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Classics you know you ought to have read but still haven't got around to yet


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Initial post: 14 Mar 2012 19:47:05 GMT
Swirlygirly30 says:
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but only recently I've read books like 'To Kill A Mockingbird' - which was amazing, and 'The Bell Jar', 'Of Mice & Men' and 'The Great Gatsby'. I've still got so many books on my to be read pile, which grows at a faster rate than my have read pile. I've still never read any Orwell or Waugh and I've only done a couple of Austen's and Dickens. It seems that once you get to a certain age with a passion for reading it's presumed that you have read all the greats! Admitting there's so many gaps in my literary pedigree feels like a confession! I was wondering if anyone else is harbouring a guilty secret like me of books you know you should have read by now but still haven't got around to? Or is it just me? ha ha

Posted on 14 Mar 2012 20:46:13 GMT
sundar says:
Working my way through the classics, started two years ago with all the Jane A novels.
still a long list to get through though Dickens remain unread.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2012 20:53:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 14 Mar 2012 22:01:34 GMT
LEP says:
There's probably a lot of modern classics that I haven't read.

Funnily enough, I love watching production of Austen, but when I tried to read one I just couldn't get into it, yet I love Georgette Heyer, so it isn't the language as such.

I've read some Dickens, Conan Doyle, Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, Scott, Wilkie Collins, Evelyn Waugh, Coolidge, DuMaurier, Shute, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Faulkner and many others. I haven't read any Plath and lots of others. To be honest I'm not that sure that I'm really missing out. I'm not into forcing myself to read something just for the sake of it at this stage of my life, I had enough of that at school although it did give me a good grounding.

Don't feel guilty for not reading something. Read what you really like and enjoy. If you see a "classic" that interests you then okay fine, but don't force yourself for the sake of it. Others may not agree with me of course, but that is how I feel.

Posted on 14 Mar 2012 21:08:01 GMT
Oracle says:
I did an English Literature degree but I've still not read Middlemarch...

Posted on 14 Mar 2012 21:19:04 GMT
Another one I haven't done either! It's so long!

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2012 21:20:42 GMT
You made me feel less guilty but reminded me of a couple more classics I still haven't done! Oh well..... Maybe one day.....

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2012 21:30:01 GMT
monica says:
There might be such a thing as a so-called canon that literary-minded people of a certain time and place consider classics--and it varies from place to place & from time to time--but there's no such thing as 'should have read'. Of the books and authors you've mentioned, none would get into my list of best 20th-century books in English, though Gatsby (and only Gatsby) would be considered a 'classic' by many literature professors.

Great stuff--really-- i.e. your reading serious & well-written books, and how refreshing that a Swirlygirly30 is reading Fitzgerald rather than gushing over the latest vampire/zombie/tender family tragedy by Jordan or Jonathan Franzen or Ali Smith. Have a wee taste of those books on lists of Important Books, by all means, but do know that they're subjective and that they always shamefully exclude books written by translated authors.

Posted on 14 Mar 2012 23:02:08 GMT
Like Oracle, I also have an English Literature degree and haven't read Middlemarch (shame on me I know!). Or James Joyce, Tolstoy, or Faulkner (though he is by the side of the bed waiting to be picked up). I didn't really start on Dickens until a few years after I'd finished being told what to read in uni and have mostly filled in the classical gaps since then with Waugh, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck etc. Just like anything, some are great, some not so much and it depends on who you are as a reader. Good point about translated novels often being ignored - if I had to recommend one it would be 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, not easy but beautiful and a true classic (for me anyway). OH and for American novels, Catch-22!!

Posted on 14 Mar 2012 23:04:29 GMT
Woops didn't mean to start just recommending things! What I meant to say was, just as long as you keep reading and love it, that's the main thing! :)

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Mar 2012 05:20:31 GMT
Oracle says:
You were so lucky to avoid James Joyce!

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Mar 2012 17:07:56 GMT
i know my swirlygirly name betrays my dizzy blondeness! but I am an avid reader and I think one of the reasons that I feel that I'm lacking so many so called classics is because I'm not a literature snob. I just love books and reading and I love that everything I read teaches me something new. I have friends who will only read a certain genre, ie crime or chicklit but I will read any fiction. I love Atwood, the Brontes and Julian Barnes but I will also read chicklit and crime fiction. I have recently read the hunger games trilogy, just so I could actually talk to my two teenage children who speak of nothing else and I really enjoyed them.

Posted on 15 Mar 2012 17:11:57 GMT
Ethereal says:
I've been stuck on Woolf's Orlando for about a year but can't give it up because I enjoy so much of her other work!

Posted on 15 Mar 2012 18:02:39 GMT
I would pretty much read any genre, but I have to admit to not being able to read classics. I have only ever read one classic all the way through - Anna Karenina. And the only reason I read that was that I stupidly went to France for a month without a book, and someone gave me that. I learnt never to be without a book after that!

