Celebrate Books & Authors in February



Classic books, 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 February. Have you read these classics?

Feb. 1, 1962Ken Kesey’s first novel was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It is set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital and narrated by a patient who claims to be unable to hear or speak. One patient, Randle Patrick McMurphy, pretends to be insane to avoid prison. The psychiatric ward is under the authority of the cold, heartless Nurse Ratched. McMurphy stands up to her and makes all kinds of trouble. He encourages the other patients to do the same, which ends in tragedy. Jack Nicholson starred in the film and won an Academy Award for the part.

February 1980The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum is the first in a trilogy that includes The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. The book features Jason Bourne, a man with amnesia who is trying to find out about his life and why people keep trying to kill him. The trilogy has been adapted into films starring Matt Damon. After Ludlum’s death, his estate brought in Eric Van Lustbader to continue the Bourne series. Starting with the 15th installment, Brian Freeman began to write the Bourne novels. The latest book is #18, The Bourne Defiance.



These authors are celebrating birthdays in February. 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.

book cover of "The Final Curtain" by Keigo Higashino
Keigo Higashino

Keigo Higashino was born in Osaka, Japan, on Feb. 4, 1958. Higashino's family was poor, and he escaped reality by immersing himself in books. While in high school, Higashino began writing. He graduated from Osaka Prefecture University with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering. In 1981, he married, and began work as an engineer for the auto parts firm Nippon Denso. While there, he wrote nights and weekends and started submitting novels to be published. In 1985, his third novel won the Edogawa Rampo Award and was published. With this success, Higashino quit his job to become a full-time writer. Higashino continued to win awards for his writing, quickly becoming a best-selling author in Japan and throughout Asia. Many of his novels have been adapted for television and film. In 2011, he had his first novel translated into English, The Devotion of Suspect X. It became the first book in the Detective Galileo series to be published in English. Detective Galileo is the nickname the cops give to Dr. Manabu Yukawa. Higashino wanted to bring his science background into his mystery novels but knew the police wouldn’t ask a physics professor for help in every case. To have him be involved in criminal investigations, Higashino made the professor’s close college friend the homicide detective Shunpei Kusanagi. Higashino’s other popular series was translated into English in 2014, beginning with Malice, featuring police detective Kyoichiro Kaga. Higashino’s newest novel is the fourth book in the Kaga series, The Final Curtain. (Higashino photo from AsianWiki)


book cover of "Slay" by Laurell K. Hamilton
Laurell K. Hamilton

Laurell K. Hamilton was born Laurell Kaye Klein in Heber Springs, Ark., on Feb. 19, 1963. Her father soon left, and her mother Suzie took them to live with her parents in Sims, Ind. When Hamilton was six, her mother died in a car crash, and her uncle took her to see her mother’s crumpled car. This began a fascination with the darker sides of life. Hamilton’s grandmother, Laura Gentry, introduced her to vampires with ghost stories from the hills of Arkansas where Gentry grew up. Hamilton began reading horror stories as a teenager which piqued her interest in monsters. All of this inspired Hamilton to become a fantasy writer. Hamilton earned degrees in English and biology at Marion College, now Indiana Wesleyan University. While there, she met and married computer scientist Gary Hamilton, and they have one daughter named Trinity. The family relocated to St. Louis, and Hamilton worked as an editor for Xerox while writing in the mornings before work. Her first novel did not receive favorable reviews. Her next book was part of the Star Trek: Next Generation series, and Star Trek fans approved. In 1993, her third novel, Guilty Pleasures, earned great reviews and so began the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. In 2000, she began writing the Meredith (Merry) Gentry series, about a faerie hiding out in Los Angeles who becomes a private detective. In 2001, Hamilton married Jonathan Green, whom she became friends with at a sci-fi fantasy convention in 1993 while he was still in high school. He has collaborated on several of her projects, including Marvel comic book versions of the Anita Blake series. Hamilton’s newest novel, Slay, is the thirtieth book in the series. (Hamilton photo from the author's website)


Bernard Cornwell
book cover of "Uhtred's Feast" by Bernard Cornwell

Bernard Cornwell was born in London on Feb. 23, 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother was in the British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. The Wiggins family in Essex, England adopted Bernard along with five other children. They were part of a fundamentalist religious sect known as the Peculiar People, which was started by a Wesleyan Methodist minister in 1837. Cornwell graduated with a bachelor's degree from London University and was briefly a teacher. He had a 10-year career in television, working for the BBC in London and Belfast, Northern Ireland. When Cornwell was working in Belfast, he met an American travel agent named Judy Acker. In 1980, he moved to the United States and married Judy. He couldn’t get a green card so decided to write novels since it didn’t require a work permit. As a child, Cornwell always enjoyed C.S. Forrester’s Horatio Hornblower adventures. It frustrated him that he couldn’t find more novels on the Napoleonic wars, so he decided to write some. In 1981, he published his first novel in the Richard Sharpe series. It was extremely successful and turned into a popular television series. Starring Sean Bean, it originally ran from 1993-1997, but more episodes were added in the 2000s. Another series of his books were adapted for television. The Last Kingdom lasted five seasons, first on BBC and then on Netflix. In between writing Sharpe novels, he wrote four other series, a nonfiction book about Waterloo, and many stand-alone novels. He has sold 35 million copies of his books in 23 languages. Cornwell and his wife split their time between Cape Cod and Charleston, S.C. He enjoys sailing and the theatre. The latest novel in the Sharpe series is Sharpe’s Assassin: Richard Sharpe and the Occupation of Paris, 1815. Cornwell is currently writing the 23rd installment, Sharpe’s Command. Cornwell's newest book is Uhtred's Feast: Inside the World of The Last Kingdom. It concludes the series with three short stories and over sixty recipes. (Cornwell photo by Sarah Sierszyn from Wikimedia Commons)


Factual information from Gale: Biography in Context and the author websites of Eric Van Lustbader, Brian Freeman, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Bernard Cornwell.

By BethN on February 1, 2024