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Which "classics" have you never read but feel you ought to?

(30 Posts)
Ujjayi Mon 17-Nov-14 16:54:54

I have always loved reading & read many classics through my teens. However, I'm aware that my child-rearing years have mostly been one chick-lit after another.

After perusing this board yesterday, I retrieved Jane Eyre from my bookshelves & am trying again with it (I don't think I have ever got past the third chapter).

I am also determined that I shall have read a Dickens novel by the end of the year.

Which classics have passed you by?

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Mon 17-Nov-14 17:25:26

Vanity Fair, although I have a copy on my to-read pile at the moment.

The Barchester Chronicles. I look at them in bookshops, then decide they don't look interesting enough and put them back.

Jane Eyre is really good, you'll enjoy it.

If you've not read any Dickens at all, or lately, Great Expectations is a good place to start, or perhaps A Christmas Carol at this time of year.

DuchessofMalfi Mon 17-Nov-14 18:04:10

Wuthering Heights - on my list to tackle read next year.

Trollope's Barchester Chronicles. Have made a half-hearted attempt with an audio version of The Warden, which I did like, although was a little wordy (sometimes I find myself struggling/getting frustrated with the Victorian novelists' wordiness - am looking at you Hardy as well grin, where Austen doesn't do that).

Can't get on with Dickens, but would like to read/re-read Wilkie Collins.

DuchessofMalfi Mon 17-Nov-14 18:06:58

Meant to add that I don't really feel I ought to read any classics, but these are the ones that interest/intrigue me.

I read Dracula last week - that was a rattling good read, and not difficult either.

AWholeLottaNosy Mon 17-Nov-14 18:07:58

Sadly I think doing English A level put me off the 'classics'. I read Madame Bovary by choice a few years ago. Really didn't get it.

Not read Jane Eyre, Little Women, Wuthering Heights or most of Dickens. Am I missing out?

Do love a good novel tho!

ButterflyOfFreedom Mon 17-Nov-14 18:16:20

The only Charles Dickens I have read is Great Expectations which I had to read at school (though I did enjoy it).
Would like to read more, especially Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol.

Read Emma recently but it didn't do much for me?!

I feel I ought to read some of the books by the Bronte sisters...

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Mon 17-Nov-14 20:24:59

Duchess I'm glad I'm not the only not keen on attempting The Barchester Chronicles! Wuthering Heights is very good, although I have a printed out family-tree type diagram which I found somewhere on the net as it can get a bit confusing.

Hardy is wordy, I'll agree, but he's my all-time favourite author. I don't let myself read any of the novels more than once a year, and read the lot this year, so looking forward to January smile I don't like Austen though - it's good that we're all different!

Dracula - not read that so will add it to my list.

ThatBloodyWoman Mon 17-Nov-14 20:27:47

I can't bear most classics,but I feel one day I should at least try Catcher in the Rye,The Bell Jar,Cider with Rosie,Lord of the Flies,and Swallows and Amazons.
But only if they capture me in the first 2 chapters.
Life's too short for duty reading!

notnowImreading Mon 17-Nov-14 20:28:53

I love Trollope. I've never made it to the end of Madame Bovary though. So boring. I haven't read Vanity Fair or To The Lighthouse

Arlagirl Mon 17-Nov-14 20:30:17

Jane Austen
Thomas Hardy
Thackeray

And I have an English degree

Chumhum Mon 17-Nov-14 20:38:57

Mark Twain, George Elliot - have never read them even though I love Classics. I purposely eak them out as there's a finite number and I don't want to run out. I particularly like the ones with scandalous characters Vanity Fair, Madame Bovary etc.

Barchester chronicles are worth persevering with, Trollope is one of my favourite.

BelleateSebastian Mon 17-Nov-14 20:47:18

I was thinking 'penis beaker'grin grin

niminypiminy Mon 17-Nov-14 20:52:21

George Eliot: Mill on the Floss
Dostoevsky
Henry James (read Turn of the Screw but nothing else)

I've tried Wuthering Heights several times and always failed.

