They're the classics of literature. You know the titles and they're likely to be on your children's back to school reading list but did you ever read or do you remember these books?

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    Mark Twain

    Equally praised and condemned, there is no doubt that 'Huck Finn' is one of the most talked about pieces of children's literature. The story is a sequel to 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' focusing on Sawyer's best friend and a trip along the antebellum Mississippi River. The book provides a look at the culture of the American south in the early 1800s. The use of racial slurs and stereotypes have lead many to question of the literary merits outweigh the outmoded language. Of course Mark Twian has an Upstate New York connection - he lived for a time in Elmira and is buried in that city's Woodlawn Cemetery.

    Public Domain/Wikipedia
  • The Jungle

    Upton Sinclair

    'The Jungle' is the classic muck-racking novel that exposed harsh, unsanitary conditions in the Chicago stockyards that butchered and processed much of the nation's meat supply. The Food and Drug Administration grew out of reforms that were spurred by the book. 'The Jungle' is not without controversy however. The later portions of the novel deal with Sinclair's socialist philosophy and politics.

    Public Domain/Wikipedia
  • Flatland

    Edwin A. Abbott

    A fiction book to read in Geometry class? Perhaps if the teacher assigned Edwin Abbott's 'Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions' published in 1884. The novel is social satire of Victorian era England but is told via mathematics and geometry as the narrator, A Square, travels between worlds in one through four dimensions.

    Dover Publications
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

    Inspired by slave narratives and in response to the Fugitive Slave Act, abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' in 1852 and it is considered one of the many factors that eventually led to the American Civil War. The novel is the best selling of the 1800s. Despite its role in the abolition movement, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' is not without controversy. Due to its popularity, the novel is also credited with perpetuating negative African-American stereotypes.

    Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  • The Old Man and the Sea

    Earnest Hemingway

    At just 93 pages 'Old Man and the Sea' is a quick read and is one of the best known and loved of Hemingway's works. The struggle of a lonely, elderly fisherman won both a Pulitzer and Nobel prize. It was the last work that Hemingway completed and published during his life. Focusing on the struggle of Santiago against a giant fish, the book draws religious parallels through the author's stark and simple prose.

    Charles Scribner's Sons