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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.

SorrelForbes Sun 24-Nov-13 00:43:40

EldritchCleavage. I have a VHS copy wink

Iwaswatchingthat Sun 24-Nov-13 00:53:29

Thurlow I felt exactly the same about The Great Gatsby. You have explained my feelings exactly.

I really did not like 'The Davinci Code'
I felt like I was reading Famous Five for grown ups and not in a good way. All that hype and such a disappointment.

clary Sun 24-Nov-13 01:25:44


The Way We Live Now

David Copperfield

All choices by my book club and I had to utterly force myself to finish them. In fact I couldn't finish David Copperfield I found it unreadable. All the people appearing and 3 chapters and then they are never in it again... like others, I have never got on with any Dickens and I have read a few. Apparently I am reading the wrong ones tho, it needs to be Bleak House or Martin Chuzzlewit.

I heart the Great Gatsby tho, it's just about my fave book. Picked it for my choice at book club and most people weren't keen grin I also love To Kill a Mockingbird, I read it relatively recently (ie not at school) and it blew me away.

I also luuurve Jane Austen.

Am reading Wolf Hall atm (for Book club again! (outs self)) and I am loving it. So go figure. And I never like the book club book (see above)

OldRoan Sun 24-Nov-13 15:48:49

A Passage to India. Or, in fact, any EM Forster. I wanted to tear out my hair reading it. I finished it, and can fully appreciate the symbolism and the style, but I found it so unspeakably dull.

Gatsby I didn't mind, but the Beautiful and the Damned was a painful experience.

I read Villette at school and hated it (can proudly say I was the only student doing A Level English who finished it), but after a few grim years I found myself wanting to read it and it really resonated with me, so maybe I was too young and happy first time round. The same cannot be said for Wuthering Heights.

No book should need a character list as big as the one at the start of Wolf Hall. I didn't get beyond chapter 3.

DameDeepRedBetty Sun 24-Nov-13 16:08:54

A lot of damage can be done if you're hassled into reading something when you're not ready. I was given Alice In Wonderland as a very little girl, only just able to read by myself, and I'm sure that's one of the reasons I dislike it so much. The Water Babies on the other hand was a Christmas present when I was spot on ready for it.

If we include set texts in the same bracket as being hassled into reading books, no wonder so many of us can't stand the standard Eng Lit ones.

I never had to 'do' Jane Austen, so didn't actually read any until into my twenties - and thus thoroughly appreciated them.

ThursdayLast Sun 24-Nov-13 20:11:11

A lot of these classics I like. Austen and Dickens for instance.

BUT Thurlow I couldn't agree more about The Alchemist. I don't know, I'm just not that into fairy tales dressed up as high end lit, blah. Oh! And I've tried to read Life of Pi twice and given up fairly swiftly...however I watched the film the other day and really enjoyed it.

To add my own, On The Road is another I've tried to read a few times and put down with a sense of relief.
I managed to finish Frankenstein, but wish I hadn't bothered.
And YY to Henry James...I think I was probably supposed to have read a few of his works during my EngLit degree but cannot say I made it through any blush

maillotjaune Mon 25-Nov-13 14:14:11

I LOVE Henry James but can't stand Dickens.

And although I have read several other Yann Martel books (and loved them) I have had the hardback of Life of Pi on the shelf with only the first 20 pages read in all those years...

AnneWentworth Fri 29-Nov-13 12:28:19

I love WH, but cannot get on with James Joyce. I have only tried 'A portrait of an Artist ...'.

I really didn't like Gatsby or Tales of the Jazz Age- Fitzgerald overrated for me.

DuchessofMalfi Fri 29-Nov-13 20:51:17

I've only read a little of Fitzgerald. I liked Gatsby, have tried some of his short stories. Liked The Curious Case of Benjamin Button but didn't much like the others in the collection.

Snatchoo Wed 04-Dec-13 22:29:16

Catcher in the Rye. I read it as an 18 year old and fucking hated it. Didn't like it any more when I read it years later.

The Great Gatsby. Don't get it, am I supposed to feel anything for these characters? I just don't. I didn't even get through Tender is the Night (I think that's by him isn't it? I should know I was supposed to read it as part of my degree! blush)

Any Austen, that sort of thing, just don't like it. Don't really like that sort of archaic language.

Cloud Atlas - I saw the film first and so wanted to love the book as much as I did the film. But I didn't. It was so boring. I don't especially like books written as letters or diary entries though.

Yeah The Alchemist was utter drivel. I used to power through any book I started to the end, now I figure life is too short so I don't.

IncognitoIsMyFavouriteWord Wed 04-Dec-13 22:33:28

Jane Eyre. what a load of pap. how can she love him he's a right bastard too.

Cooroo Wed 04-Dec-13 22:48:54

You are all dissing my favourite books! Stop it! I 'did' Emma for A level and it's prob favourite book.

Jane Eyre is amazing. As is Cloud Atlas. And Les Mis.

Couldn't get through Moby Dick though.

joanofarchitrave Fri 06-Dec-13 23:19:06

Wuthering Heights. I was only 14 or so though. I think I was put off by my English teacher saying we'd all fall in love with Heathcliff, which still makes me somewhat concerned about her emotional state. I really should try it again, I've come to Dickens and Tolstoy much later in life and now enjoy them - when I was younger the only Dickens I could read was the first chapter of Bleak House, I thought and still think it was one of the best pieces of writing in English.

Bigbadgladioli Fri 06-Dec-13 23:22:26

When I was a student Voyage to the End of the Night by Celine brought me to the brink. It still gives me the blues just thinking about it. What a miserable c* Celine must have been.

Bigbadgladioli Fri 06-Dec-13 23:23:54

Obviously that's not what I wrote in the essay...But they knew what I was thinking.

Bigbadgladioli Fri 06-Dec-13 23:25:27

Agree with Iwaswatchingthat re: Da Vinci Code. Very disappointing.

And I didn't like Life of Pi. I thought it would make a beautiful film. And so it is.

Lesshastemorespeed Fri 06-Dec-13 23:25:45

Catch 22. Bloody rubbish.

drudgetrudy Tue 10-Dec-13 20:58:52

Couldn't get into Middlemarch, don't like Lord of the Rings. Struggled on with Anna Karenina found it hard going and didn't feel much empathy for most of the characters, couldn't get going with The Mill on the Floss

drudgetrudy Tue 10-Dec-13 21:03:47

PS wouldn't call the Da Vinci Code a classic at all, pretty rubbish, cynically written to make money from a film, cliffhanger at end of every chapter, as Iwaswatching said, Famous Five for grown ups

ZombiePenguin Tue 10-Dec-13 21:08:39

I agree with Catch 22.

Animal Farm.

hollyisalovelyname Tue 10-Dec-13 21:14:43

Moby Dick. I thought I'd never finish it.

Inkspellme Tue 10-Dec-13 21:55:58

lord of the rings. boring and way too detailed. its long because everything is described in way too much detail. self indulgent author.

TheBunsOfPanettone Thu 12-Dec-13 20:51:11

Wuthering Heights. I was only 14 or so though. I think I was put off by my English teacher saying we'd all fall in love with Heathcliff, which still makes me somewhat concerned about her emotional state.

JoanOfArchitrave Wow, that is worrying hmm Actually it occurs to me to wonder whether she was making assumptions about your reactions to Heathcliff and trying some sort of reverse psychology trick? I do remember one school acquaintance who read WH before I did, saying Heathcliff was "loooovely" shock

I didn't like Birdsong. And given I read it in the mid-90s when everyone seemed to be in raptures about it, that felt like a failure on my part. I did finish it but felt no connection with the characters and nor could I believe the modern day protagonist was so ignorant of her family history. I found the part when Stephen's colleague in the trenches received the letter from his wife about the death of his son moving but that was about it.

ShanghaiDiva Sun 15-Dec-13 04:54:05

Dickens - sentimental drivel
Hardy - put off after reading The Mayor of Casterbridge for o level
Austen - love except Mansfield Park
Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet - tale of 17th century internal audit in Japan - WTF
Wolf Hall - am struggling with this as the moment
Heart of Darkness - incomprehensible
Henry James - snoozefest

DuchessofMalfi Sun 15-Dec-13 09:16:38

Buns I didn't like Birdsong either. You're not alone smile My dad has raved about this wonderful book (his opinion) - he read it when it first came out, and had been telling me to read it for ages. I finally got round to it earlier this year, and it just fell flat for me. Didn't warm to any of the characters. His taste in books is very different from mine, apparently.

I thought My Dear I Wanted To Tell You had a better portrayal of life in WW1 and more likeable characters.

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