Classic books are the ones you read for school or because they are on some list. Are they any good? Find out for yourself. Here are some classics that have publication anniversary dates in December. Have you read these classics?
Dec. 21, 1985: The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel is the third book in her Earth’s Children series. The series began with The Clan of the Cave Bear in 1980, which was also made into a movie, and ended with the sixth book, The Land of the Painted Caves in 2011. Selling more than 45 million copies worldwide, the series is set in Europe 30,000 years ago and depicts Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals coexisting.
December 1847: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë was first published under her pen name Ellis Bell. Wuthering Heights was her only novel and it has been adapted into film many times. Set on the windy moors of Yorkshire, the Earnshaw's and the Linton's lives are tragically intertwined. Catherine and Heathcliff are soulmates that can never be. Their tumultuous and obsessive relationship ends up ruining the families for the next generation.
December 1922: The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot is a very long poem published as a book. It is 434 lines long, written in five parts, and is considered Eliot’s best work. It has been republished many times both on its own and in anthologies. The poem loosely follows the Arthurian legend of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King with allusions to Hindu and Buddhist texts and Eliot’s own life.
These authors are celebrating birthdays in December. Have you ever read their books? If not, give one a try. If you have, make sure you've read their most popular book or series. Have you read all their books? Make sure you've read their latest.
James Lee Burke was born in Houston on Dec. 5, 1936. His father was an engineer and Burke grew up along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Missouri, which is where he met his wife in a Wordsworth class. He’s held several jobs nationwide as a pipefitter, surveyor, social worker, reporter, and English instructor at numerous colleges. He married his wife in 1960, and they have four children, including the crime writer, Alafair Burke. In 1965, Burke’s first book, Half of Paradise was published. He wrote two more books and then had a dry spell of 13 years. During the dry spell, Burke tried to sell The Lost Get-Back Boogie. After 93 rejections, he finally got a university press to publish it and it was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. In 1987, Burke published the first novel in his most popular series, The Neon Rain. The main character, Dave Robicheaux, is a homicide detective in New Orleans, a Vietnam veteran, and a recovering alcoholic. Four of Burke’s books have been made into films, two from the Robicheaux series. Burke has won two Edgar Awards and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He was also the recipient of a National Endowments for the Arts grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Pushcart Prize. Burke splits his time between Louisiana and Montana and enjoys fishing and playing guitar. His latest novel is Flags on the Bayou. In 2024, a book of short stories, Harbor Lights, will be published. (Burke image from Amazon)
Nancy Thayer was born in Emporia, Kan. on Dec. 14, 1943. Thayer earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English Literature from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She has two children from her first marriage, Josh and Samantha Wilde who is also a published author. Thayer married her second husband, Charley Walters, in 1984. She has taught at several colleges. In 1980, Thayer was almost 40 when she published her novel, Stepping, which was turned into a miniseries on BBC Radio. She has published about one novel every two years since 1980. Her books are standalone, except for one series called Hot Flash Club about four women of a certain age with unfulfilled dreams. Thayer mostly sets her novels in Nantucket, where she has lived full-time since 1987. She enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and five grandchildren. Thayer is involved in her local library as a trustee and friend. Her latest novel is All the Days of Summer. Her next book, The Summer We Started Over, is due out in May 2024. (Thayer image from Amazon)
Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago on Dec. 20, 1954. When she was young her family, including her parents and six brothers, frequently moved back and forth from Chicago to Mexico. Living in different places each time, left Cisneros with a feeling of displacement that influenced her writing. Cisneros’ mother instilled a love of reading, getting her daughter a library card before she could read. In her adolescence, Cisneros wrote poetry and stories and read voraciously. Finally, in 1966, Cisneros’ parents bought a small house in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in north Chicago. It was her experiences here that she would use in her most famous work. Cisneros graduated from Loyola University in 1976 with a bachelor’s in English and went on to the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop to earn her master’s in Fine Arts in 1978. When not writing, Cisneros was a high school teacher, a college recruiter and counselor for minority students, a literature director, a writer/artist in residence, and a guest professor at universities across the country. Cisneros’ major work was her second book, The House on Mango Street published in 1983. It took five years to complete and includes 44 short narratives about a 12-year-old Chicana girl named Esperanza as she learns about life in her Hispanic urban ghetto. Cisneros received an American Book Award for The House on Mango Street and it is on many required reading lists even today. Cisneros has won many awards and honors such as the National Medal of the Arts and a MacArthur Fellowship. Cisneros has written several works including short stories, novels, poetry, and a memoir. She started the Macondo Foundation, a writers’ workshop for activists. Her most recent work is Woman Without Shame: Poems. (Cisneros image from Gale: Biography in Context)