For the first day of summer, I wanted to introduce a list of classic books that I associate with summer. Classic literature can be incredibly speculative to define. Please keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list!

Picture from my home library.

Category One — Water Stories

When I think of summer, I think of water, boats, and islands. This list includes some of the books I associate with those themes.

Stay tuned for more categories of classic books to enjoy this summer!

1. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

I am a passionate lover of Agatha Christie’s mysteries. My husband and I are slowly working our way through her Hercule Poirot series, which this book belongs to. The great thing about Ms. Christie’s work is that it can be enjoyed on its own or as part of the series.

Synopsis: “The tranquility of a luxury cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and beautiful. A girl who had everything . . . until she lost her life.

Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: “I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.” Yet under the searing heat of the Egyptian sun, nothing is ever quite what it seems.

A sweeping mystery of love, jealousy, and betrayal, Death on the Nile is one of Christie’s most legendary and timeless works.”

Paperback Edition
Hardcover Edition

Shop the paperback edition here at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop the hardcover edition here at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

2. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

This is my favorite Agatha Christie book of all time! It is a standalone and the ending is absolutely impossible to guess.

Synopsis: “Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to an isolated mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die. . .

Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?”

Paperback Edition #1
Paperback Edition #2

Shop Paperback Edition #1 here at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop Paperback Edition #2 here at Bookshop.org.

3. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I do not recommend this book to all readers, but if the open sea is calling your name and you feel like giving yourself a challenge this summer: look no further than Moby Dick.

Synopsis: “‘Command the murderous chalices!…Drink ye harpooners! drink and swear, ye men that man the deathful whaleboat’s bow – Death to Moby Dick!’. So Captain Ahab binds his crew to fulfil his obsession – the destruction of the great white whale. Under his lordly but maniacal command the Pequod’s commercial mission is perverted to one of vengeance. To Ahab, the monster that destroyed his body is not a creature, but the symbol of ‘some unknown but still reasoning thing’. Uncowed by natural disasters, ill omens, even death, Ahab urges his ship towards ‘the undeliverable, nameless perils of the whale’.”

Wordsworth Classics Paperback Edition
Norton Critical Paperback Edition
BabyLit Storybook

Shop the Wordsworth Classics Paperback Edition at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop the Norton Critical Paperback Edition at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop the BabyLit Storybook at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

4. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Jules Verne’s works continue to dazzle and amaze readers of all ages. It’s incredible to consider the impact Verne has had on science fiction; just for that fact alone I recommend this to readers or lovers of Sci Fi!

Synopsis: “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea tells the classic story of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus as seen from the point of view of Professor Pierre Aronnax, who was commissioned to find the mysterious sea monster responsible for sinking ships. Written by French science fiction writer Jules Verne in 1870, the novel illuminates themes that transcend time, such as man versus nature, freedom, and revenge. Now available as part of the Word Cloud Classics series, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a must-have addition to the libraries of all classic literature lovers.”

Word Cloud Classic
Three Novels: Journey to the Center of the Earth / Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
/ Round the World in Eighty Days

Shop for the Word Cloud Classic at Bookshop.org.

Shop for Three Novels: Journey to the Center of the Earth / Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea / Round the World in Eighty Days at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

5. The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen

When I think of classics associated with the sea I think of “The Little Mermaid,” one of my favorite stories from Hans Christian Anderson. For those who grew up on the Disney version: be warned that the original stories are darker. I believe that children and adults should enjoy Anderson’s classic tales.

The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen
The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen Tales

Shop The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop Hans Christian Andersen Tales at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

6. The Odyssey by Homer

If we are going to discuss sea faring classics, this list is incomplete without The Odyssey.

Synopsis: “If the Iliad is the world’s greatest war epic, then the Odyssey is literature’s grandest evocation of everyman’s journey though life. Odysseus’ reliance on his wit and wiliness for survival in his encounters with divine and natural forces, during his ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, is at once a timeless human story and an individual test of moral endurance.”

The Odyssey – Paperback
Iliad & The Odyssey – Leather-bound Classic
The Odyssey – A BabyLit Book

Shop for The Odyssey – Paperback at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop for Iliad & The Odyssey – Leather-bound Classic at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop for The Odyssey – A BabyLit Book at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

7. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Another seafaring story is Hemingway’s famous novella about loss and grief.

Synopsis: “The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway’s most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal–a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream, on the water for months without a catch, but refusing to stop trying. Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the timeless theme of courage and commitment in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his talent and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.”

The Hemingway Library Edition
Scribner Classics Edition

Buy The Hemingway Library Edition at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Buy the Scribner Classics Edition at Bookshop.org.

8. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Between the urge to never grow up, adventures with mermaids and fairies, or just battling mean old Captain Hook, Peter Pan seems the penultimate story for summertime. *Note* There are some culturally insensitive and racist moments in Barrie’s depiction of native people in this story.

Synopsis: “One starry night, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell lead the three Darling children over the rooftops of London and away to Neverland – the island where lost boys play, mermaids splash and fairies make mischief. But a villainous-looking gang of pirates lurk in the docks, led by the terrifying Captain James Hook. Magic and excitement are in the air, but if Captain Hook has his way, before long, someone will be walking the plank and swimming with the crocodiles. . .”

