Booklists · Classic Novels
Justice and honor are celebrated in this story about Huck’s adventures on the Mississippi River with the runaway slave Jim.
Though the war he describes is World War I, Remarque writes eloquently of all wars in this tale of a young German sent to fight in the trenches.
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.
Short vignettes display irony and coincidence in everyday life. O. Henry’s forte is the surprise ending.
Huxley brilliantly satirizes contemporary society’s dehumanization in this grim novel of the future.
When his beloved master is killed, the dog Buck flees to the wild, where he becomes the leader of a wolf pack. Rousing adventure set in Alaska’s Klondike country.
This black comedy about World War II Army Air Corps aviators attempting to survive the absurdities of military bureaucracy has become a part of the American collective consciousness.
Fleeing his Pennsylvania prep school, Holden Caulfield holes up in New York City and rails against adult phoniness while trying to lose his innocence.
The Baker Street saga is chronicled in this collection that includes “A Study in Scarlet,” the 1887 story that introduced the English detective Sherlock Holmes, and his assistant Dr. Watson.
First published in Russian in 1866, this masterful psychological novel shows the horror and remorse of Raskolnikoff, a student, after he has killed an old woman for her money.
In lyrical language Paton relates the moving story of a Zulu minister who searches for his children in Johannesburg, only to learn that South African society has destroyed their lives.
Originally published in Spanish in 1605, Cervantes’ satire about a gentle visionary who becomes a knight after reading too many chivalric romances is a universal tale of idealism versus practicality.
An unhappy couple attempts suicide but find a far worse fate in this tale of irony and retribution in rural New England.
Set against the backdrop of Georgia during the Civil War, Mitchell’s massive historical novel chronicles the tempestuous romance of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara.
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.
Proletarian fiction at its finest, Steinbeck’s portrait of an Oklahoma family during the Depression spurred legislation to help stricken migrant workers.
Jay Gatsby has built an illegal empire to win the love of Daisy Buchanan, but his sacrifices for her prove to be his downfall.
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.
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’s ill-fated love for the brooding Mr. Rochester endures in this story of a strong-willed heroine who refuses to compromise herself.
A group of English schoolboys, marooned on a tropical island during a time of atomic warfare, bring both civilization and savagery to their community.
Captain Ahab’s obsessive struggle to defeat Moby Dick, the great white whale who maimed him, is the focus of Melville’s masterpiece.
In spite of a life of hard work, Bohemian immigrant Antonia Shimerda is sustained by the healthy Nebraska soil and her warm-hearted brood of children.
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.
Ignorance is strength and peace is war in Orwell’s darkly imaginative vision of a future controlled by Big Brother and the Thought Police.
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.
George and Lenny, itinerant Depression-era farm laborers, have their dream of attaining the good life shattered on a troubled ranch in the the Salinas Valley in Steinbeck's monumental novella of social realism.
Santiago realizes the dream of catching a giant marlin, but he must battle the sharks for two days to bring his prize home.
A delightful comedy of marriage traces the courtship of Elizabeth and Darcy as they overcome his pride and her prejudice and fall in love.
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 a wartime machine.
Defoe’s novel about a castaway marooned for twenty-four years on a deserted island is an engrossing story of survival, civilization, and barbarism.
Hawthorne’s novel is a study of sin, guilt, and revenge. Adultress Hester Prynne must bear public humiliation but Roger Chillingsworth and Arthur Dimmesdale suffer equally.
Fifteen years later, the narrator remembers his boarding school roommate. The rivalry that tinged their friendship eventually leads to tragedy.
This classic story shows redemption for a lonely and bitter man in the form of a child who brings him love and hope.
The moral decay of the Old South is presented through the eyes of four members of the once prominent Compson family of Jefferson, Mississippi.
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.
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.
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.”
Tess is ruined when her father’s vanity forces her to seek the favors of rich relations, and her life becomes a study in the grim reality of her times.
An African-American woman in 1930s rural Florida finds freedom and self-knowledge through a personal journey encompassing three very different marriages.
Small town Alabama in the 1930s is the setting for this fine novel of a child’s brutal introdution to racial prejudice and adult injustice.
Stowe’s sentimental but realistic novel is often credited with heightening public awareness about the evils of slavery, thus hastening the Civil War.
An enormous cast of characters brings life to Tolstoy’s panoramic chronicle of Napoleonic Russia. Originally published in the 1860s.
Twenty-three stories of small town America show the characters’ spiritual dreams in conflict with society’s provincialism and materialism.
Catherine and Heathcliff are the tempestuous lovers in this tale of passion and revenge on the Yorkshire moors.
Need more suggestions? Email the Popular Library or contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you.