Saturday, July 16, 2011

Genrefied Classics: A Guide to Reading Interests in Classic Literature

Genrefied Classics: A Guide to Reading Interests in Classic Literature. Tina Frolund. 2007. Libraries Unlimited. 392 pages.

Genrefied Classics is essentially a reference book. A book of bookish lists. There are ten genres explored in the book. Each chapter of genres is broken into sub-genres or categories. Each sub-genre has a list of recommended reads. Each entry lists the author, the title, the year and country of initial publication, details about more recent publications, and information about if the title has been done as a movie or an audio book. Each entry also features 'similar reads' and subject headings for that title.

Classics can be interpreted differently by people--depending on each person's definition of what a classic is and is not. This book only includes "classics" published before 1985. (Ender's Game would be an example of a more recent classic included in this one, the oldest examples would be The Iliad, Aesop's Fables, The Aeneid, etc.)

While the intended audience of this one may be adults who work with kids and teens (fifth grade on up through twelfth grade)--in other words librarians, teachers, etc., I think other readers can benefit from browsing this one. I don't think you have to be looking for a classic to put in the hands of a teenager to benefit from it.

There are categories or subcategories within this one which I wish were a bit longer because I would love even more suggestions. I would have LOVED it if the chapter on romance had been longer. I would have thought there would be more categories too. This section just felt a little uninspired, if that makes sense. Because while it's nice to include Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, it's not like those aren't oh-so-obvious choices. And to list only one Georgette Heyer?! I also think it would have been nice for Eugenia Price to get a mention or two either in this section or the historical fiction section. And Grace Livingston Hill, for that matter, either here or in inspirational fiction. And it just felt wrong, wrong, wrong for Elizabeth Gaskell not to be included in the romance section or the historical fiction section. Surely North and South and Wives and Daughters and Cranford are more than worthy to be included!!! I mean North and South is absolute must-must-must read in my opinion.

I was pleased to see some of my favorite authors included: Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, Ray Bradbury, Orson Scott Card, John Steinbeck, L.M. Montgomery, etc. Some of the authors recommended were unfamiliar, which is a GOOD thing in my opinion. I picked this one up wanting to discover new-to-me-authors in my genres of choice. Unfortunately, some of them might be a bit tricky to find at the library. 

Because of my familiarity with some of the subjects (sub-categories), their recommended reading lists seemed too short, too incomplete, as you might expect. If you come to the book wanting new-to-you authors, new-to-you-books, the more you've read of the basics, the more that will be the case. But these lists aren't supposed to be comprehensive, they're supposed to be more basic than that.

One thing that also GREATLY annoyed me (I have low tolerance for this, don't laugh) is when they used the WRONG, WRONG, OH-SO-WRONG listing for the Chronicles of Narnia. Publication order. Publication order. Publication order. That's all I have to say about that.

As you might expect, the longest chapter is devoted to historical fiction. Over sixty pages worth of recommended reading. The shortest chapter is definitely the one devoted to inspirational fiction.
The ten genres are:


  • Espionage
  • Journey
  • Lost World
  • Nature and Animals
  • Sea Stories
  • Survival
  • Swashbucklers
Historical Fiction
  • Ancient Egypt
  • Ancient Greece
  • The Roman Empire
  • The Middle Ages (A.D. 500-1500)
  • Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth Century Europe and England
  • The Spanish Colonies
  • Colonial America
  • American Revolution
  • American Civil War 1861-1865
  • Slavery
  • Settlers and Pioneers
  • Westerns
  • Gilded Age
  • Jazz Age
  • The Great Depression
  • Urban Realism and the Growth of City Life
  • World War I
  • World War II
  • Victorian England
  • Russian Novels Nineteenth Century
  • Russia Twentieth Century
Science Fiction
  • Aliens
  • Dystopias and Alternative Futures
  • Science Gone Awry
  • Space Travel, Adventure, and Life in Other Worlds
  • Time Travel
  • General Fantasy
  • High Fantasy
  • Mythology
  • Epic and Legend
  • Arthurian Fiction
  • Folktales
  • Fairy Tales
  • Animal Fantasy and Fables
  • Humorous Fantasy
  • Ghost Stories
  • Haunted Houses
  • Gothic Horror
  • Vampires
  • Supernatural and Weird Stories
  • Psychological Horror
  • Science Gone Awry
Mystery and Suspense
  • Detectives
  • Hard-Boiled Private Eyes
  • Crime and True Crime
  • Suspense
Coming of Age and Other Life Issues
  • Coming of Age
  • Relationships
  • Family
  • Extreme Mental States (Mental Illness and Drug Addiction)
  • Death
  • Social Conflict
Romance Fiction
  • Gothic Romance
  • Historical
  • Regency Romance
Inspirational Fiction
  • Religious Scriptures
  • Early Christianity
  • Christian Literature
  • Other Inspirational Stories

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


hopeinbrazil 4:06 PM  

Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Susan (Reading World) 5:13 PM  

Reading guides are wonderful. It's always interesting to see what makes the cut and what doesn't and to try to figure out why. But often I feel overwhelmed when I see these kinds of lists. There are SO MANY books I haven't read. Where will I find the time?

Amy 11:18 AM  

This sounds great. I usually avoid reading guides because I always end up adding too many books to my already long list but I can always feel better about adding classics.

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