Great/classic novels you just don't like

(201 Posts)
Thurlow Tue 19-Nov-13 12:32:43

Cloud Atlas (what prompted me to start this thread) - lesser than the sum of its part. It's all very clever and a very impressive exercise in writing and authorial(sp?) skill, but none of that makes for an enjoyable read. Too stop start, didn't like some of the stories, didn't feel the stories connected enough to make it feel like they deserved to be all wrapped up together. Emporer's New Clothes.

The Great Gatsby - too deliberate, too studied. I felt like Fitzgerald had written and rewritten and rewritten again every single word on the page, and so the story lost any sense of urgency or liveliness. It left me feeling very cold, which did annoy me as the bones of the story were really interesting.

Paulo Coehlo's The Alchemist and The Life of Pi - couldn't read more than 2 pages of either of them, just hated them on sight.

Anything by Dickens - I just can't get into him blush. Ditto anything by DH Lawrence.

AndYouCanDance Wed 20-Nov-13 03:48:14

Yes agree with Bore of the Rings.

And Moby Dick.

claraschu Wed 20-Nov-13 04:04:07

Anna Karenina- I just don't give a shit, she is so pointless, (and I love Russian literature).

Can't stand Hardy and Lawrence, fake and overblown.

Virginia Woolf is over my head, except I like A Room of One's Own.

Love Catcher in the Rye and it reminds me of someone.

Love Jane Austen and all the Brontes.

I feel like the sum of our likes and dislikes should add up to something,
but I'm not getting any insight into my character.

claraschu Wed 20-Nov-13 04:05:13

Hate Tolkien too

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Wed 20-Nov-13 04:22:18

Catcher in the rye. Yawn. If ever a book were to take itself too seriously, this is the one.

Longdistance Wed 20-Nov-13 04:31:59

Wolf Hall was the crappiest book ever. Too many characters, and could never keep up. I gave it to my dh to read, who loves history, and he thought it was crap too. I think it's the way in which it was written.

arfishy Wed 20-Nov-13 04:58:08

I tried Focault's Pendulum once. I still have no idea what it was about.

My official least favourite book is Middlemarch by Eliot.

ElleBellyBeeblebrox Wed 20-Nov-13 04:58:14

Ugh to Wuthering bloody heights. Couldn't finish.
Wild swans was incredibly tedious too.
Adore Tolkien though.

itsonlyapapermoon Wed 20-Nov-13 05:09:42

We had to read Watership Down for English, and even our English teacher hated it and sympathised, and tried to get it over and done with as soon as we could. I hate animal stories anyway. We called it "Watered-down shit". Great Gatsby I thought was quite good. I always mean to read the classics but I really have a hard time with fiction. I like non-fiction much more.

Lavenderhoney Wed 20-Nov-13 05:28:51

I remember the teachers sucked all the joy out of classic books at school.

You couldn't just read and enjoy, you have to look for the hidden meanings and cleverness of it. Like poetry - it wasn't there to be enjoyed and allow free thinking, oh no, you had to try and second guess what the author felt. Grim.

Put me right off for years reading any classics after, as it felt like it was going to be a chore. They were written to entertain and make money, not be turgid tomes to use as doorstops and bore people with.

I read them now like chick litsmile I approach them from - must be a good story, no pointless padding, looking at you, Thomas Hardy with your wittering on, and not boring. Somerset Maugham is my current favorite.

DuchessofMalfi Wed 20-Nov-13 06:28:53

Hardy witters endlessly, but he knew how to write a good story. For that I admire him and enjoy his books.

But Dickens I can't get on with at all. Just too many grotesque characters.

dozeydoris Wed 20-Nov-13 06:39:03

We had to read Lord of the Flies for O Level. First book that had really gripped me and prob first 'difficult' book I had read.

But we had to do The Merchant of Venice in first year - who on earth ordered that - I wouldn't have know a Jew if one had jumped up and bit me (think 60s rural Scotland). Talk about putting you off. Fortunately it was the Scottish play for O level.

chemenger Wed 20-Nov-13 06:51:13

Jane Eyre - tedious, miserable and reliant on ludicrous coincidences.Would have been a better book if she had starved to death when she ran away without taking any of the money she had earned.

All of Dickens. Why use one word when 20 will do.

Most Scottish fiction of the 70's and 80's (I am Scottish), usually miserable and self pitying.

MrsDavidBowie Wed 20-Nov-13 06:56:07

Anything by Jane Austen or Doris Lessing.
Moby Dick.

I love Great Expectations and David Copperfield, but any other Dickens is such hard work.

