Tag Archives: Classics

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow : book club discussion questions

A fuller review of the entire collection in which this story is found was published in a previous post. Remember, our discussion questions always contain spoilers. Is there a character who is the hero of this story, beyond being a protagonist? That is, do you identify with Ichabod, or Brom, or Katerina? Is there a romantic lead, […]

The Sketch-book of Geoffrey Crayon by Washington Irving: a review

The Sketch-Book of Geoffery Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving was revolutionary in its time, and I’ve meant to read or listen to it for a few years, but I feel its main appeal factors have been occluded by cultural change. I’d argue that it is not broadly interesting to a modern reader. It’s certainly a competently […]

Book club discussion questions for A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

These questions contain spoilers. To order the essay from the Gold Coast Library Service, click the cover to the left. Alternatively the text is on the web in various places. It is available in audio and is just under 25 minutes long. . . Questions At what point, for you, does the story turn?  There’s a conventional place where the […]

Around the World in 80 Days : book club discussion questions

These discussions questions contain spoilers! Jules Vernes’s books are often sold as children’s literature, particularly suited to boys. Given that the plot requires human sacrifice, gambling, and opium use, why do you think this is? Around the world in eighty days is written by an outsider, observing the British Empire. Verne’s view of the empire seems, nuanced, supportive of some actions and […]

A favourite of mine – Great Expectations!

Was there ever a novelist who created more memorable characters than Dickens?

Great Expectations is my favourite novel Dickens wrote. I first read it in high school and have recently read it again. I remember it got criticized for being too dark, apparently Dickens’ wrote it when he was in a depressed state of mind. I however think it is inspirational. For me it is about wanting to achieve greatness despite everything seeming to be beyond one’s reach. That’s my simple interpretation.

It is written in first-person which helps illustrate the protagonist’s coming of age, it follows Pip from orphan boy to gentleman. Pip is being brought up by his sister and her husband but this isn’t a loving family arrangement and he is sent to live with the rich Miss Harisham, an intriguing and somewhat crazy woman. Also living with Miss Harisham is Estella, a beautiful young girl who is being taught by Miss Harisham to use her beauty to torment the men around her. After a while Pip falls in love with Estella but Estella does show any desire for his affections. When Pip is offered an education inLondonhe eagerly accepts as he sees this as the opportunity he yearns for to become a man of means and worthy of Estella’s love. Once inLondonhe soon starts to look down upon his humble upbringing & when he learns that Estella has married he is both angered and saddened. He also finds out that the money for his education came from the dishonest earnings of a convict he once helped escape years earlier. This sends Pip into despair but it does help him understand the true value of life.

It really is a classic and if you have not read it you should. If you have read it I strongly encourage you to give it another read as you will probably get allot more out if it the second time around.

Jane Eyre vs Elizabeth Bennet

Who would win in a fight? It’s one of the great questions of classic literature – is Jane or Lizzie the better heroine? Is it the eponymous star of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, who overcomes a series of unfortunate events to snuggle up against the maimed Mr Rochester for her happy ending? Or is it […]

One flew over the cuckoos nest

One flew over the cuckoos nest is a book that will take you through a mental maze, quite literally. The novel by Ken Kesey is set upon Oregon asylum and follows the minds and behaviours of those within the facility, in particular the antics of the rebellious Randle Patrick McMurphy. Mr McMurphy is not like those within the facility. The narrator, the gigantic but docile inmate known as the “chief” discovers that Mr McMurphy is not mentally insane but rather he is a criminal. The novel itself is creatively different as it attempts to make the reader a real part of the story but also offers the reader an understanding of mental illness, the feeling of confusion and loss.

The Joy of Truly Massive Books

It’s classic month here on the blog, so, like the rest of the staff, I’ve been brushing up my classics, to share overlooked gems.  One thing I’ve noticed in our discussions, both on the blog and face to face, is that modern people like a classic that’s short.  Truth be told, they like all modern books […]

The Decameron discussion questions

It’s classics month on the blog, and so here are some discussion questions for reading groups who decide on the (admittedly daunting) task of reading The Decameron.      Each of the ten days of The Decameron has a distinct theme, and this colours the enjoyability of stories told on that day. Which day did you […]

So, what -is- a classic?

Our theme for the month is classics, so an obvious question is, “What makes a classic a classic?” Now, over in my online audiobook club, we’ve recently listened to a book with a really uninspiring title, called Literary Taste: How to Form It. That book’s author, Arnold Bennett, uses a chapter to take a crack at a definition of […]


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