Monday, June 16, 2014

Novels From the Past

With all the exciting new releases out there to read, why look at books published years ago, especially ones that didn't become classics? One reason might be to find out what our ancestors were reading.

That's what I did when I decided my male protagonist would be an avid reader. The easiest solution would have been to have him read books most people were familiar with, but I decided to explore some books with him, and I discovered a lesser known novel by Jules Verne. I really enjoyed reading Facing the Flag, and marveled once again on how Verne's mind was mysteriously focused on the future.

Many of us have read Jane Austin's books, and when we were in school we read classics. (Well, maybe you did. I revisited some I wished my English teachers would have assigned.) The Great Gatsby, A Tale of Two Cities, Dracula...

While it can be cumbersome to get through the language and writing style of nineteenth century novelists, I think we can learn a lot about a society through its literature. For example, many people at the turn of the twentieth century watched the industrial revolution and wondered where it would stop. There seemed to be no end to labor-saving inventions and they had fruitful imaginations. That's why Verne and H.G. Wells were so popular. More examples: What does Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë have to say about greed and values in the mid-nineteenth century? Why was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum so incredibly popular during a time of massive immigration? It was the first American fairytale. It was adventurous but also spoke to the concept of finding one's home. (I'm sure there were other reasons as well.)

What older novels have you read and enjoyed? What did they teach you about the society that existed when it was published?

Cindy Thomson's new novel, Annie's Stories, releases July 1 from Tyndale House Publishers and features some book-loving characters, including Annie who is reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on the cover. Visit to learn more. Follow Cindy on Twitter: or on Facebook:

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