Monday, March 21, 2011

Classic Novels of TIME's 100 Best Novels List

Hello everyone! In preparation for our "Revival of the Classics" event happening April 15th, we're going to take a look at a few of our favorite classics. We took a look at Time's 100 Greatest Novels list, which you can find here, and chose some recommendations just for you!

The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby is considered to be the "Great American Novel," set in the 1920's where wealth was power and everyone was trying to make connections. Nick Carraway, a young World War I vet and the narrator, moves to Long Island next to his cousin, the beautiful, if ditzy, Daisy. When Daisy, Nick and Tom (Daisy's husband) show up at a grand party held by the mysterious Gatsby, things become complicated for everyone involved. This novel is a personal favorite, as F. Scott Fitzgerald's enchanting writing offers something everyone can relate to. On the surface, this novel seems to be almost a middle-school romance, but as the reader delves into the world of Nick, Gatsby, Tom and Daisy, The Great Gatsby explores issues of loss, love, and the quintessential American dream. (Did you know? The Great Gatsby is being made into a 3D movie… More info to come on our Facebook Page!)

Nabakov's Lolita is written in beautiful prose that lets the reader become completely engrossed in the novel, which in my opinion is a true mark of a classic. Humbert Humbert is a distinguished man who is fixated on "nymphets," young girls upon which he fantasizes about. When Humbert moves to New England, his landlord's daughter, Lolita, sparks an obsession within Humbert so strong that he becomes completely enthralled with her. Neither Humbert nor Lolita could be prepared for the whirlwind romance that leads them across the country. This book is known for the emotional attachment the reader gains toward the characters; Lolita is a masterful piece I would recommend to anyone (above the age of eighteen, of course!).

The French Lieutenant's Woman
John Fowles brings to life a tale of Sarah Wodruff, a woman who has been exiled by Victorian England. Marked as a whore, the rumors told that Sarah had an affair with a married French naval officer who promptly left her. A wealthy gentleman takes notice of Sarah, and a forbidden romance begins to blossom. Written in Victorian prose and taking a critical eye to Victorian society, Fowles spins a story that leaves readers thinking after they finish the novel's 3 plausible endings. The French Lieutenant's Woman is wrought with interesting plot twists, literary challenges and unforgettable characters, making it one of my favorite classics.

Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger is without a doubt one of the key authors that remain an authentic voice of the youth. The story of Holden Caulfield, a rebellious teenager in the 1950's, speaks to young people who read it still 60 years later. Fraught with themes of alienation, sexuality, and confusion, Catcher in the Rye is the quintessential teen angst novel. As Holden goes on a self-searching journey through New York City, we start to connect to feelings and changes we have all gone through. An iconic classic, Catcher in the Rye is a must-read for anyone who has ever been young and felt a little lost.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Though most would recognize this title from the iconic Jack Nicholson movie adaptation, Ken Kesey's novel is one of my favorite classics. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest follows the story of Randle Patrick McMurphy, who lands himself in a mental hospital, faking insanity to get out of jail. As the patients get caught up in McMurphy's rambunctious fun, the careful eye of the tyrannical Nurse Ratched becomes more keen and unforgiving. Drawing on Kesey's own experiences with mental hospitals, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest challenges everyone's sanity and leaves the reader pondering the human mind.

Recommendations made by Jill, the Spring Intern at the Boulder Book Store. Need more recommendations? Find me on Twitter at @JillLovesCoffee!


  1. I'm actually reading my way through the list right now, and I really enjoyed The French Lieutenant's Woman. I wrote a review of it here, check it out!

  2. Don’t feel bad about not having read some of the classics, you still have plenty of time.
    Nobody will regret not having read “Moby Dick” or “War and Peace” once they’re dead. But when you are 80 and alive and there is nothing good left to be read, you might regret having rushed through all these volumes earlier.
    Take your time throughout life with good books: