Your classic read for January

The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sherriff

Retired teacher Edgar Hopkins lives for the thrill of winning poultry prizes. But his narrow world is shattered when he learns that the moon is about to come crashing into the earth, with apocalyptic consequences. The manuscript he leaves behind will be a testament - to his growing humanity and to how one English village tried to survive the end of the world...

 

Your classic read for February

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The first part of John le Carré's acclaimed Karla Trilogy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sees the beginning of the stealthy Cold War cat-and-mouse game between the taciturn, dogged George Smiley and his wily Soviet counterpart.

A mole, implanted by Moscow Centre, has infiltrated the highest ranks of the British Intelligence Service, almost destroying it in the process. And so former spymaster George Smiley has been brought out of retirement in order to hunt down the traitor at the very heart of the Circus - even though it may be one of those closest to him.

Your classic read for March

The Awakening by Kate Copin 

'The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude'
When 'The Awakening' was first published in 1899, charges of sordidness and immorality seemed to consign it into obscurity and irreparably damage its author's reputation. But a century after her death, it is widely regarded as Kate Chopin's great achievement. Through careful, subtle changes of style, Chopin shows the transformation of Edna Pontellier, a young wife and mother, who - with tragic consequences - refuses to be caged by married and domestic life, and claims for herself moral and erotic freedom.

 

Your classic read for April

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima

It is Spring. A young woman, left by her husband, starts a new life in a Tokyo apartment.  As the months come and go, and the seasons turn, she must confront what she has lost and what she will become. At once tender and lacerating, luminous and unsettling, Territory of Light is a novel of abandonment, desire and transformation. It was originally published in twelve parts in the Japanese literary monthly Gunzo, between 1978 and 1979, each chapter marking the months in real time.

 

 

Your classic read for May

Berlin Finale by Heinz Rein

April 1945, the last days of the Nazi regime. While bombs are falling on Berlin, the Gestapo are still searching for traitors, resistance fighters and deserters. People mistrust each other more than ever. Everyone could be a spy. Unsettling, raw and cinematic, Berlin Finale was published in Germany in 1947 and quickly became one of the first best-selling books of the post-war period. Newly translated eighty years later, it is ripe for rediscovery.

 

Your classic read for June

Nineteen eighty-four by George Orwell

With the 70th anniversary of 1984 on June 8th, it seems fitting to delve into this Orwellian classic. Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.

 

Your classic read for July

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

2018 marks 200 years since Emily Brontë’s birth and what better time to read her masterpiece of passion, romance and vengeance. Wuthering Heights is one of those stories better known in popular culture and hearsay than in real depth but it won’t take you long to feel immersed in the remote and creepy Yorkshire Moors in this dark and romantic classic. In the company of Heathcliff – an orphan turned spurned lover turned gentleman turned villain – revenge, control and, allegedly, affection are the order of the day.

 

Your classic read for August

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Nothing captures the oppressive temperatures of high summer like Tennessee Williams’ prize-winning, classic play set in the deep south. Blanche falls on hard times and goes to stay with her sister and brother-in-law, a man she finds coarse, rude and unfriendly. Though Blanche’s sister is hospitable, her husband continues to drink, shout and generally upset the women in the house. His anger erupts and he attacks Blanche, leading to her ultimate breakdown and her sister’s estrangement, in this story of tension, claustrophobia and suffocating heat.

 

Your classic read for September

The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen

The Copenhagen Trilogy tells the searing portrait of a woman's journey through love, friendship, ambition and addiction, from one of Denmark's most celebrated twentieth-century writers. Tove comes to realize that she has a vocation, something unknowable within her - and that she must one day, painfully but inevitably, leave the narrow street of her childhood behind. As the years go by, the central tension of Tove's life comes into painful focus: the terrible lure of dependency, in all its forms, and the possibility of living freely and fearlessly - as an artist on her own terms.

Your classic read for October

Women, Race & Class by Angela Y. Davis

Black History Month brings the celebration of the pioneering Angela Y. Davis to Penguin Modern Classics, with the first UK edition of Women, Race & Class. Tracing the intertwined histories of the abolitionist and women's suffrage movements, Davis examines the racism and class prejudice inherent in so much of white feminism, and in doing so brings to light new groundbreaking heroines, from field slaves to mill workers, who fought back and refused to accept the lives into which they were born.

 

Your classic read for November

Down in the Valley by Laurie Lee

Laurie Lee walked out of his childhood village one summer morning to travel the world, but he was always drawn back to his beloved Slad Valley, eventually returning to make it his home.

In this portrait of his Cotswold home, Laurie Lee guides us through its landscapes, and shares memories of his village youth - from his favourite pub, The Woolpack, to winter skating on the pond, the church through the seasons, local legends, learning the violin and playing jazz records in the privy on a wind-up gramophone.

 

Your classic read for December

The Penguin Book of Christmas Stories, edited by Jessica Harrison

The perfect gift this Christmas season: a generous selection of some of the greatest festive stories of all time. This is a collection of the most magical, moving, chilling and surprising Christmas stories from around the world, taking us from frozen Nordic woods to glittering Paris, a New York speakeasy to an English country house, bustling Lagos to midnight mass in Rio, and even outer space. Writers include Truman Capote, Shirley Jackson, Dylan Thomas, Saki and Chekhov, as well as little-known treasures such as Italo Calvino's wry sideways look at Christmas consumerism, Wolfdietrich Schnurre's story of festive ingenuity in Berlin, Selma Lagerlof's enchanted forest in Sweden, and Irène Nemerovsky's dark family portrait. Here is Christmas as imagined by some of the greatest short story writers of all time.

 

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