From the Beacon: Fill your beach list with some classics

What do I read after Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'? Novels I have read after Tolstoy have been disappointing."

This is a recent question asked by one of our readers. To be sure, reading classic works of literature can be daunting. This week, we'd like to encourage you to visit with some great writers. You may even find the destination worthy of the journey.

"Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hits" by Jack Murnighan, soon to be added to our collection, entertainingly tells the pleasures to be enjoyed in novels with a daunting reputation. Murnighan is a witty pitchman for literature; he lures reluctant readers to give the classics another chance to win us over. For instance, I am not drawn to Henry James nor James Joyce, yet "Beowulf on the Beach" piques my interest in both.

For each novel Murnighan pitches, he begins with a lively overview of the story, then "The Buzz" (what makes the work meaningful and vital), followed by "What People Don't Know," "Best Lines," "What's Sexy," "Quirky Fact" and "What to Skip."

As Murnighan advises,read a few paragraphs of different translations of the same work to find one comfortable for you. A no-longer copyrighted translation you find on the Internet may be a leaden Victorian whitewash of the original.

What you choose to read and what you enjoy is up to you and, please, never feel embarrassed at what you like to read: You are the monarch of your reading.

I promise most of the titles listed in "Beowulf on the Beach" will intrigue you and enhance your life, if given a fair chance. And while some titles are easy to connect with, some titles will be more challenging -- and then of course, there's Greek Mythology.

Ten-year-old Beaufortian Ethan Fackrell alerted me to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan ("39 Clues"). This hot series for young and old begins with "The Lightning Thief." These action-glutted page-turners center on a modern-day boy, Percy, who has harrowing adventures with the gods of Greek mythology.

It begins with a class field trip to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art's ancient Greek gallery where Percy's Pre-Algebra teacher turns into a monster and in self-defense Percy turns her into yellow powder.This would be a great book to share with children and grandchildren.

A handy guide to have along with the Olympian series is "The Genealogy of Greek Mythology: an Illustrated Family Tree of Greek Myth from the First Gods to the Founders of Rome" by Vanessa James. "The Genealogy" is a 17-foot accordion fold-out and a fascinating descriptive map of who's who on Mount Olympus. It is available at the Beaufort and Bluffton branches and would make a nifty reference to purchase for your home.