Weekly Spotlight On…Book Trends

One of the major book trends going on these days are contemporary novels based off of the classics.  While it may have started with spoofs like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, authors are now churning out books inspired by classic novels that are literary in their own right as well.  I think this is a brilliant idea–these books will appeal to the reader of the modern novel as well as those who usually only stick to “the classics”.  I decided to compile a list, along with short descriptions, of some books that are based off of/inspired by/about other books.  Check it out–a lot of these are great summer reads!

The Innocents by Francesca Segal

This is a new book written by a debut author that is being hailed as a fresh and original take on Edith Wharton’s classic novel The Age of Innocence.   Here is a book description: “As he prepares for his wedding to Rachel Gilbert, the woman he has been with for 12 years, 28-year-old Adam Newman begins to question everything when Rachel’s fiercely independent and beautiful young cousin moves home from New York, offering him a liberation he never knew existed.” Request The Innocents from the library catalog!

Gilded Age by Clare McMillan

Another Wharton-inspired novel, this time based off of The House of Mirth, this book has appeared on multiple summer reading lists.  Here is a book description: “Returning to her home in Cleveland after a scandalous divorce and stint in rehab, Ellie, unable to feel socially complete without a husband, uses her beauty and connections to identify a second marital candidate”. Request Gilded Age from the library catalog!


Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

This book is a little bit older, but a great read and an interesting interpretation of the “mad woman in the attic” in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  This book acts as a prequel to the events in Jane Eyre and tells the story of the marriage of Bertha and Mr. Rochester, from Bertha’s perspective.  It is a feminist take on the classic tale and also acts a wonderfully well written stand alone novel.  This is also a great introduction to Jean Rhys, who (in my humble opinion) is one of the most undervalued female writers of our time.  Request Wide Sargasso Sea from the library catalog!

Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller

Book Description: “This epic retelling of the legend of Achilles follows Patroclus and Achilles, the golden son of King Peleus, as they, skilled in the arts of war and medicine, lay siege to Troy after Helen of Sparta is kidnapped–a cause that tests their friendship and forces them to make the ultimate sacrifice.” Request The Song of Achilles from the library catalog!


Lavinia by Ursula K. LeGuin

Book Description: “In The Aeneid, Vergil’s hero fights to claim the king’s daughter, Lavinia, with whom he is destined to found an empire. Lavinia herself never speaks a word in the poem. Now, Ursula K. Le Guin gives Lavinia a voice in a novel that takes the reader to the half-wild world of ancient Italy, when Rome was a muddy village near seven hills”. Request Lavinia from the library catalog!


A Monster’s Notesby Laurie Sheck

Book Description: “What if Mary Shelley had not invented Frankenstein’s monster but had met him when she was a girl of eight, sitting by her mother’s grave, and he came to her unbidden? What if their secret bond left her forever changed, obsessed with the strange being whom she had discovered at a time of need? What if he were still alive in the twenty-first century? This bold, genre-defying book brings us the “monster” in his own words. He recalls how he was “made” and how Victor Frankenstein abandoned him. He ponders the tragic tale of the Shelleys and the intertwining of his life with that of Mary (whose fictionalized letters salt the narrative, along with those of her nineteenth-century intimates) in this riveting mix of fact and poetic license.” Request A Monster’s Notes from the library catalog!

March by Geraldine Brooks

Book Description: “In a story inspired by the father character in Little Women and drawn from the journals and letters of Louisa May Alcott’s father Bronson, a man leaves behind his family to serve in the Civil War and finds his marriage and beliefs profoundly challenged by his experiences”. Request March from the library catalog! 



Railsea by China Mielville

Book Description: Traveling aboard the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap finds something amidst the wreckage of another train, a treasure map showing a mythical place untouched by iron rails, which leads him on a journey of danger and excitement.  From China Miéville comes a novel for readers of all ages, a gripping and brilliantly imagined take on Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick that confirms his status as ‘the most original and talented voice to appear in several years'”. Request Railsea from the library catalog!

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Book Description: “In The Hours, Michael Cunningham, widely praised as one of the most gifted writers of his generation, draws inventively on the life and work of Virginia Woolf, especially Mrs. Dalloway, to tell the story of a group of contemporary characters struggling with the conflicting claims of love and inheritance, hope and despair.” Request The Hours from the library catalog!


A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Book Description: “A successful Iowa farmer decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. When the youngest objects, she is cut out of his will. This sets off a chain of events that brings dark truths to light and explodes long-suppressed emotions. An ambitious reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear cast upon a typical American community in the late twentieth century, A Thousand Acres takes on themes of truth, justice, love, and pride, and reveals the beautiful yet treacherous topography of humanity. “Request A Thousand Acres from the library catalog!

Keep following RFPL’s adult reading for more book trends, news, and lists, as well as monthly staff recommendation! Happy Reading!


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