Book Group Read: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain

Originally published in 1876

Synopsis: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a classic American tale of childhood in the mid-1800s. Tom Sawyer is mischievous, wily, he skips school and he sneaks out of the house at night. The story follows Tom and his friends through one adventure after another. The most serious adventure occured when Tom and his friend Huck witnessed a murder.

The Book Group at the Library read and discussed this book as part of The Big Read of Sonoma County (California). People of all ages throughout the county read the book during the month of April. There were also special events coordinated with the Big Read. The cutest idea, I thought, was the “Act Like a Pirate” event at one of the library branches. School-age children could learn to talk and dress like a pirate and learn to find buried treasure. I know All-Area-Reads are popular in various parts of the country. In my opinion, it’s a super idea.

The book group I’ve joined meets on a weekday afternoon so the age of the group is similar to mine. Every single person in our twelve-person discussion group had read this book as a child. And almost all of us had fond memories of it. When it came to re-reading the book, all but the men agreed it was disappointing to read as an adult.

I thought some of the language was difficult (see yesterday’s post for a sample of two unknown words). I also thought the writing was stilted. That is probably because it was written 124 years ago.

The prize was delivered to Tom with as much effusion as the superintendent could pump up under the circumstances; but it lacked somewhat of the true gush, for the poor fellow’s instinct taught him that there was a mystery here that could not well bear the light, perhaps, it was simply preposterous that this boy had warehoused two thousand sheaves of Scriptural wisdom on his premises – a dozen would strain his capacity, without a doubt.

I asked if today’s children would be able to read and identify with the characters. The reading is a little tough, but we all felt that children today still have plenty of imagination. We thought they would love the part about the pirates. There are issues in this classic that would make for a great discussion between children and parents and/or teachers. [We read the unabridged version and recommend that for children as well as adults.]

Overall, it was a good re-read and a good discussion book, even for “mature” adults. If you’re looking for a classic for your book group, give this one a try.

This entry was posted in 100+ Book Challenge, B Books, Book Challenges, Books, Library Challenge. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Book Group Read: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

  1. Beth F says:

    Your reactions were interesting. There are a couple of childhood books that disappointed me when I re-read them as an adult. Some because they were less complex and more cutesy than I remembered; some because my interests have changed. I haven’t read about Tom or Huck in many, many years. I’m likely not going to reread them anytime soon, but I wonder what I’d think of the books now.

  2. I didn’t read this until I was an adult and I did enjoy it, but I didn’t love it. I agree with you – community wide reads are a fabulous idea!

  3. Barbara says:

    On your travels have you been to Hannibal, MO to see the house where Mark Twain lived as a child? The town is very Mississippi River oriented and charming. They even still have the famous white fence.

  4. Well, the kids could always watch the movie! I love having a movie version of books with “old fashioned” language!

  5. Margot says:

    Over the years we’ve visited Hannibal, Missouri a number of times. Just last year we were there again. This time I’m afraid we were disappointed in the “commercialization” of the Mark Twoin connection. It no longer had the feel of a nice little sleepy town on the Mississippi.

  6. cerrin says:

    It is sad that the little town no longer has the little town feel to it. That is sad.

  7. It’s been ages since I’ve read this one. I’m going to share your post with my Library manager, she’s always looking for clever ideas to bring people into the library!

  8. Oh it’s too bad that Hannibal has become so commercialized. We visited there a few years ago (5 or 6?) and enjoyed it; I bought gift copies of both the books there (TS and HF)and pre-read them before gifting them to our oldest grandson for his library. I still enjoyed both the books that time; you do have to make allowances for when they were written.

    BTW, I want to join your library and bookclub — wish I could find one here.

  9. stacybuckeye says:

    I never read this as a child or an adult! I have it on the shelf to give it a try someday though. Looks like you had a fun discussion group 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *