection: Much more than a summary of home interiors, this collection is more like a reflection on the interrelation between humankind and its habitat. No longer content with simply occupying standardized spaces, people are now, more than ever before, seeking to imbue their dwellings with their own distinctive personality. This collection is comprised of homes as diverse and eclectic as the people who live in them, or the architects who designed them; including an ample selection of apartments, lofts, houses and studios that reflect the forward-looking lifestyles and domestic aesthetics of a new century. Minimalist environments, sensual and intimate spaces, and spacious, light-filled homes are all included, with full-colour photographs and the architects' own drawings and floor plans.

By Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev, Jane Costlow (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780451529695
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Published: Signet Book - February 2005

December 2014 Selection: Bazarov--a gifted, impatient, and caustic young man--has journeyed from school to the home of his friend Arkady Kirsanov. But soon Bazarov's outspoken rejection of authority and social conventions touches off quarrels, misunderstandings, and romantic entanglements that will utterly transform the Kirsanov household and reflect the changes taking place all across nineteenth-century Russia.
"Fathers and Sons" enraged the old and the young, reactionaries, romantics, and radicals alike when it was first published. At the same time, Turgenev won the acclaim of Flaubert, Maupassant, and Henry James for his craftsmanship as a writer and his psychological insight. "Fathers and Sons" is now considered one of the world's greatest novels.
A timeless depiction of generational conflict during social upheaval, it vividly portrays the clash between the older Russian aristocracy and the youthful radicalism that foreshadowed the revolution to come--and offers modern-day readers much to reflect upon as they look around at their own tumultuous, changing world.
Introduction by Jane Costlow

By Joseph Conrad, Allan H. Simmons (Editor), J. H. Stape (Notes by)
ISBN: 9780141441610
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Published: Penguin Books - December 2007

October 2014 Selection: Jim, the first mate aboard the Patna, dreams youthful dreams of heroism and of the daring act that will prove his courage. But when the Patna collides with a mysterious obstacle, Jim panics and jumps free. This act of cowardice drives him to exile as a white trader in the remote tropical outpost of Patusan.

By John Steinbeck, Robert Demott (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780143039471
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Published: Penguin Books - August 2008

September 2014 Selection: In Monterey, on the California coast, Sweet Thursday is what they call the day after Lousy Wednesday, which is one of those days that are just naturally bad. Returning to the scene of Cannery Rowathe weedy lots and junk heaps and flophouses of Monterey, John Steinbeck once more brings to life the denizens of a netherworld of laughter and tearsafrom Fauna, new headmistress of the local brothel, to Hazel, a bum whose mother must have wanted a daughter.

By Henri Barbusse, Robin Buss (Translator), Jay Winter (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780143039044
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Published: Penguin Books - August 31st, 2004

August 2014 Selection: Based on his own experience of the Great War, Henri Barbusseas novel is a powerful account of one of the greatest horrors mankind has inflicted on itself. For the group of ordinary men in the French Sixth Battalion, thrown together from all over France and longing for home, war is simply a matter of survival, lightened only by the arrival of their rations or a glimpse of a pretty girl or a brief reprieve in the hospital. Reminiscent of classics like Hemingwayas A Farewell to Arms and Remarqueas All Quiet on the Western Front, Under Fire (originally published in French as La Feu) vividly evokes life in the trenchesathe mud, stench, and monotony of waiting while constantly fearing for oneas life in an infernal and seemingly eternal battlefield.

ISBN: 9780679724766
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Published: Vintage Books USA - October 23rd, 1989

July 2014 Selection: First published in 1908, A Room with a View portrays the love of a British woman for an expatriate living in Italy. Caught up in a world of social snobbery, Forster's heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, finds herself constrained by the claustrophobic influence of her British guardians, who encourage her to take up with a well-connected boor. In the end, however, Lucy takes control of her own fate and finds love with a man whose free spirit reminds her of "a room with a view."

By Daniel Defoe, Virginia Woolf (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780375760105
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Published: Modern Library - June 11th, 2002

June 2014 Selection: Written in a time when criminal biographies enjoyed great success, Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders details the life of the irresistible Moll and her struggles through poverty and sin in search of property and power. Born in Newgate Prison to a picaresque mother, Moll propels herself through marriages, periods of success and destitution, and a trip to the New World and back, only to return to the place of her birth as a popular prostitute and brilliant thief. The story of Moll Flanders vividly illustrates Defoe's themes of social mobility and predestination, sin, redemption and reward.
This Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the 1721 edition printed by Chetwood in London, the only edition approved by Defoe.

By Ivo Andric, Lovett F. Edwards (Translator), William H. McNeill (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780226020457
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Published: University of Chicago Press - August 15th, 1977

May 2014 Selection: A vivid depiction of the suffering history has imposed upon the people of Bosnia from the late 16th century to the beginning of World War I, The Bridge on the Drina was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961. As we seek to make sense of the current nightmare in this region, this remarkable, timely book serves as a reliable guide to its people and history. No better introduction to the study of Balkan and Ottoman history exists, nor do I know of any work of fiction that more persuasively introduces the reader to a civilization other than our own. It is an intellectual and emotional adventure to encounter the Ottoman world through Andric's pages in its grandiose beginning and at its tottering finale. It is, in short, a marvelous work, a masterpiece, and very much sui generis. . . . Andric's sensitive portrait of social change in distant Bosnia has revelatory force. (William H. McNeill, from the introduction)Born in Bosnia, Ivo Andric (1892-1975) was a distinguished diplomat and novelist. His books include The Damned Yard: And Other Stories, and The Days of the Consuls.

