The best classic literature that won’t bore you silly

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Montréal, Québec, Canada. French is my first language, but I learned to master English in my teens. My mother taught me to read early and I became a bookworm in primary school. I began writing personal stories at ten and decided to study literature in the hope of perfecting my craft. Unfortunately, so many of the program’s books felt dull and irrelevant to me. But once in a while, an inspiring work of universal quality would come up, and I began building my collection. The books I recommend here are dear to my heart and motivated me to keep reading and writing. 


I wrote...

On Duty

By Ketsia Lessard,

Book cover of On Duty

What is my book about?

When a deathbed confession leads RCMP Constable Jasper Nelson to discover the existence of his illegitimate sister, his curiosity is piqued and he sets out to find her. He locates the young woman a year later where he least expects to, within the police force itself. 

As the geographical distance separating them becomes unbearable, Nelson obtains a transfer from Vancouver to the Inuvik detachment where he partners with his hardy sibling Heidi Finlay to investigate criminal activity and trauma in the High Arctic. Inspired by actual events, On Duty is a series of cases narrated by the Mounties themselves; through Nelson’s refined prose and Finlay’s no-nonsense reporting, a portrait of human nature emerges, emphasizing the possibility—and need—for divine redemption.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of True Grit

Ketsia Lessard Why did I love this book?

I discovered True Grit in my twenties, three years after my father’s death. I’d been living on my own for a year and was recovering from depression. Life was forcing me to learn resourcefulness, and this book came to me at the right time. I remember reading it with delight, wishing I’d known about it before. Mattie Ross’ pragmatic voice as she describes her father’s murder and her quest to avenge his blood resonated with me, not because we are alike, but because I needed a lesson in toughness. But beyond all this, I needed a good laugh, and True Grit is funny. The characters are colourful, the story suspenseful, and Portis’ research is so thorough you’d swear his book was written in the 19th century. 

By Charles Portis,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked True Grit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is no knowing what lies in a man's heart. On a trip to buy ponies, Frank Ross is killed by one of his own workers. Tom Chaney shoots him down in the street for a horse, $150 cash, and two Californian gold pieces. Ross's unusually mature and single-minded fourteen-year-old daughter Mattie travels to claim his body, and finds that the authorities are doing nothing to find Chaney. Then she hears of Rooster - a man, she's told, who has grit - and convinces him to join her in a quest into dark, dangerous Indian territory to hunt Chaney down…


Book cover of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Ketsia Lessard Why did I love this book?

I first read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in a literature class. I did not expect to be entertained and to laugh so much. It was one of the few classics I’d gone through that did not feel like homework and I was glad to add it to my personal library. The young Huckleberry Finn tells his own tale of fleeing from his alcoholic father and joining the runaway slave Jim on his journey to the free states on the Mississippi River. His raw, childish voice comes to expose the evil of slavery and question the absurdities of his time and place. A book I love to read again and again for its humorous and thought-provoking narration. 

Book cover of Emily of New Moon

Ketsia Lessard Why did I love this book?

I was raised Protestant in Québec, a province with a post-Catholic culture. There were few novels I could relate to growing up there. I was in my early teens when my sister-in-law lent me Emily of New Moon from her personal collection. Possibly because it’s about a nascent author, but also because it describes a Presbyterian lifestyle that felt familiar to us both. Emily Starr is a passionate girl who’s sent to live with her aunts and cousin on a farm on Prince Edward Island following her father’s death. Writing to her father “On the Road to Heaven,” she offers hilarious criticism of her culture’s religious legalism and takes her first steps as a poetess. Considered Montgomery’s most autobiographical work, it is a story full of laughter, excitement, and beauty. 

By L. M. Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Emily of New Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Following her father's death, the newly orphaned Emily Starr is quickly uprooted and sent to live with her aunts and cousins on Prince Edward Island. After an initial culture shock, Emily reevaluates the situation and attempts to make the most of her new surroundings.

When Emily Starr's father dies from tuberculosis, she moves to New Moon Farm to stay with relatives. It's a jarring change of pace and scenery that pits Emily against her strict aunt Elizabeth and new classmates. Despite the circumstance, she forges friendships with local children: Teddy Kent, Ilse Burnley and Perry Miller. They each have distinct…


Book cover of Till We Have Faces

Ketsia Lessard Why did I love this book?

