As booksellers, we often overhear customers lamenting that they've always meant to read “that other Jane Austen novel,” or Graham Greene, or Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but just never found the time. We've tried to remedy that with our Classics I Forgot to Read Book Club by providing motivation and a welcoming space to share your thoughts.

In choosing our ‘classics’ over the past few years, we've tried to select titles that had some visibility among readers, but were not necessarily included in the standard high school English class. We've also sampled a range of genres, from mystery (The Long Goodbye) to comedy (Cold Comfort Farm) to stream-of-consciousness (To the Lighthouse). So, whether our picks are already gathering dust on your bookshelves or this is your first encounter with the literary canon, we encourage you to join us on the last Wednesday evening of every month for conversation about the classics.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

July 2007--The Quiet American

by Graham Greene

A short, bittersweet masterpiece about a young American spy and the havoc his idealism creates in Vietnam. Set in Saigon in the waning days of the French colonial regime, and told by a world-weary, obstinately uninvolved British journalism, the novel follows an American spy's ham-handed attempts to create a Third Force in Vietnam, juxtaposed with the love triangle between him, the journalist, and a Vietnamese woman. Greene combines the tension of a thriller with the depth and weight of classical tragedy. The Quiet American is timeless in its exploration of the costs of emotional alienation. Sadly, it's also once again timely in its expose of thoughtless U.S. foreign policy (though the current crop of Quiet Americans seems less innocent than Greene's.)