In anticipation of our 125th anniversary celebration, the members of the staff of the Quincy Public Library have shared their favorite books encompassing all genres and age levels. Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting a few of those books. This week it is the much-loved classics -- the books that may have been required reading in high school, but have become like old friends you like to visit now and then.
"To Kill a
Top on the list is "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. This novel is so popular that it continues to receive accolades more than 50 years after its publication. Most recently librarians across the country voted it the best novel of the 20th century. Addressing such weighty topics as racism and bigotry with warmth, humor, honesty and integrity, Lee's story is as pertinent today as it was in 1960. Despite its value, "To Kill a Mockingbird" remains as one of the most challenged books in the school system for its racial overtones and language.
"East of Eden"
"The Grapes of Wrath"
John Steinbeck has the distinction of having two books on the staff's favorite list. "East of Eden" is set in the Salinas Valley in California where Steinbeck tells the story of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons. At times the book is loving and sincere, and other times cruel and vicious with plenty of plot and subplot twists. "The Grapes of Wrath" follows the Joad family as they are forced from their homestead and travel west to California in search of a new life during the Dust Bowl. Steinbeck evokes tremendous emotions in readers as he describes the pride and stoicism of this family that doesn't have much except for each other. In both of these novels, Steinbeck does a masterful job maintaining believable dialogue and dueling personalities with intricate plots designed to make the reader identify with the characters.
Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" is considered an anti-war book, but it is so full of satire and apathy about the war that readers may be confused. But that's OK because it's exactly the message Vonnegut was sending -- war makes no sense. Told alternately from the points of view of Billy Pilgrim and Kurt Vonnegut, "Slaughterhouse Five" is eccentric, passionate, baffling and humorous at the same time. No wonder it is one of the books most recommended to incoming college freshmen.
"The Hitchhiker's Guide
to the Galaxy"
While our final book may not be considered a classic in some circles, others would vehemently disagree with you. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams is the first book in the five-book series. Earth has just been destroyed to make way for an intergalactic freeway. Thanks to his friend, Ford Prefect, Arthur Dent was pulled off the planet in the nick of time. Now he is lost and making his way through the space-time continuum with nothing but his handy guide to the galaxy to show him how to survive in this new part of the universe. Adams' hilarious and hugely popular novel is a favorite for readers of all ages.
All of these books are available for checkout at the Quincy Public Library if you have a current Quincy or Tri-Quincy Area Public Library District card. Reciprocal borrowing cards from other area libraries will be honored as well. You may also place reserves on library materials and check your patron record online at www.quincylibrary.org.