Peter Pan (Illustrated with Interactive Elements)
The Annotated Peter Pan (The Centennial)
Peter Pan – A BabyLit Book

Shop for Peter Pan (Illustrated with Interactive Elements) at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop for The Annotated Peter Pan (The Centennial) at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop for Peter Pan – A BabyLit Book at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

9. The Tempest by William Shakespeare

The Tempest is one of my favorite plays by Shakespeare. It offers a tragic view on the world; set on an island it involves greed, love, and magic.

Synopsis: “Putting romance onstage, The Tempest gives us a magician, Prospero, a former duke of Milan who was displaced by his treacherous brother, Antonio. Prospero is exiled on an island, where his only companions are his daughter, Miranda, the spirit Ariel, and the monster Caliban. When his enemies are among those caught in a storm near the island, Prospero turns his power upon them through Ariel and other spirits. The characters exceed the roles of villains and heroes. Prospero seems heroic, yet he enslaves Caliban and has an appetite for revenge. Caliban seems to be a monster for attacking Miranda, but appears heroic in resisting Prospero, evoking the period of colonialism during which the play was written. Miranda’s engagement to Ferdinand, the Prince of Naples and a member of the shipwrecked party, helps resolve the drama.”

The Tempest from The Folger Shakespeare Library
The Tempest, Norton Critical Edition

Shop The Tempest, The Folger Shakespeare Library from Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop The Tempest, Norton Critical Edition from Amazon.

10. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

This classic story has been adapted so many times the chances are that even if you haven’t read Stevenson’s book you probably know the story. The time is perfect to read the book this summer and then to watch my favorite adaptation of it Muppet Treasure Island on Disney+.

Synopsis: “Treasure Island is the seminal pirates and buried treasure novel, which is so brilliantly concocted that it appeals to readers both young and old. The story is told in the first person by young Jim Hawkins, whose mother keeps the Admiral Benbow Inn. An old seadog, a resident at the inn, hires Jim to keep a watch out for other sailors whom he fears but, despite all precautions, the old man is served with the black spot which means death. Among the dead man’s belongings Jim discovers a map showing the location of the buried treasure of the notorious pirate Captain Flint. It is not long before he, along with Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney, sets sail to find the treasure. However, amongst the hired hands is the one-legged Long John Silver who has designs on the treasure for himself. The continuing fascination with this tale of high drama, buried treasure and treachery bears out what Stevenson wrote about the book to his friend W. E. Henley: ‘if this don’t fetch the kids, why, they have gone rotten since my day.’ The book not only continues to ‘fetch the kids’ but the grown-ups too – in fact all those with the spirit of adventure in their hearts.”

Wordsworth Hardcover Edition
Robert Louis Stevenson: Seven Novels (Leather-bound Classics)
Treasure Island – A BabyLit Book

Shop for the Wordsworth Hardcover Edition at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop for Robert Louis Stevenson: Seven Novels (Leather-bound Classics) at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Shop for Treasure Island – A BabyLit Book at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

11. Book Sets with Books Mentioned Above

A. Adventure Word Cloud Boxed Set

From the publisher: “There are so many adventures to choose from in this exclusively selected boxed set! Four special-edition Word Cloud Classics are included: Call of the Wild and Other StoriesThe Jungle BookPeter Pan, and Treasure Island. Readers will be proud to display these works on their bookshelf when not reading stories of the savage landscape of Yukon territory, the challenges of growing up in the jungle, flying to Neverland, and hunting for pirate treasure—and the pirate ship sailing across the spines is sure to provoke many an interesting conversation.”

Shop for the Adventure Word Cloud Boxed Set at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

B. Discovery Word Cloud Boxed Set

From the publisher: “Discover new realms of thought and fantasy in this exclusively selected boxed set! Four special-edition Word Cloud Classics are included: The Wizard of OzThe Wind in the Willows and Other StoriesHans Christian Andersen Tales, and Aesop’s Fables. Readers will be proud to display these works on their bookshelf when not reading folktales and detecting morals set forth by our ancestors—and the hot-air balloon cruising across the spines is sure to provoke many an interesting conversation.”

Shop for the Discovery Word Cloud Boxed Set at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

C. Puffin Hardcover Classics Box Set 

From the publisher: “This deluxe set includes six classic children’s novels, colorfully designed with textured hardcover binding for a sophisticated, timeless look readers will treasure. Snuggly packaged in a gorgeously illustrated box to make the perfect gift for the holidays, or any time of year. For the young, and the young at heart! Box includes A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Secret Garden, The Wind in the Willows, and Peter Pan!”

Shop for the Puffin Hardcover Classics Box Set at Amazon or Bookshop.org.

12. For audiobook lovers: All of the above books are available to listen to from Audible or Libro.fm (my favorite two audiobook companies). Click on the company’s name if you want to find out more about becoming a member with them.

Note on affiliate links: While purchases through affiliate links are much appreciated, the purpose of this blog is to educate and spread a love of reading. You don’t have to purchase books to be a reader, that is why we have libraries. However you end up reading these books, I hope that you enjoy them!

4 thoughts on “Classics to Read, Summer Edition : Water Stories

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