I agree with the poster who said about teachers sucking the joy out of classics. Maybe if I reread the above now I would feel different. But probably NEVER about Moby Dick.

ithaka Wed 20-Nov-13 07:11:51

Another Tolkien hater.

Henry James sends me to sleep as well.

But I love many of the books and authors hated on here - Austen, Dickens, Bronte etc.

IHadADreamThatWasNotAllADream Wed 20-Nov-13 07:23:12

I did WH for O level and A level and never liked it, but what killed it for me was DH reading it as a challenge and saying "What? so this entire story is some old lady talking to a random visitor? Really? There's pages and pages of dialogue, does she do all the voices?" The more dramatic passages are now done in Thora Hurd's voice, with frequent interjections about cups of tea.

Dickens has his moments, but Hard Times is utter bilge.

SorrelForbes Wed 20-Nov-13 07:29:12

I'm struggling to think of a classic that I do like.

Pride and Predjudice was ok and the beginning of Jane Eyre was readable but apart from that...

Can't abide most of the American classics either (Catcher Lord of The Flies etc.)

OhSodOff Wed 20-Nov-13 07:40:14

Agree with the Wuthering Heights hatred. Complete nonsense, it doesn't even make any sense either, the timeline's all over the place. I couldn't stand Jane Eyre either. And Lucy Snow from Vilette was completely unsympathetic. In fact I wish all the Brontes had just stuck to cross stitch or something (admittedly haven't read Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte so she may redeem the others).

Middlemarch is a dead loss because of Dorothea Brooke loathing.

I tried to read a book by Martin Amis (forget what) and hated it, the central character was apparently some sexy 5 foot 7 bloke (evidently based on martin himself) and I couldn't suspend disbelief.

Little Women. Get stuffed marmee. Pious bunch of tiresome twats.

Love henry James and Vanity Fair though.

OhSodOff Wed 20-Nov-13 07:42:43

Also love Jane Austen, I think they're very funny, apart from Mansfield Park which is hateful.

Also loved Wolf Hall. One of my favourite novels ever.

The Book Thief was a load of bilge though. Contrived nonsense.

heronsfly Wed 20-Nov-13 07:43:50

I had to read The Mill on the Floss for o'level showing my age
it was the worst book I have ever read, tried again recently thinking I might feel differently with an adults view,it was even worse than I remember grin

OhSodOff Wed 20-Nov-13 07:44:14

I have never read any Dickens, which makes me feel a complete philistine. But it all seems so melodramatic.

DuchessofMalfi Wed 20-Nov-13 08:07:36

I think, though, whether we love or loathe the classic novels we studied at school does depend upon whether the teacher made them interesting for us or not.

I was lucky enough to have some really good inspirational English teachers, who managed not to put me off Shakespeare, but they still couldn't instil a love of Dickens or Keats's poetry. Cannot bear either of them.

Love Austen, and Hardy, and have discovered I like Lawrence - working my way through his novels and poetry in the coming year smile

evilgiraffe Wed 20-Nov-13 08:12:09

American? Lord of the Flies? Um, no, Sorrel, William Golding was English...

I love Lord of the Flies, Lord of the Rings (except Tom Fucking Bombadil), Austen, the Brontës (yes, including Villette), and Watership Down.

Agree that Dickens is hard work though, and Catcher in the Rye is appalling tripe.

Cloud Atlas is weird - I loved some bits (Frobisher and Sixsmith are wonderful characters) and hated others (nothing happens in Timothy Cavendish's chapters, and the character is hateful too). I liked We Need To Talk About Kevin - great story - but found all the characters tedious and unsympathetic except for Kevin himself, which I doubt is supposed to be the "message" of the book...

I've never read Henry James or Thomas Hardy, but this thread is not inspiring me to do so!

TheUnstoppableWindmill Wed 20-Nov-13 08:16:03

Oh God yes Dickens for worthiness, tedium and cartoon humour. I remember studying the opening of Bleak House. Fog anyone? Ditto ridiculous Lawrence and his self-aggrandising "She named him Paul; she knew not why" in Sons and Lovers and the over-writtenness (is that a word? Should be) in Women in Love/The Rainbow: "like ghosts they were, two spectral women, like phantoms they walked spectrally through the ghostly streets" etc etc.
Wuthering Heights is growing in me now that I'm to old to try & fail to identify with petulant Cathy.
I do love Hardy and Elliot though.

TheUnstoppableWindmill Wed 20-Nov-13 08:16:47

on me not in me!

DuchessofMalfi Wed 20-Nov-13 08:18:15

It's always worth trying the classics on audio book - it can breathe new life into a novel you thought you didn't like, or struggled with, hearing them read professionally.

I prefer to have Hardy read to me. Makes a huge difference.

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