Lewis is mostly known by children for The Chronicles of Narnia and by adults for his brilliant essays on Christianity. Till We Have Faces is what I would consider his most captivating work of fiction for adults. It is, most of all, the story of a bitter, ugly woman, a type of heroine we rarely encounter in literature. Orual, the eldest of three sisters and very protective of the youngest, is heartbroken when her beloved Istra is sent out to the mountain as a human sacrifice to a mysterious entity feared by her people. A highly symbolic tale, Lewis’ creative retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth is nonetheless accessible to most readers as the human elements are extremely poignant and relatable.

By C. S. Lewis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Till We Have Faces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fascinated by the myth of Cupid and Psyche throughout his life, C. S. Lewis reimagines their story from the perspective of Psyche's sister, Orual.

'I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer . . . Why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?'

Till We Have Faces is a brilliant examination of envy, betrayal, loss, blame, grief, guilt, and conversion. In this, his final - and most mature and masterful - novel, Lewis reminds us of our…


Book cover of Never Cry Wolf

Ketsia Lessard Why did I love this book?

Farley Mowat once declared: “I never let facts get in the way of a good story.” I have read Never Cry Wolf as fiction many times, even though its author pretended it was factual. As a writer interested in Canada’s north, Mowat’s universe is an obvious choice for me. The inclusion of Inuit characters is also quite appealing. In this book, a naturalist studies Arctic wolves in a makeshift camp in northern Manitoba and deals with the ridiculous expectations of the bureaucrats who sent him out there to fend for himself. He discovers that contrary to public opinion, wolves are not responsible for the decimation of caribou herds, humans are. Some elements are exaggerated for comic effect, and as one of Canada’s best storytellers, Mowat delivers on laughs. 

By Farley Mowat,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Never Cry Wolf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 11, 12, 13, and 14.

What is this book about?

Maxim Gorky, born Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov in 1868 to the low stratum of Russian society, rose to prominence early in life as a writer and publicist. Gorky, who did not have a formal education, became famous in his country and abroad. Writing could not satisfy the rebellious Gorky who soon became involved in revolutionary movements. After a short period with the populist/narodnik movement, Gorky became disillusioned with the peasant class, and, instead, he chose the nascent class of workers as the vehicle for change. It is as if Gorky and capitalism arrived in Russia together. In his view the intelligentsia…


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Tyrone the Tenor Mouse: The Singing Mouse of the Opera House

By Elizabeth B. Splaine,

Book cover of Tyrone the Tenor Mouse: The Singing Mouse of the Opera House

Elizabeth B. Splaine Author Of Devil's Grace

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Before becoming an opera singer, I received my Masters in Healthcare Administration and worked in various healthcare settings, from a community health center to a large teaching hospital. I learned first-hand how the best-intentioned clinicians can make mistakes, and how those mistakes can lead to unintended consequences that can harm patients. Although it’s terrifying to think about, the best defense is to self-advocate as much as possible. It’s your body and your decision. Don’t give away your power.

Elizabeth's book list on medical thriller/mystery with a spiritual twist

What is my book about?

Tyrone the mouse rehearses night and day to improve his singing voice, hoping he’ll earn the spotlight in the opera house where he lives surrounded by animal friends.

Ty secretly practices by hiding in the wings, singing along with the famous tenor, Roland L’Amour. When Roland becomes ill on opening night, Ty sees an opportunity to fulfill his dream. With the royal family in attendance, Ty nervously asks the opera house manager if he might play the lead role.

Although he’s nervous, with the support of his friends Stella, the precocious Persian cat, and Oscar, the mangy mutt, he finds the courage to take the stage and discovers that hard work and friendship can make any dream come true!

Tyrone the Tenor Mouse: The Singing Mouse of the Opera House

By Elizabeth B. Splaine,

What is this book about?

Tyrone the Tenor Mouse has a secret wish--to perform in the opera house where he lives with his animal friends, Stella the precocious Persian cat and Oscar the mangy mutt.

Ty learns the music by secretly singing along with a famous tenor named Roland L’Amour. When Roland becomes ill on opening night, Ty sees an opportunity to make his dream come true. With the royal family in attendance, Ty nervously asks if he can play the lead role.

With the support of his friends, he finds the courage to take the stage and discovers that hard work and friendship can…


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