Seattle Picks: Short Classics
Annotation:Okonkwo’s greatest fear is not the forest, not savage beasts, not black magic, not even the white men who are taking over Nigeria. More than these, he fears himself. (181 pages)
Annotation:Imagine being convicted of a crime you did not commit, and thrown in a cell, far from your loved ones. This is the story of what is left to hold on to, when hope is dead. (197 pages)
Annotation:Who is Meursault, why has he killed a man he hardly knows, and why doesn’t he seem to care? Is life itself absurd, or is it just us? (160 pages)
Annotation: This heartfelt story of Edna Pontellier’s doomed search of personal fulfillment was considered so shocking in 1899, it almost ruined its author. (192 pages)
Annotation:Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Marlow knows: his journey up the Congo River in search of the exceptional Mister Kurtz inspired the film Apocalypse Now. (131 pages)
Annotation:He is a sick man, an unlikable man, true. But a madman? Judge for yourself, in the stark and unforgettable tale of literature’s first great anti-hero. (136 pages)
Annotation:His reputation ruined and his treasure stolen, an embittered weaver turns his back on a cruel world, only to find hope where least expected. (176 pages)
Annotation:It had been 84 days since the old man had caught anything when, far out in the deep Gulf Stream water, he is himself caught by a great and mighty fish. (93 pages)
Annotation:The young Buddha follows paths of deep piety, intense poverty and sumptuous wealth, but Nirvana awaits in a place beyond all these illusions. (119 pages)
Annotation:On holiday in Rome, Daisy just wants to have a little fun, but straight-laced Victorian society throws her to the lions. (83 pages) Also try James’s creepy The Turn of the Screw.
Annotation:“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” So begins the creepiest classic ever. (60 pages)
Annotation:Frankie, whose daddy calls her a great big long-legged 12-year-old blunderbuss, has decided to grow up and leave home with her sister; but in matrimony, three's a crowd. (153 pages)
Annotation:Pressed into service on a warship, a dashing sailor runs afoul of the letter of the law, and is cast on the merciless rocks of blind justice. (98 pages) Also try Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener.
Annotation:Sula and Nel, friends who share a terrible secret, are drawn apart by time, circumstance and the scruples of a society with little regard for either of them. (176 pages)
Annotation:Rebellious livestock abolish the dominion of their two-legged masters, only to find that “All Animals Are Equal, but Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.” (113 pages)
Annotation:An extra bowl of gruel, the warmth of hard physical work, a bit of shelter against the freezing wind: it was a good day in the Siberian prison camp. (158 pages)
Annotation:Lennie doesn’t know his own strength, and George little suspects the strength of their friendship, or the sacrifice it will demand of him. (124 pages) Also try The Red Pony and The Pearl.
Annotation:We’re all going to die, but who among us is ready to go? Ivan Ilych most certainly is not. Find out what he learns on this once-in-a-lifetime journey. (60 pages) Also try Hadji Murat and Master and Man.
Annotation:Northern lawyer Pudd’nhead can puzzle out the mystery of the Extraordinary Twins and the Secret Changelings, but just can’t make any sense of slavery. (143 pages)
Annotation:Robbery, shipwreck, torture, earthquake, syphilis, rape, slavery, cannibalism, murder: in this lively satire, “all’s for the best in this best of all possible worlds!” (144 pages)
Annotation:Was Mattie just a youthful infatuation, or the love of his life? The answer lies buried beneath the snows of the past. (200 pages) Try also Wharton’s Summer.
Annotation:Hungary, 1944: a Jewish boy manages to survive the worst that man can do to man, only to wonder what in this life could be worth the cost of survival. (109 pages)
A Shared List by Seattle Librarians
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Interested in reading the classics but don’t have time for War and Peace? Great Books come in all shapes and sizes. The following mini-masterpieces pack a powerful impact in under 200 pages.