Free or Cheap Classics “Classes” on the Internet

I must say that I have never been so interested in so many truly classic books as right now. My interest has been piqued by various bloggers and podcasters whose discussions are so interesting that I swim in the wake of their enthusiasm.

These are all underway but it is easy to track back and start at the beginning:

The Flannery O’Connor Summer Reading Club - blog
For a simple reader like me, some help is necessary to understand O’Connor’s short stories. The reading club has been looking at a different short story each week and I have been enjoying it immensely. Blogger and club host Jonathan Rogers has a book about O’Connor coming out soon and, based on this, it is definitely worth reading.

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot - blog
I’ve always been so intimidated by this poem. Its reputation looms large for complexity. Plus, I’m not that into poetry. However, Melanie Bettinelli loves poetry, Eliot, and this poem. She’s going through it a few lines at a time which has been very good for helping me digest it. Oddly enough, often my personal feelings about the lines lead to completely different interpretations of Bettinelli’s but that is all to the good in this case. Because it means I’m engaged with the poem and her discussion is making me think about it more than I would just sitting down and reading it through.

The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer - podcast
I’ve also always been intimidated by Chaucer. (Yes, if it is an old classic then I’m intimidated … let’s not discuss Beowulf, please). However, I am now going to get it spoon-fed with some of the best help possible … from Heather Ordover at Craft Lit.

If you support the Craftlit podcast by subscribing for $5/month, then Heather gives all sorts of delightful goodies which are CraftLit Originals. One is that her husband, Andrew, is narrating his book Cool for Cats, and a wonderful narrator he is of this mystery which I much enjoyed. The other is that she is offering Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Having just gone through the introductory episode I can say that my anxiety is eased already. Heather is an experienced teacher who truly loves Chaucer and she’s recruited a fantastic reader. She is also offering an enhanced version which will have the text, images from that time and much more.

The Odyssey – podcast
Jesse and Scott at SFFaudio have been working their way through The Odyssey four chapters at a time. They’re close to the end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch up. I’ve been reading along in time to their discussions and it has been a good way to experience the entire thing.

Classic Fantasy and Horror Authors – blog
Kindle Review is a great place to find free and discounted Kindle books. There is a list every day, sorted by category. Recently, there has been an extra bonus for those of us who like fantasy and horror. Using the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series as a guide, there has been a series of posts briefly covering various authors and linking to some of their major works that are free for the Kindle. The Ballantine series, which began in 1969, showcased fantasy and horror writers who had long been long out-of-print or only published in pulp magazines such as Weird Tales.

I know, these aren’t the true classics such as the other listings, but they are classics in their own right and difficult to find sometimes.

About Julie Davis
  • Michelle

    Thanks for the tips! I have never read The Divine Comedy but spontaneously decided to pick it up from my library today when I was there with the kids. Yikes! I’m a little intimidated. Any suggestions on helpful resources for this one?

    • juliedavis

      Hi Michelle … wow, I wish I had a good resource. I myself depended on the notes in the John Ciardi translation to pull me through it.

  • Stephane Angelini

    What a fun list! I read The Canterbury Tales this Summer but I wish I had known about the CraftLit podcast. Might have come in handy in high school, too. :)


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