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Summer of Classic Reading

abstract:BookBuffet kicks off a summer of classic reading. Join us this summer and win free books for your book group in September!


July 06, 2003
— Everyone has a list of books they've always meant or wanted to read, and summer is the perfect time to "catch up". Here's our shortlist of must-read classic books for this summer.


Caveat Reader: Classics is a broad category that includes everything from Greek and Roman literature to works by contemporary writers. The common denominator is that each book has been read and enjoyed by generations and have stood the test of time.


Join us in our summer of classic reading and win free books* for your book group this September!


The Odyssey

By Homer

Translated Robert Fitzgerald

Introduction by Seamus Heaney

Farrar Straus Giroux


Love. Adventure. Danger. Treachery. Heroic (and not quite so) acts of brawn and brain. Homer's epic tale of Odysseus and his ten-year journey home after the Trojan War forms one of the earliest and greatest works of Western literature as well as the prototypical journey tale.


The Tale of the Genji

By Murasaki Shikibu

Translated by Royall Taylor

Viking Press


Written over 1,000 years ago, The Tale of the Genji is the world's oldest novel, and is considered a masterpiece. The epic narrative chronicles 75 years of the imperial court life in medieval Japan. The tempestuous nature, family circumstances, love affairs, alliances, and shifting political fortunes of Genji, the "Shining Prince," form the core of this remarkable novel. Detailed notes, glossaries, character lists, and chronologies aid the reader in navigating the multigenerational narrative and its references.

  • Tale of the Genji Home Page: Pacific University Asian Studies Department has put together a website for appreciating and understanding the novel. Of special interest is the page on "The Cultural Significance," which will provide readers with insight into the novels era.


The Pickwick Papers

By Charles Dickens

Introduction by James Kinsley



Forget "bleak", and put aside any "expectations" when you pick up Charles Dickens laugh-out loud satirical masterpiece, The Pickwick Papers. The novel is a loose collection of stories about the misadventures of Samuel Pickwick and his friends, the members of the "Pickwick Club," and reveals that Dickens was first and foremost an entertainer.

  • Charles Dickens Web: Great resources on Dickens and his works as well as links to Dickens societies worldwide.


Anna Karenina

By Leo Tolstoy

Translated by Constance Garnett

Introduction by Mona Simpson

Modern Library


"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." So begins Tolstoy's classic tale of love, infidelity, and retribution set against the glittering backdrop of late nineteenth-century high society Moscow and St. Petersburg. A rich and complex masterpiece, the novel charts the disastrous course of a love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer.


To the Lighthouse

By Virginia Woolf

Introduction by Eudora Welty



As with Virginia Woolf's other great work, Mrs. Dalloway, this extraordinary novel is told in a stream-of-consciousness style, and its subject is deceptively simple: the daily life of an English family and their friends at a summerhouse in the Hebrides. Yet the novel's themes are profound, concerned with the passage of time, the nature of human consciousness, and the process of artistic creativity. In her introduction, Eudora Welty wrote: "[H]ere is a novel to the last degree severe and uncompromising. I think that beyond being about the very nature of reality, it is itself a vision of reality."


Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Zora Neale Hurston

Afterword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 



"I have been in sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands."  — Zora Neale Hurston


When folklorist and writer Zora Neale Hurston published her second novel (in 1937), she outraged fellow Harlem Renaissance writers for using dialect in her story about Janie Crawford, a black woman in the 1930s who sets out on a quest for identity that takes her through three marriages and on a journey back to her roots. Today, Hurston's novel is widely admired and has influenced authors such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison.

  • Reading Guide to Their Eyes Were Watching God: Available online from the publisher.
  • Voices from the Gaps: University of Minnesota Women Writers of Color has a page dedicated to Zora Neale Hurston that offers a biography, criticism, links to other websites, and an e-mail link to Hurston's niece Lucy, who is an ethnographer and public speaker.


The Collected Novellas of Gabriel García Márquez

By Gabriel García Márquez

Translated by Gregory Rabassa and J. S. Bernstein



Considered by many to be one of the pioneers of Latin American literature, Gabriel García Márquez has been described as the "master of magic realism". From the Nobel Prize-winning author of the celebrated One Hundred Years of Solitude, here are three novellas published early in his career: Leaf Storm, Márquez's first novella, introduces the mythical village of Macondo, a desolate town beset by torrents of rain, where a man must fulfill a promise made years earlier; No One Writes to the Colonel is a novella of life in a decaying tropical town in Colombia with an unforgettable central character; and Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a dark and profound story of three people joined together in a fatal act of violence.

  • BookBuffet Author Profile: Includes bibliography and film adaptations as well as recommended resource links to biography, criticism, reading guides, and information on magical realism.


Summer of Classic Reading Promotion

*Register anytime during our Summer of Classic Reading—from July 6 through August 31—to be entered into a random drawing to win a set of 10 copies of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Winners will be notified by e-mail in early September.


Go "Back to School" in September with the one of the most famous teachers in literature—Miss Jean Brodie!


The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

By Muriel Spark



Miss Brodie strives to bring out the best in each of her girls, and to instill in each an independence, passion, and ambition surpassing her own. "Safety does not come first," Miss Brodie advises her girls. "Goodness, Truth and Beauty come first. Follow me." And they do. But one of her girls will betray her. Muriel Spark's elegantly styled story of a young, unorthodox teacher and her special—and ultimately dangerous—relationship with six of her students in 1930s Scotland is a modern classic.



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