ISBN: 9780375701962
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Published: Vintage Books USA - April 14th, 1998

April 2014 Selection: Winner of the 1961 National Book Award
The dazzling novel that established Walker Percy as one of the major voices in Southern literature is now available for the first time in Vintage paperback.
"The Moviegoer" is Binx Bolling, a young New Orleans stockbroker who surveys the world with the detached gaze of a Bourbon Street dandy even as he yearns for a spiritual redemption he cannot bring himself to believe in. On the eve of his thirtieth birthday, he occupies himself dallying with his secretaries and going to movies, which provide him with the "treasurable moments" absent from his real life. But one fateful Mardi Gras, Binx embarks on a hare-brained quest that outrages his family, endangers his fragile cousin Kate, and sends him reeling through the chaos of New Orleans' French Quarter. Wry and wrenching, rich in irony and romance, The Moviegoer is a genuine American classic.

ISBN: 9780375714795
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Published: Pantheon Books - November 6th, 2007

March 2014 Selection:


Set in the 1860s, "The Leopard" tells the spellbinding story of a decadent, dying Sicilian aristocracy threatened by the approaching forces of democracy and revolution. The dramatic sweep and richness of observation, the seamless intertwining of public and private worlds, and the grasp of human frailty imbue" The Leopard" with its particular melancholy beauty and power, and place it among the greatest historical novels of our time.


Although Giuseppe di Lampedusa had long had the book in mind, he began writing it only in his late fifties; he died at age sixty, soon after the manuscript was rejected as unpublishable. In his introduction, Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, Lampedusa's nephew, gives us a detailed history of the initial publication and the various editions that followed. And he includes passages Lampedusa wrote for the book that were omitted by the original Italian editors.

Here, finally, is the definitive edition of this brilliant and timeless novel.
"(Translated from the Italian by Archibald Colquhoun.)"

By Thomas de Quincey, Howard Marks (Introduction by)
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ISBN: 9780099528593
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Random House UK - November 27th, 2012

February 2014 Selection: The original drug memoir--a true 19th-century account of the pleasures and pains of addiction
Once upon a time, opium, the main ingredient in heroin, was easily available over the chemist's counter. The secret of happiness, about which philosophers have disputed for so many ages, could be bought for a penny, and carried in the waistcoat pocket--portable ecstasies could be corked up in a pint bottle.""Paradise? So thought Thomas de Quincey, but he soon discovered that "nobody will laugh long who deals much with opium."

ISBN: 9780307744203
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Published: Vintage - January 3rd, 2012

January 2014 Selection: Ford Madox Ford's masterpiece, a tetralogy set in England during World War I, is widely considered one of the best novels of the twentieth century.
First published as four separate novels ("Some Do Not . . ., No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up--, and The Last Post) "between 1924 and 1928, "Parade's End" explores the world of the English ruling class as it descends into the chaos of war. Christopher Tietjens is an officer from a wealthy family who finds himself torn between his unfaithful socialite wife, Sylvia, and his suffragette mistress, Valentine. A profound portrait of one man's internal struggles during a time of brutal world conflict, "Parade's End" bears out Graham Greene's prediction that "There is no novelist of this century more likely to live than Ford Madox Ford."

By Herman Melville, Joyce Carol Oates (Afterword by), Julian Markels (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780451530813
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Published: Signet Classics - June 2nd, 2009

November 2013 Selection: Featured in this rich collection are "Billy Budd," Melville's posthumously published novella; a chapter from Melville's masterpiece, "Moby-Dick;" and the short stories The Piazza, The Bell-Tower, and Bartleby, along with a new Introduction. Revised reissue.

By Kingsley Amis, Keith Gessen (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590175750
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Published: New York Review of Books - October 2nd, 2012

October 2013 Selction: Regarded by many as the finest, and funniest, comic novel of the twentieth century, "Lucky Jim" remains as trenchant, withering, and eloquently misanthropic as when it first scandalized readers in 1954. This is the story of Jim Dixon, a hapless lecturer in medieval history at a provincial university who knows better than most that "there was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones." Kingsley Amis's scabrous debut leads the reader through a gallery of emphatically English bores, cranks, frauds, and neurotics with whom Dixon must contend in one way or another in order to hold on to his cushy academic perch and win the girl of his fancy.
More than just a merciless satire of cloistered college life and stuffy postwar manners, "Lucky Jim" is an attack on the forces of boredom, whatever form they may take, and a work of art that at once distills and extends an entire tradition of English comic writing, from Fielding and Dickens through Wodehouse and Waugh. As Christopher Hitchens has written, "If you can picture Bertie or Jeeves being capable of actual malice, and simultaneously imagine Evelyn Waugh forgetting about original sin, you have the combination of innocence and experience that makes this short romp so imperishable."

