Book Bingo: Written Over 100 Years Ago – Vintage Beach Reads!

Join The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures for our 2nd annual Summer Book Bingo for adults! Follow us throughout the summer for reading suggestions based on each category.

Wait, we’ve got a Book Bingo square asking you to read a book written over one hundred years ago? This is Summer reading! What’s with Ye Olde musty dusty classics!? Not to worry: there are plenty of great escapist beach reads that have been around for at least a century.


Contemporary adventure writers definitely picked up a few pointers from their classic forbears. Long before Michael Crichton ever struck bestseller and box-office gold with Jurassic Park, Arthur Conan Doyle made Edwardian jaws drop and pulses quicken with his dinosaur-filled adventure The Lost World. Love Clive Cussler’s swashbuckling exotic adventures? Try H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines. Enjoy Bernard Cornwell’s historical military yarns? Check out A.E.W. Mason’s The Four Feathers or Conan Doyle’s Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard. Like a dash of romance in your adventure? Check out Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel. Patrick O’Brien your thing? Choose from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped or Treasure Island, Raphael Sabatini’s The Sea Hawk, or Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast. Or go Full Classic with the grandaddies of them all: Homer’s The Odyssey, or The Argonautika, by Appolonius of Rhodes.

Iron heel

Maybe you’re into dystopian fiction? Plenty of classic alternatives here, as well: check out Jack London’s chilling 1908 novel The Iron Heel, with its futuristic look at class struggle, or H.G. Well’s The Time Machine, a nightmarish far future exploration of the same tensions at work over hundreds of millennia. Or take back the world with Samuel Butler’s satiric send-up of Victorian life Erewhon, William Morris post-technological utopia News from Nowhere, or Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s feminist utopia Herland, in which she envisions a world free of men!


Thrillers more your thing? If you enjoy the psychological suspense of Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, check out Mary Roberts Rinehart’s vintage stem-winder The Circular Staircase, Marie Belloc Lowndes’ The Lodger, or Henry James’ profoundly disconcerting The Turn of the Screw. If you’re a fan of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan or Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, check out John Buchan’s Richard Hannay in The Thirty-Nine Steps. If the stylish spy fiction of John Le Carre or Alan Furst is your favorite beach reading, try Joseph Conrad’s Under Western Eyes or The Secret Agent.

Or, if you’re in the mood for something more spicy, well…


   – Posted by David W

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