Summer School

In a new weekly series, Salon takes on the classics you always meant to read -- but never did.

Topics: Books,

Let’s face it: There’s never enough time to read everything we’d like. We carry around in our heads a list of books we’ve meant to pick up for years — those great novels and works of nonfiction we were never assigned in school (“The Education of Henry Adams”), or skimmed (“Animal Farm”), or slept through (“The Scarlet Letter”). We’d like to tackle one of those big, important classics (“Ulysses,” anyone?), but there are great new books to read … and some of those oldies are just so damn long!

Thinking about the gaps in our own literary educations, we wondered: What books have other people missed? So, to complement our list of great summer fiction, we are launching a new series called Summer School, in which some of our favorite writers will choose a book he or she had always intended to read, but hasn’t — until now — and write about it. We’re not setting out to topple the canon; we simply want to explore whether some of these Great Works really carry the impact we were always told they did. We hope you enjoy finding out, too.

Each Monday through August, we’ll offer another piece to further your knowledge of great literature. See below for the full summer syllabus:

6/13: “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy

6/20: “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte

6/27: “The Wapshot Chronicle” by John Cheever

7/4: “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu

7/11: “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy

7/18: “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli



7/25: “Little Dorrit” by Charles Dickens and “Jekyll and Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson

8/1: “The Wings of the Dove” by Henry James

8/8: “Lost Illusions” by Honore de Balzac

8/15: “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding

8/22: “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert

8/29: “In Search of Lost Time” by Marcel Proust

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