ISBN: 9780441007318
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Published: Ace Books - July 2000

August 2013 Selection: Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards

A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can change their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.


ISBN: 9780679776444
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Published: Vintage - March 25th, 1997

July 2013 Selection: Since its publication in 1842, Dead Souls has been celebrated as a supremely realistic portrait of provincial Russian life and as a splendidly exaggerated tale; as a paean to the Russian spirit and as a remorseless satire of imperial Russian venality, vulgarity, and pomp. As Gogol's wily antihero, Chichikov, combs the back country wheeling and dealing for "dead souls"--deceased serfs who still represent money to anyone sharp enough to trade in them--we are introduced to a Dickensian cast of peasants, landowners, and conniving petty officials, few of whom can resist the seductive illogic of Chichikov's proposition. This lively, idiomatic English version by the award-winning translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky makes accessible the full extent of the novel's lyricism, sulphurous humor, and delight in human oddity and error.

ISBN: 9780307474001
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Published: Vintage Books USA - February 9th, 2010

June 2013 Selection: Nevil Shute's most beloved novel, a tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback.
Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, is captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven-month death march with dozens of other women and children. A few years after the war, Jean is back in England, the nightmare behind her. However, an unexpected inheritance inspires her to return to Malaya to give something back to the villagers who saved her life. But it turns out that they have a gift for her as well: the news that the young Australian soldier, Joe Harmon, who had risked his life to help the women, had miraculously survived. Jean's search for Joe leads her to a desolate Australian outpost called Willstown, where she finds a challenge that will draw on all the resourcefulness and spirit that carried her through her war-time ordeals.

By Emile Zola, Mark Kurlansky (Translator)
ISBN: 9780812974225
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Published: Modern Library - May 12th, 2009

May 2013 Selection: Part of Emile Zola's multigenerational Rougon-Macquart saga, The Belly of Paris is the story of Florent Quenu, a wrongly accused man who escapes imprisonment on Devil's Island. Returning to his native Paris, Florent finds a city he barely recognizes, with its working classes displaced to make way for broad boulevards and bourgeois flats. Living with his brother's family in the newly rebuilt Les Halles market, Florent is soon caught up in a dangerous maelstrom of food and politics. Amid intrigue among the market's sellers-the fishmonger, the charcutiere, the fruit girl, and the cheese vendor-and the glorious culinary bounty of their labors, we see the dramatic difference between "fat and thin" (the rich and the poor) and how the widening gulf between them strains a city to the breaking point.
Translated and with an Introduction by the celebrated historian and food writer Mark Kurlansky, The Belly of Paris offers fascinating perspectives on the French capital during the Second Empire-and, of course, tantalizing descriptions of its sumptuous repasts.

ISBN: 9780140430127
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Published: Penguin Books - August 30th, 1966

April 2013 Selection: Written between 1873 and 1884 but not published until 1903, a year after Butler's death, his marvelously uninhibited satire savages Victorian bourgeois values as personified by multiple generations of the Pontifex family. A thinly veiled account of his own upbringing in the bosom of a God-fearing Christian family, Butler's scathingly funny depiction of the self-righteous hypocrisy underlying nineteenth-century domestic life was hailed by George Bernard Shaw as "one of the summits of human achievement."

ISBN: 9780374531386
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Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - October 28th, 2008

February 2013 Selction: The first nonfiction work by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem "remains, forty years after its first publication, the essential portrait of America-- particularly California--in the sixties. It focuses on such subjects as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up a girl in California, ruminating on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, the heart of the counterculture.

ISBN: 9780375507250
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Published: Random House Trade - August 17th, 2004

January 2013 Selection: In his captivating third novel, Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre, and time to offer a meditation on humanity's dangerous will to power, and where it may lead.

By Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780143039983
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Published: Penguin Books - December 2006

October 2012 Selection: The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre
First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers-and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

By Anthony Trollope, Ed, David Brooks (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780375757310
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Published: Modern Library - August 14th, 2001

September 2012 Selection: Considered by contemporary critics to be Trollope's greatest novel, "The Way We Live Now" is a satire of the literary world of London in the 1870s and a bold indictment of the new power of speculative finance in English life. 'I was instigated by what I conceived to be the commercial profligacy of the age, ' Trollope said.
His story concerns Augustus Melmotte, a French swindler and scoundrel, and his daughter, to whom Felix Carbury, adored son of the authoress Lady Carbury, is induced to propose marriage for the sake of securing a fortune. Trollope knew well the difficulties of dealing with editors, publishers, reviewers, and the public; his portrait of Lady Carbury, impetuous, unprincipled, and unswervingly devoted to her own self-promotion, is one of his finest satirical achievements.
His picture of late-nineteenth-century England is a portrait of a society on the verge of moral bankruptcy. In "The Way We Live Now" Trollope combines his talents as a portraitist and his skills as a storyteller to give us life as it was lived more than a hundred years ago.