2020 Reading Challenge: Read a Classic That’s New to You

"In 2020, OPL invites patrons to take part in the reading challenge! For each challenge, OPL offers suggestions for titles to read or listen to. As you’re working through the challenge, feel free to tag @omahalibrary on Twitter, opens a new window, Instagram, opens a new window or Facebook, opens a new window to let us know which read you picked up this month!

With this challenge, OPL gives you a reason to finally read that classic book you’ve always meant to get around to.

“Classic” can be a broad term, and what some consider classics, others may not, so feel free to define the term as you prefer. We tried to steer clear of books that the average reader might have been assigned in high school, but everyone has different high school experiences. Due to some classics being difficult to initially get into, the first selection of each paragraph is also available as book club bags, opens a new window, so you can read them and discuss the themes and ideas with a group, if you choose.

"Turn of the Screw, opens a new window" by Henry James. A creepy and complex gothic novel with an unreliable narrator. Good if you want a slow building ghost story to read on a cold night. If you are interested in classic horror, we have many other selections including standards like "Frankenstein, opens a new window" by Mary Shelley, "Dracula, opens a new window" by Bram Stoker, and "The Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe,, opens a new window" or more obscure titles like "Carmilla, opens a new window" by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.

My Antonia, opens a new window" by Willa Cather. A Nebraska classic that reflects the experience of women on the plains in the 19th century. A bittersweet and moving coming-of-age story that shows our state’s history. If you would like to read more about our state and what it was in times past, try "A Lantern in Her Hand, opens a new window" by Bess Streeter Aldrich, "The Home Place, opens a new window" by Wright Morris, or "Miss Morissa: Doctor of the Gold Trail, opens a new window" by Mari Sandoz.

"Their Eyes Were Watching God, opens a new window" by Zora Neale Hurston. A character-driven and engaging story of an African American woman trying to live her life on her terms in 1930s Florida. A powerful book about facing racism from the outside, as well as gossip from the main character’s own community. If you are interested in other African American classics, consider "The Bluest Eye, opens a new window" by Toni Morrison, "Go Tell It on the Mountain, opens a new window" by James Baldwin, or "Native Son, opens a new window" by Richard Wright.

Here’s one for the mystery fans - "The Maltese Falcon, opens a new window"by Dashiell Hammet. The classic, gritty and bleak tale of twists, lies and murder. Classic detective fiction is also great for the snappy dialogue, so if you want a classic that moves a little faster than some of the others, you may want to try one out. If you want to try another classic whodunnit, there’s "The Thin Man, opens a new window" by Dashiell Hammett, "The Big Sleep & Farewell My Lovely, opens a new window" by Raymond Chandler, or "Double Indemnity, opens a new window" by James M. Cain.

Hopefully this list, opens a new window was helpful and you are able to find a "classic" that appeals to you. If you want some more ideas, fill out a custom reading list, opens a new window or ask at your local branch.

Starting April 1, 2020, once you complete the 2020 Reading Challenge, enter your reading log online or turn in your completed tracking sheet at your nearest OPL branch and pick up your button prize for completion. All submissions will be entered into a drawing for some fun literary-themed merchandise! All completed tracking sheets or online challenge form entries must be received by December 31, 2020, to be entered into the prize drawing.