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I'm not as well-read as I think I should be - what books should I have read by now?

(34 Posts)
CambridgeBlue Wed 22-Oct-14 13:37:31

I consider myself fairly intelligent but when I think about it I haven't read a lot of the 'classics' (not adult ones anyway, read far too many children' classics!) apart from those I did at school. For example I am embarrassed to admit I've never read any Jane Austen.

I read all sorts from fairly low brow chic lit to historical stuff, biographies etc but I tend to choose books that I know I will enjoy rather than giving anything a bit more challenging a go.

What sort of thing would be on an 'ought to have read' list?

OP’s posts: |
HeeHiles Wed 22-Oct-14 13:39:04

Read some Dickens! Love his stuff!

DuchessofMalfi Wed 22-Oct-14 16:06:45

Hardy - read Tess of the d'Urbervilles. It's very readable, wonderful story. I loved it. Also The Mayor of Casterbridge.

LeBearPolar Wed 22-Oct-14 16:25:54

Maybe vary nineteenth and twentieth century classics, so that you can temper the heavyweight Victorian Novel with something lighter but equally literary.

Sooooooo - nineteenth century:

Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jane Eyre, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Silas Marner, The Turn of the Screw...

Twentieth and twenty-first century:
The Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises, The Color Purple, Lord of the Flies, The Handmaid's Tale, Half of a Yellow Sun, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Remains of the Day, The English Patient, Persepolis, A Passage to India, Heart of Darkness...

cuddybridge Wed 22-Oct-14 18:30:05

great lists but personally Id skip Heart of darned and Silas Marner, unless you are in to literary masochism

cuddybridge Wed 22-Oct-14 18:30:47

Heart of Darkness, but damned does seem apt, give it a miss

LeBearPolar Wed 22-Oct-14 18:34:14

Heart of Darkness has some fabulous writing in it. But it's actually 1899 so needs moving to my other list!

mrsdavidbowie Wed 22-Oct-14 18:35:04

I've got an English degree and haven't read Jane Austen.
I prefer American literature.

LilAnnieAmphetamine Wed 22-Oct-14 18:39:43

Jane Eyre / Tess of the D'Urbervilles / Sons and Lovers / The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath / Oliver Twist are all readable and a good introduction.

I detest Austen and I consider myself pretty well read. I am an American Lit junkie too. Try anything by Willa Cather plus Catcher in the Rye or The Grapes of Wrath.

ihaveabookaddiction Wed 22-Oct-14 18:40:38

Beloved by Toni Morrison is a modern classic. Absolutely fantastic.

fishcake84 Wed 22-Oct-14 18:44:41

The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas. Modern stuff by John Irving, he is my utter favourite.

AuntieStella Wed 22-Oct-14 18:50:57

If you can't face Dickens, try Thackeray's 'Vanity Fair'

Classic porn, try Cleland's 'Fanny Hill'

Also try some PG Wodehouse, DL Sayers, some Sherlock Holmes, an anthology ofthe romantic poets, Jane Eyre followed by Jean Rhys' "Wide Sargasso Sea" (st.ory of Bertha).

LilAnnieAmphetamine Wed 22-Oct-14 18:53:42

YY to Beloved. Also anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
Invisble Man by Ralph Ellison.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (play).
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.
The Colossus of Marousi by Henry Miller
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson.
The heart is a lonely hunter by Carson McCullers.
The Shipping news by Annie Proulx.

CambridgeBlue Wed 22-Oct-14 21:22:16

Thank you, lots to think about here - my Kindle is about to get very full!

OP’s posts: |
LEMmingaround Wed 22-Oct-14 21:27:52

The best bit being that kindle classics are free

Smartiepants79 Wed 22-Oct-14 21:33:00

A brave new world.
1984
To kill a mockingbird.

messyisthenewtidy Wed 22-Oct-14 22:41:39

House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

MollyBdenum Wed 22-Oct-14 22:48:09

As well as the classic novels, you should read The Oddessy, The Aeniad, Beowulf, The Prince, Plato's Republic and the Mort D'Arthur.

IsabellaofFrance Thu 23-Oct-14 13:59:58

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.
I love Sense and Sensibility and think its much better than P&P, as is Mansfield Park.
Agree with Charles Dickens, Great Expectations is, well, great grin.
Agree with Hardy, Trollope's stuff can be good too.
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
Anything by George Eliot, but Middlemarch is great

MsTwankeyToYou Thu 23-Oct-14 18:08:10

Don Quixote (Cervantes), Jane Eyre (Bronte), Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Hardy), Sense and Sensibility (Austen), Frankenstein (Shelley), A Tale Of Two Cities and Bleak House and Great Expectations (Dickens), Light in August and As I Lay Dying (Faulkner), The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome (Wharton), USA Trilogy (Does Passos), Catcher in the Rye (Salinger), Money: A Suicide Note (Amis), New York Trilogy (Auster), Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Foer), Oblivion: Stories and if you have a lot of time on your hands also Infinite Jest (Wallace), The Corrections and Freedom (Franzen), Thank You For Smoking (Buckley), Cloud Atlas (Mitchell), Atonement and Enduring Love (McEwan), Waterland (Swift).

A lot of those are modern, and also American. However, I've recommended them because IMO they're exceptionally well written, insightful, influential, and highly respected works of litereature, so should hopefully fit the bill.

ElephantsNeverForgive Thu 23-Oct-14 18:13:17

Keep Lord of the Flies until Christmas, put it on your fire (or rip it up and use it to light candles if you don't have a fire place)

It's vile!

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Thu 23-Oct-14 18:40:04

Nooooooooo,I loved reading it at school!

I recently read The Bell Jar, it's incredible.

LeBearPolar Thu 23-Oct-14 19:16:34

Lord of the Flies is incredible. Not, obviously, if you like your literature fluffy and safe, but as an insight into humanity it's rarely been bettered.

LilAnnieAmphetamine Thu 23-Oct-14 19:34:24

And check out the Persephone backlist. It's lovely.

ElephantsNeverForgive Thu 23-Oct-14 20:51:07

LOTF is clearly going to be depressing from page 1.

And yes I do like my literature 'safe' not necessarily fluffy, but I like at least some of the nice characters to survive and be happy and the bad guys to die.

I can't see any point in reading books that are as miserable as real life!

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