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.

Monday, January 26, 2009

February 2009--Passing

by Nella Larsen

If you could have a better life by pretending to be someone you're not, would you do it? That's one of the questions posed by this tense, elegant novella. As an African-American woman writing during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, Nella Larsen struggled with the issue of racial identity--its value, its liabilities, its ironies and tragedies. In Passing, two childhood friends meet after many years. Both seem to be thriving, one within the black community, the other as the supposedly white wife of a white man. As their lives and their roles become entangled, both women are put at risk. It's a simple enough plot, handled so deftly and elliptically that the reader comes away not with pat answers, but with a real sense of the contradictions and dilemmas that faced such women.

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