Friday, October 12, 1979

Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Published

Updated 6/6/2019.

First Publication: October 12, 1979

Category: comic science fiction

Sales: 14 million


About the Book:

Douglas Adams presented a radio series called “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” later using its first four parts as the basis of a novel of the same name. It ended up the first of five books in the comedy science fiction, deliberately-misnamed “trilogy.” WK

The novel is “a fictional guide book for hitchhikers inspired by the Hitch-hiker's Guide to Europe, written in the form of an encyclopedia.” WK The story focuses on Arthur Dent and “his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.” AZ

Dent is “plucked off the planet” AZ “seconds before before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway.” AZ The “dynamic pair began a journey through space aided by a galaxyful of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox – the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian (formerly Tricia McMillan), Zaphod’s girlfriend, whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he’s bought over the years.” AZ

The Washington Post Book World hailed it as “extremely funny…inspired lunacy…[and] over much too soon.” AZ Publishers Weekly called it “a whimsical odyssey…Characters frolic through the galaxy with infectious joy.” AZ

In July 2018, I became the organizer of the Mission Classic Novels Book Club. Check out the Book Club tab here or Meetup for more information. This is our book for August 2019.

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Saturday, April 14, 1979

John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath: Published 40 Years Ago Today

Updated 2/8/2019.

Buy on Amazon

First Publication: April 14, 1939

Category: realist novel

Sales: 15 million


About the Book:

The Grapes of Wrath “galvanized – and sometimes outraged – millions of readers.” AZ “At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.” AZ

His “epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one…farm family, the Joads.” AZ They are “driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, agricultural industry changes, and bank foreclosures forcing tenant farmers out of work.” WK “The Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other ‘Okies,’ they seek jobs, land, dignity, and a future.” WK

“A portrait…of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel…probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America.” AZ “Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.” AZ

The Grapes of Wrath is frequently read in American high school and college literature classes due to its historical context and enduring legacy. A celebrated Hollywood film version, starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford, was released in 1940.” WK

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