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General Fiction Booklists


Heroes of Classical Literature: Adult Summer Reading

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Don Quixote
by Miguel de Cervantes Details
Widely regarded as the world's first modern novel, and one of the funniest and most tragic books ever written, Don Quixote chronicles the famous picaresque adventures of the noble knight-errant Don Quixote of La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through 16th-century Spain.
Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë Details
This 19th century British Novel charts the evolution of its independent titular character from young orphan to grown woman. She doesn't face off with any monsters, but takes on the adversity of social norms and expectations with zeal, and develops into the hero of one of the earliest modern novels - showing that anyone who can be themselves in a world at odds is a hero in their own right.
Le Morte D’Arthur
by Sir Thomas Malory Details
Here is another one everyone knows a little bit about, with dozens (if not hundreds) of books, movies and tv shows based on the story of King Arthur, it is impossible not to know something. This collection is over 500 years old, and stands as one of the greatest sources of material on the legendary King. All of his great sidekicks and villains are here in an arch of stories extending from his origin to death. If you've ever been interested in King Arthur this is the book to read.
Native Son
by Richard Wright Details
The protagonist of Wright's groundbreaking novel is hardly a hero, but that's the point. Bigger Thomas is a young African-American man in 1930s America who will never get a chance to be a hero. Thomas finds desperation, confusion, and fear behind every corner and reacts accordingly in a tragic series of events that continue to spark outrage and conversation decades after publication.
Scarlet Pimpernel
by Barroness Emmuska Orczy Details
This novel from the early 20th century recounts the tales of wealthy playboy turned vigilante Sir Percy Blakeney, as he seeks to right wrongs in the fallout of the French Revolution. An inspiration for Zorro and Batman (amongst many others), this story features sword fights, hidden identities, daring rescues, and a host of historical details, and if you like it you can follow up with one of the many sequels.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain Details
Huck is the ultimate American hero, taking on the realities of the world with simple wisdom and lively spirit. This work perfectly captures the coming of age of our country as Huck comes face-to-face with the truths of slavery, ignorance, violence, poverty, and a host of wild characters and adventures. Often associated with a younger audience but filled with riveting questions of human nature fit for any reader.
The Odyssey
by translated by Robert Fitzgerald Homer Details
Almost everyone has been introduced to the heroic adventures of Odysseus. This centuries old tale is at the heart of western literature, and it has stuck around so long for a reason, full of incredible gods, goddesses, and nonstop action. It has been inspiration for everything from James Joyce's tour de force novel Ulysses to the Cohen brothers' classic film O Brother Where Art Thou.
Updated 04/27/2015

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