Join a Virtual Book Club

young woman reading on a tabletIt’s the perfect time to join a book club – from home. The Classics Made Modern book group is going virtual on Facebook and Zoom so we can continue to connect and talk books, while we’re staying safe at home. We’ll also “meet” a little more often and we have room for lots of new members. Here are the highlights:

  • Every other week we’ll read and discuss a classic novel or classic short stories together.
  • All of the books are available freely in the public domain and readily available in various ebook and audiobook formats.
  • Be part of the discussion on Facebook and/or Zoom.
  • Flexibility for your changing schedule- for each title, we have two Zoom discussions, Tuesday evening or Wednesday afternoon.

Follow along in the library’s Facebook group for this discussion as we share quotes, memes, historical context, modern takes, factoids about the author’s personal life, strong opinions about the movie versions and trivia! Of course we will also interact, ask questions and discuss our thoughts about the book in the comments!

Upcoming Book Discussion Schedule

Every other Tuesday evening from 7-8 pm and the next day on Wednesday afternoon from 2-3 pm, we’ll meet in a video chat to discuss the book “face-to-face”! Attend either or both, whatever works for you! To sign up for the Zoom discussions, or if you have any questions – Email classicsmodern@tscpl.org.

 

  • Read One of Ours by Willa Cather, a novel of youth, the prairie, influenza, and war which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. This story of a Nebraska farm boy who dies fighting in France in World War I was a best-seller in its time. Cather based the plot on letters written by a cousin who had died in World War I.  This book is scheduled for reading across two sessions. We will focus on reading and discussing the first half (Book One, Book Two, and Book Three) at the July 6/7 discussions and then discuss the entire book, focusing on the second half (Book Four and Book Five) at the July 20/21 discussions. Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla.  Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg. Check out the book from the library collection. 
    • Tuesday, July 6, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, July 7, 2-3 pm
    • Tuesday, July 20, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, July 21, 2-3 pm
  • The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald is an influential Scottish children’s fantasy novel from 1872. Princess Irene is given a magical ring; Curdie is a boy who works in the mines; the goblins who live underground intend to kidnap Irene and marry her off to the goblin prince. The story begins as a normal fairytale but becomes stranger; it’s notable for bravery and symbolism. Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla. Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg. Check out the book or audiobook from the library collection. 
    • Tuesday, August 3, 2021 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, August 4, 2021 2-3 pm
  • The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux is a 1908 French mystery crime novel, from the author of The Phantom of the Opera. It is the first novel starring fictional detective Joseph Rouletabille, and concerns a complex and seemingly impossible crime in which the criminal appears to disappear from a locked room. Agatha Christie admired the novel and in her early years said she would like to try writing such a book. Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla. Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg.
    • Tuesday, August 17, 2021, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, August 18, 2021, 2-3 pm
  • A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains is a travel book, by Isabella L. Bird, describing her 1873 trip to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The book is a compilation of letters that Isabella Bird wrote to her sister, and relates the many hardships of the great western frontier, the unique characters she meets, and the incredible natural world she found in the newly settled western territories. Check out the ebook from Hoopla. Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg. Check out the book from the library’s collection. Audiobook versions are available including from librivox.
    • Tuesday, August 31, 2021, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, September 1, 2021, 2-3 pm
  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson is novel published anonymously in 1912 in order to suggest authenticity and then issued again under Johnson’s name in 1927 as a fictional autobiography. The story explores the intricacies of racial identity through the eventful life of its mixed-race (and unnamed) narrator.
    Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla. Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg. Check out the book from the library’s collection.

    • Tuesday, September 14, 2021, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 2-3 pm
  • The Admirable Crichton by J. M. Barrie is a 1902 comic stage play dealing with serious class issues that were controversial at the time, but not seriously questioning the status quo. In a classic satire about the changing fortunes of Crichton, the perfect butler, after an aristocratic family and their servants are shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island.
    Check out the ebook of the play from Hoopla. Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg. Audiobook versions are available online including from librivox.

    • Tuesday, September 28 2021, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, September 29, 2021, 2-3 pm
  • A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift is subtitled (For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick). This Juvenalian satirical essay was written and published anonymously by Swift in 1729. Swift’s essay is widely held to be one of the greatest examples of sustained irony in the history of the English language.  Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla. Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg.
    • Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 2-3 pm
  • Read selections from Edgar Allen Poe, specifically two short stories: “The Tell-Tale Hear”t and “The Cask of Amontillado”, and one narrative poem, “The Raven”.  
    Written in 1843, “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a dark and eerie tale of a man’s unhealthy obsession that leads him to commit murder. Will his paranoia get him caught?
    Written in 1846, “The Cask of Amontillado” is a powerful tale of revenge and is considered universally to be one of Poe’s best short stories. Montresor, the sinister narrator of this tale, pledges revenge upon Fortunato for an insult. Montresor intends to seek vengeance in support of his family motto: “Nemo me impune laces sit.” (No one assails me with impunity.)
    Perhaps Poe’s most famous work, The Raven was first published in 1845 in the New York Evening Mirror. Known for its tight rhymes, rhythm, and the repetitive response given by the eponymous raven-Nevermore-the poem focuses on that raven and a forlorn man who is distraught over his lost lover, Lenore.
    All three selections are widely available and frequently adapted and referenced in popular culture. Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla. Download the ebook including the stories from Project Gutenberg. Check out materials by or about Edgar Allen Poe from the library collection. 

    • Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 2-3 pm
  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran is a book of twenty six simple prose fables. This best-known work from the Lebanese-American poet and writer was published in 1923 and has become a token of free thought and intellectual betterment across many generations of readers. Each fable examines a different facet of the human experience. Gibran’s works, written in both Arabic and English, are full of lyrical outpourings and express his deeply religious and mystical nature.  Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla. Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg. Check out the book or audiobook from the library collection. 
    • Tuesday, November 9, 2021, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 2-3 pm
  • Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte is an autobiographical novel with strong parallels between its events and Anne Bronte’s own life as a governess. Written when women-and workers generally-had few rights in England, Agnes Grey exposes the brutal inequities of the rigid class system in mid-nineteenth-century Britain. After a reversal of fortunes in her middle-class home, Agnes begins working as a governess. She is teaching children of rich families, but she is unprepared for the harsh reality of a governess’s life.
    NOTE: Classics Made Modern is NOT meeting November 23/24 to give everyone more time to read this slightly longer selection.
    Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla. Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg. Check out the book or audiobook from the library collection. 

    • Tuesday, December 7, 2021, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, December 8, 2021, 2-3 pm
  • Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw was first presented on stage to the public in 1912. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party. The play is a sharp lampoon of the rigid British class system of the day and a commentary on women’s independence. Shaw’s play has been adapted numerous times, most notably as the musical My Fair Lady.
    Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla. Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg. Check out the book or audiobook or movie adaptation from the library collection. 

    • Tuesday, December 21, 2021, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, December 22, 2021, 2-3 pm

 

YOU are invited to this book group

We’ve got options to make this work for everyone!

  • If you haven’t ever read a classic that wasn’t assigned – we’re going to make this fun!
  • Short story options are less reading, but we still have plenty to discuss!
  • If you love reading but are looking for something a bit different – try one of these titles!
  • If you don’t want to discuss in video chat – participate in the online interaction, or call in to the discussion without video.
  • If you are a shy reader – simply follow along with the fun!
  • If you aren’t sure about this whole reading classics idea – check it out to see if any of these books or stories interest you!

Archive of Previous Titles

This book discussion group began in April 2020. Here’s what we have already read together:

  1. Wednesday April 22, 2-3 pm: Short Story Starters: The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  2. Wednesday April 29, 2-3 pm: Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  3. Wednesday May 13, 2-3 pm: Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
  4. Wednesday May 27, 2-3 pm: The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  5. Tuesday, June 9th, 7-8 pm: The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie
    Wednesday, June 10th, 2-3 pm: The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie
  6. Tuesday, June 23, 7-8 pm: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
    Wednesday, June 24, 2-3 pm: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  7. Tuesday, July 7, 7-8 pm: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
    Wednesday, July 8, 2-3 pm: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  8. Tuesday, July 21, 7-8 pm: Persuasion by Jane Austen
    Wednesday, July 22, 2-3 pm: Persuasion by Jane Austen
  9. Tuesday, August 4, 7-8 pm:”Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving
    Wednesday, August 5, 2-3 pm: “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving
  10. Tuesday, August 18, 7-8 pm: The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
    Wednesday, August 19, 2-3 pm: The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
  11. Tuesday, September 1, 7-8 pm:The Inimitable Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse  (we will pick several stories to focus on)
    Wednesday, September 2, 2-3 pm: The Inimitable Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse  (we will pick several stories to focus on)
  12. Tuesday, September 15, 7-8 pm: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    Wednesday, September 16, 2-3 pm: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  13. Grimms’ Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm
    • Tuesday, September 29, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, September 30, 2-3 pm
  14. Two classic Mark Twain short stories: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg
    • Tuesday, October 13, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, October 14, 2-3 pm
  15. Whose Body? A Lord Peter Wimsey Novel by Dorothy L. Sayers: a 1923 mystery novel about a nobleman who investigates as a hobby
    • Tuesday, October 27, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, October 28, 2-3 pm
  16. The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton, focusing on the first four stories from 1911
    • Tuesday, November 10, 7-8 pm,
    • Wednesday, November 11, 2-3 pm
  17. The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People by Oscar Wilde: an 1985 play and satire of Victorian ways
    • Tuesday, November 24, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, November 25, 2-3 pm
  18. “Bernice Bobs her Hair” by F. Scott Fitzgerald from the short story collection Flappers and Philosophers along with  “The Ice Palace,” “Head and Shoulders,” and “The Offshore Pirate.”
    • Tuesday, December 8, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, December 9, 2-3 pm
  19. The Four Million, by O. Henry including “The Cop and the Anthem” and “The Gift of the Magi”
    • Tuesday, December 22, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, December 23, 2-3 pm
  20. Short stories from Willa Cather’s 1920 collection Youth and the Bright Medusa including “Paul’s Case,” “The Sculptor’s Funeral,” and “A Death in the Desert”
    • Tuesday, January 5, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, January 6, 2-3 pm
  21. Short stories from Twice Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, originally issued in 1837 including “The Gentle Boy,” “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment,” “The Great Carbuncle,” and “Lady Eleanore’s Mantle”
    • Tuesday, January 19, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, January 20, 2-3 pm
  22. The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster
    • Tuesday, February 2, 7-8 pm
    • Wednesday, February 3, 2-3 pm
    • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
      • Tuesday, February 16, 7-8 pm
      • Wednesday, February 17, 2-3 pm
    • The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, specifically The Happy Prince, The Nightingale And the Rose, The Selfish Giant, The Devoted Friend, The Remarkable Rocket. Ebook and audiobook available from Hoopla.
      • Tuesday, March 2, 7-8 pm
      • Wednesday, March 3, 2-3 pm
    • Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis, discussing over two sessions. For the March 16/17 session, we will concentrate discussion on Chapters 1-25, and at the March 30/31 sessions we will discuss the entire novel concentrating on Chapters 26-30. Checkout the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla. Read the ebook from Project Gutenberg.
      • Tuesday, March 16, 7-8 pm
      • Wednesday, March 17, 2-3 pm
      • Tuesday, March 30, 7-8 pm
      • Wednesday, March 31, 2-3 pm
    • “When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis” by Annalee Newitz. This Sturgeon Award-winning short story, about a disease surveillance robot whose social programming gets put to the test, originally appeared on Slate, December 19, 2018, and was later anthologized in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 edited by Carmen Maria Machado and John Joseph Adams and Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow (2019) from Unnamed Press. Read the story on Slate’s website. A text and audio version are available from Escape Pod. This short story also appears in two print collections in the library’s collection.
      • Tuesday, April 13, 7-8 pm
      • Wednesday, April 14, 2-3 pm
    • The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne is a “locked room” whodunnit published in 1922. Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla.  Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg. Check out the book from the library collection. 
      • Tuesday, April 27, 7-8 pm
      • Wednesday, April 28, 2-3 pm
    • House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, published in 1905, reflects her intimate knowledge of the elitist New York society into which she was born and her judgment of that society.  This book is scheduled for reading across two sessions. We will focus on reading and discussing the first half, Book One, at the May 11/12 discussions and then discuss the entire book, focusing on the second half, Book Two, at the May 25/26 discussions. Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla.  Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg. Check out the book from the library collection. 
      • Tuesday, May 11, 7-8 pm
      • Wednesday, May 12, 2-3 pm
      •  Tuesday, May 25, 7-8 pm
      • Wednesday, May 26, 2-3 pm
    • Short Stories by Katherine Mansfield, specifically focusing on these four stories:
      “The Doll’s House” which shows how rigid social values and class consciousness are handed down from one generation to another.
      “The Daughters of the Late Colonel” which the author described as ‘the only story that satisfies me to any extent.’
      “The Garden Party” is considered Katherine Mansfield’s finest piece of short fiction. The story centers on Laura Sheridan’s response to the accidental death of a neighborhood workman.
      “Miss Brill,” Katherine Mansfield’s short story about a woman’s Sunday outing to a park. The story’s enduring popularity is due in part to its use of a stream-of-consciousness narrative in which Miss Brill’s character is revealed through her thoughts about others as she watches a crowd from a park bench.
      Check out the ebook or audiobook from Hoopla.  Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg. Check out the book from the library collection. 

      • Tuesday, June 8, 7-8 pm
      • Wednesday, June 9, 2-3 pm
    • Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper, was nominated for the 1963 Hugo Award for Best Novel. A prospector on the planet Zarathustra discovers intelligent small furry creatures. If they are sapient the planet will be declared a protected zone and the company that is developing the planet commercially will lose their exclusive rights to the resources. In 2011, John Scalzi published Fuzzy Nation, which he described as a “reboot” of Piper’s original. Check out the ebook from Hoopla.  Download the ebook from Project Gutenberg.  Download the audiobook from Librivox.
      • Tuesday, June 22, 7-8 pm
      • Wednesday, June 23, 2-3 pm

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book discussion leader, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, and frequent library customer. She loves her kids, being a librarian, living in Topeka, and helping people form connections and community. (She's the Community Connections Librarian!) She reads a new book every few days, but is enjoying the audiobook of "Empress of Forever" by Max Gladstone, the ebook "When We Were Magic" by Sarah Gailey and is eagerly awaiting John Scalzi's "The Last Emperox" in April!