Don’t ask me why, but I decided the other day that I NEEDED to update my classics collection. For those who don’t know, I am actually not a huge fan of classic literature. I have only read a handful of things (somehow, I graduated high school without reading some major ones) and I have had some problems trying to pick them up on my own. But being a reader, and supporter of books and knowledge, I personally feel like there are some books that should absolutely be in every home (even if I have not currently read them).
Blame it on the Great American Read- a PBS special series dedicated to exploring America’s favorite novels- you can read more about that here – but I found that there are a number of classics that I do not own, that I want to. Thankfully, I found out about this little bookstore website called Thrift Books and was able to compile an essential list for only a few dollars a piece. I will say though, being that this is a thrift store online, the quality of the books are exactly what you would expect. The $3-$4 books are thrift books, and are in “good” or “acceptable” condition. Sometimes they show you an actual picture of what to expect, but sometimes- I have heard- you don’t even get the cover that is shown on the website. SO if you are one of those people who like to have specific covers, this may not be the place for you.
All the photos in this post are of the copies of the books that I received from Thrift Books. I will include the “grade” that I selected for each as a reference point.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes such as the friendship of a shared vision, and giving voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men has proved one of Steinbeck’s most popular works, achieving success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films. (via Goodreads)
Surprisingly, this was NOT on the list for Great American Read, though many other classics can be found on that list. For such a short book (112 pages), I never read it before, though I have heard many many things about it. For the most part, people rather enjoyed this short tale, and I thought that it would make a good (small) addition to my classics shelf.
I got this from Thrift Books for $4 in “Good” condition. The image on the website did match the copy that I received.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple is a classic. With over a million copies sold in the UK alone, it is hailed as one of the all-time ‘greats’ of literature, inspiring generations of readers.
Set in the deep American South between the wars, it is the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually, Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves. (via Goodreads)
This is one of the few classics (and books on TGAR) that I HAVE read. Granted, it was a very long time ago, and broken up over the course of a month or two due to it being a class assignment, but I know for sure that I have read it. I want to reread it, and see the movie or play as well. This book is featured on TGAR (The Great American Read) as one of the top 100 most loved books in America.
I got this from Thrift Books for $5 in “Very Good” condition. The image on the website did match the copy that I received.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
In what may be Dickens’s best novel, humble, orphaned Pip is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman — and one day, under sudden and enigmatic circumstances, he finds himself in possession of “great expectations.” In this gripping tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward, the compelling characters include Magwitch, the fearful and fearsome convict; Estella, whose beauty is excelled only by her haughtiness; and the embittered Miss Havisham, an eccentric jilted bride. (via Goodreads)
Even worse than The Color Purple, I read Great Expectations in 7th grade! It was soooooo long, but I know that the class read and finished it (I may not have finished the whole thing on my own but again, we talked about it in class). Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of anything about that book. We actually read a lot of really great, classic literature in that class, and I don’t remember really any of it! It is one of those books though that I have always wanted to revisit. Again, this book is featured on TGAR top 100.
I got this from Thrift Books for $4 in “Good” condition. The image on the website did match the copy that I received (though I am a little disappointed with the library stickers/barcode that is still on the book).
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The novel is set during World War II, from 1942 to 1944. It mainly follows the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp, who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home. (via Goodreads)
This is one of those classics that I have somehow never read! I remember looking at it at the library and being intimidated by how long it was, especially for a classic. After watching TGAR though, it seems like I might be able to get through it, since most of the people who talked about it described it as hilarious. I sprung for the new version of this book on the site, in hopes that it comes in the cover that I want.
I got this from Thrift Books for $16 in “New” condition. The image on the website did match the copy that I received.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.
J.D. Salinger’s classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. The novel was included on Time‘s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950’s and 60’s it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read.
Another fairly short classic, somehow I never got around to reading. This (for me) has one of the most iconic book covers, one that I can recall pretty quickly when mentioned. However, I never found the draw to read it, until watching TGAR. This book was one of the few that were featured in the show, that I changed my mind about. Now I really want to read it. It is actually the lone book that inspired this drive to get a few more classics on my shelf. Again, because of it’s iconic cover that I really kind love, I sprung for the “new” status, in order to better my chances of getting the cover I wanted.
I got this from Thrift Books for $9 in “New” condition. The image on the website did match the copy that I received.
And that’s all she wrote! Hopefully this satisfies my craving for classic books for a while. Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you want to read any of them? Want to know what other classics I have on my shelf? Let me know in the comments what you think of this haul!