I'm sure most people will think that the inability to read classic is akin to literary blasphemy, but I don't feel any worse off for it. There are too many new authors that I want to read to go back in time as well.

Posted on 15 Mar 2012 18:15:25 GMT
Budmouth says:
I bought myself an old set of Dickens a good few years ago, got them into chronological order and read from start to finish. I'd read them before but it was instructive to do it this way. It took me about 18 months.... Having been given Claire Tomalin's new biography of Dickens for Christmas, which I recommend, I'm about to start doing it all over again! Loading them onto my Kindle this time, as I'm off to Florida for a month late in the year and wouldn't want to lug them all with me. Anyone mentioned P. G. Wodehouse in the above list of must-reads? A bit of light relief never goes amiss..

Posted on 15 Mar 2012 19:09:42 GMT
At some point I'd like to get round to reading Peregrine Pickle, by Tobias Smollett, Bleak House by Charles Dickens, and Virgin Soil by Ivan Turgenev.

Posted on 15 Mar 2012 19:25:32 GMT
monica says:
This thread reminded me of a David Lodge novel--probably Changing Places--in which English Lit lecturers play a game called Humiliation at their gatherings. A player admits to not having read a 'classic' and gets a point for every other person who has read it. Of course, they play smug in the knowledge that they're well-grounded in the classics, and the party-goers are frozen and frightened when one player goes too far and admits to not having read Hamlet, or some similar icon. Maybe someone can refresh my memory . . .

I also remember asking a friend, now an Eng Lit professor himself, to give me a list of 19th-century British classics that he felt everyone should have read. I read the books on the list and the only benefits were that my curiosity was satisfied and my realisation that it's not just mainstream best-sellers/literary fiction that leave me cold, but also mainstream British classics.

Posted on 15 Mar 2012 19:44:13 GMT
Frank Mundo says:
I've been working my way through the Modern Library's top 100 novels for some time http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels/ I'm at almost 90. Could be a good list for others to tackle if you're looking for classics.

Posted on 15 Mar 2012 21:44:54 GMT
M. Dowden says:
I read somewhere that the two best books to read in the English language, were 'Moby Dick' (my all time favourite) for American literature, and 'Middlemarch' for English literature. Of course I am not saying I absolutely agree with that but they are both well worth reading. I started reading my way through the classics with those cheap Penguin Popular Classics books and then the Wordsworth Editions as well when I used to have to commute up to town.

I think sometimes when you mention classics people think that the books are going to be hard to read or not understandable, or not relevant to the modern world. It is nice though when you go into a coffee shop and there is a young woman there reading something more entertaining than the latest teen vampire novel. And as someone has mentioned, P G Wodehouse for something a bit lighter, and all the other classics comedy novels. I introduced my parents to Jeeves and Wooster, and my mum to Three Men in a Boat, and The Diary of a Nobody, both very entertaining.

Posted on 16 Mar 2012 05:58:48 GMT
Oracle says:
I only read my first Tolstoy earlier this year with Anna Karenina. It was good enough but I didn't think it was a patch on the similarly themed (and earlier) Madame Bovary. And I hated the Levin bits. It became much more enjoyable when I just skipped them out.

Posted on 16 Mar 2012 09:18:32 GMT
Oh The Diary of a Nobody! I love that book, I wish all classics were like that. Have read it more times than I care to remember and it seems to get funnier every time.

For a while I was trying to read books exclusively from '1001 books you should read before you die', but I soon realised that what critics and academics deem to be 'worthy' is not always the best idea. I discovered a lot of amazing books by doing this, but probably just as many dreadful, boring ones, and it missed out so many interesting genres that I eventually gave up and struck out on my own which is much more fun. Some of the books it recommended to me (like anything by Philip Roth) had me wishing for a speedy death so I wouldn't have to finish them!

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Mar 2012 10:29:02 GMT
Last edited by the author on 16 Mar 2012 10:35:29 GMT
Furny says:
Frank Mundo- Thanks for that link it is really interesting.
That is an achievement to get to Number 90, even more so when you complete it!.
Just out of interest are you reading the Boards top 100 or The Readers List?

Posted on 16 Mar 2012 18:24:17 GMT
M. Dowden says:
The problem with those lists of books to read are that they are perhaps in some ways too general, and don't take into account people's differing tastes. I love gothic fiction and you don't get many of those books listed, the same with sensation fiction. Madame Bovary is brilliant, but I've also seen it referred to as the most boring book ever written. I am a Henry James fan, and usually you will find his books turn up on lists, but like in his day, he isn't what you would ever call a popular author.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Mar 2012 18:34:27 GMT
can you get to kill a mockingbird on kindle?

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Mar 2012 19:30:50 GMT
Last edited by the author on 16 Mar 2012 19:31:20 GMT
Lori says:
I've just checked and there isn't a kindle edition listed.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Mar 2012 19:31:52 GMT
thanks for looking
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  36
Total posts:  140
Initial post:  14 Mar 2012
Latest post:  24 Jun 2012

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