The Classics

You know the book(s) that you didn't read (but said you did) in high school? Clear your guilty conscience and enjoy!

Beowulf

 

Composed toward the end of the first millennium of our era, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and lives to old age before dying in a vivid fight against a dragon.

Pride and Prejudice

 

In Pride and Prejudice, the Bennet sisters try to find their way in the repressive strictures of 19th-century society. Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and the experience of falling in love, and she superbly describes a world which, despite being more than two centuries old, still resonates with modern concerns.

The Scarlet Letter

 

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, magnum opus, tells the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth two years after separation from her husband and is condemned to wear the scarlet letter A on her breast as punishment for her adultery. She resists all attempts of the 17th century Boston clergy to make her reveal the name of her child’s father while she struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity.

Purgatorio - The Divine Comedy

 

"Midway on our life's journey, I found myself in dark woods, the right road lost. To tell about those woods is hard - so tangled and rough...." So begins Dante Alighieri's epic poem of a journey through Hell. With the poet Virgil as his guide, Dante travels through the 9 circles of Hell, listening to the voices of the condemned until at last, "we came forth, and once more saw the stars."

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

 

Most fans of The Simpsons can distinguish Lenny from Carl without checking their hands. But only real fans recall the Eastern European equivalent of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, know the name of Barney Gumble's submission to the Springfield Film Festival, and have road tripped to the World's Fair in Knoxville. 100 Things The Simpsons Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is the ultimate resource for true fans, whether you comprehend at a Ralph Wiggum or Lisa Simpson level. Allie Goertz and Julia Prescott have collected every essential piece of Simpsons knowledge and trivia, as well as must-do activities, and have ranked them all from 1 to 100 in this entertaining book, which was just discarded from the shelves of The Android's Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop.

The War of the Worlds

 

First published by H. G. Wells in 1898, The War of the Worlds is the granddaddy of all alien invasion stories. The novel begins ominously, as the lone voice of a narrator intones, "No one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's."

 

Things then progress from a series of seemingly mundane reports about odd atmospheric disturbances taking place on Mars to the arrival of Martians just outside of London. At first, the Martians seem laughable, hardly able to move in Earth's comparatively heavy gravity, even enough to raise themselves out of the pit created when their spaceship landed. But soon the Martians reveal their true nature as death machines 100 feet tall rise up from the pit and begin laying waste to the surrounding land. Wells quickly moves the story from the countryside to the evacuation of London itself and the loss of all hope as England's military suffers defeat after defeat.

 

With horror, the narrator describes how the Martians suck the blood from living humans for sustenance and how it's clear that man is not being conquered so much as corralled.