Lesser Known Works by Classic Authors

I’m always on the hunt for a new classic. And of course what I mean by that is a classic that I’ve not heard of before (or at least one that I’ve not read yet). And sometimes the best classics are the obscure ones that people have forgotten about, since the other works by a particular author have completely overshadowed them. So, today, we’re going to look at some of the lesser-known books by some of our favorite classic authors.

If you liked The Wizard of Oz, then try The Sea Fairies by L. Frank Baum

I loved reading The Wizard of Oz as a child. I was fascinated by Dorothy’s tornado-tossed adventures and all the fun (and frightening) characters she meets along the way. I even loved the book’s sequels (there are 14 in case you were wondering, although I didn’t read them all). But, the book I want to talk about isn’t part of that series. I can still remember picking up The Sea Fairies from the shelf in my little grade school library. It had a beautiful blue and pink cover with a mermaid on it, and I thought it was the most lovely thing! The story is about a young girl named Trot and Cap’n Bill, a family friend who is tasked with looking after her. After sharing stories about how mermaids are ruthless monsters who lure their victims into the water and drown them, Trot and Cap’n Bill are shocked to see a real-life mermaid pop up out of the water to announce that those stories are rubbish, but if they just come along with her, she’ll show them what mermaids are really like. (Sounds fishy, right?) Well, Trot and Cap’n Bill decide to take her up on her offer, and what follows is a wild adventure under the sea!

If you enjoyed the adventures of Cap’n Bill and Trot, the fun continues in Sky Island, where a magic umbrella takes them on an adventure above the clouds. The pair also appear in the Wizard of Oz sequel, The Scarecrow of Oz.

If you liked Dracula, then try The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

Dracula is perhaps one of the most recognized names in literature. Everyone’s heard of the bloodthirsty vampiric Count. I’ve read this book several times, and each reading never seems to lessen the creeping dread this book instils in me. Now, if you’re looking for a different kind of monster, you might enjoy reading The Jewel of Seven Stars. Instead of focusing on a vampire, this book is all about a horrifying mummy. A famous Egyptologist steals the famous Jewel of Seven Stars from the mummified hand of Princess Tera. And Tera might be dead, but she’s not going to allow someone to rob her grave and get away with it. The professor is knocked unconscious and awakens to learn that Tera has possessed the body of his daughter. Now, in order to save his daughter, he must discover the way to resurrect the mummy’s true body. Not that anything could possibly go wrong…right?

If you liked Treasure Island, then try The Suicide Club by Robert Louis Stevenson

Ah, Treasure Island! A classic swashbuckling tale of high adventure. Young Jim Hawkins and his mother discover a treasure map belonging to a dead pirate who was staying at their inn, and Jim sets off on a grand adventure to find the treasure with the help of the local doctor and a courageous captain. But, all the while, the nefarious pirate, Long John Silver is plotting right under their noses take the treasure for himself. Robert Louis Stevenson is a great writer–one of the best. So, if you’re looking for something more by this author, why not try The Suicide Club? This is a series of interconnected stories about Prince Florizel of Bohemia and his friend, Colonel Geraldine as they seek to infiltrate and ultimately disband the deeply corrupt Suicide Club, named for the morbid fact that all its members are seeking to end their lives. Will they be able to do it? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

If you liked Sherlock Holmes, then try The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

When I say “Arthur Conan Doyle”, I’d be that the first thing that springs to mind is “Sherlock Holmes“. And of course, now Conan Doyle is rolling in his grave at the thought. The author was deeply frustrated because his Sherlock Holmes series was so popular that no one was interested in his other writings. So, the fact that we mostly remember him for his mystery-solving duo of Holmes and Watson probably does little to soothe those wounds. However, if you’re looking to expand your literary horizons, then perhaps you’d be willing to give The Lost World a try. And no, I’m not talking about Jurassic Park, although both stories are in fact about dinosaurs! Edward Malone has been rejected by the woman he loves, so he does what any of us would do in that situation–he joins an expedition to prove himself worthy of her. During his preparations, he meets Professor Challenger, a cantankerous, difficult man who claims he has discovered a “lost world” populated by dinosaurs and other prehistoric monsters.

If you liked The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, then try The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a classic story of childhood and adventure. Tom goes on adventures, attends his own funeral, tricks his friends in doing his chores, and discovers secret gold stolen by a group of robbers. If you enjoy Twain’s wit and humor, then you should try his book The Diaries of Adam and Eve, a tongue-in-cheek look at our first parents, told from each of their perspectives. It’s a hilarious he-said-she-said battle of the sexes, as the reader pieces together the stories and varying accounts to discover what really happened in the Garden of Eden. From discovering fire to naming the animals to trying to figure out where children came from (Eve knows, but Adam’s pretty lost), Twain’s wit and humor comes shining through, making this book a laugh-out-loud treat to read!

Erin

I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.