English teacher

Lovelydiscusfish Mon 17-Nov-14 20:58:38

Also got an English degree! Haven't read enough Dickens. I should, because what I have read I liked.
Haven't read anything by Wilkie Collins.
Haven't read Dracula.

LOLerskates Mon 17-Nov-14 23:31:05

Not read any Dickens, always looks like an unappealing combination of grim and sentimental. Also not done Jane Eyre - a copy has been looking accusingly at me from the bookshelf for about 20 years now - oops.

Wuthering Heights put me off the notion of 'classics' for ages because they were such a barrel of whiny crazies, but then I got brave and read a Jane Austen and was very pleasantly surprised to realise that she's actually funny. (I'm not sure when I thought people having a sense of humour had been invented, but it was clearly after then to my twenty something year old mind!)

AWholeLottaNosy Mon 17-Nov-14 23:38:05

Dickens is a very astute and funny writer but it was such a different time sometimes it's hard to
See it I think. I studied Hard Times in the eighties and it's shocking how it spoke to those Thatcherite, utiliterian times. I still think
Of it now. 'Bread and circuses'

Hmm this thread is actually making me want to go and read some of these classics now!

AWholeLottaNosy Mon 17-Nov-14 23:40:32

What are those companion literary criticism books called, Collins? ( the ones students read that explain books to you). I think I may need to read them at the same time so I can properly understand the books in their own era.

AWholeLottaNosy Mon 17-Nov-14 23:42:11

Maybe we should start a book club on MN for people who want to tackle the classics!

Ujjayi Tue 18-Nov-14 07:35:53

Some great ideas on here - thank you. Altho Your replies have reminded me of a whole heap of other classics that I should add to my "ought to" list grin.

I'm laughing at "not sure when I thought a sense of humour was invented"! I love Austen & find her stories witty.

Love the idea of an MN book club for this issue.

Oh & the guides were Letts Notes, weren't they? O-level English Lit was a PITA with those...I do think one of the joys of literature is to find your own meaning within a story & I hated having to regurgitate the same POV as everyone else.

Arlagirl Tue 18-Nov-14 07:54:09

To me reading is a pleasure and relaxing...I feel I'm back doing A levels with "classics"...analysing and comparison.
Give me American literature every time...Faulkner, Steinbeck, Dreiser etc.

furrymuff Tue 18-Nov-14 08:06:20

Wuthering Heights for me too - I have never managed more than the first couple of chapters, someone please tell me it gets better? I have an ancient copy of Vanity Fair I want to get started on too, but the writing is SO small in it I will be squinting my way through it. Thinking I might just get it on my Kindle instead, but there's something lovely about reading dusty old yellowing books I find!

GlaceCherries Tue 18-Nov-14 08:13:42

English at school spoilt Dickens and Hardy for me - I feel I should read more by those writers, but can't bring myself to.

Also have not read any George Eliot, War & Peace (found Anna K really irritating) and some day I hope to get beyond page 10 of Remembrance of Things Past and finish it!!

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Tue 18-Nov-14 08:23:02

I was clearly very fortunate. I did A level Eng Lit and also half of my degree was in Literature, but at no time did I feel that the teachers/lecturers were spoiling things for me. They just gave me the enthusiasm to read widely which I still have decades later.

Ujjayi Tue 18-Nov-14 09:32:25

Chamade - I read a lot of Steinbeck in my teens & fell in love. It's one of the reasons I can't bring myself to revisit The Grapes of Wrath - I cried so much at the end...I worry that it won't live up to the memory. Ditto To Kill A Mockingbird.

Ujjayi Tue 18-Nov-14 09:36:59

Furrymuff - Clearly Kindles & e-readers are popular but I can't contemplate owning one exactly for the reason you give. Out of desperation, DH downloaded a book to my phone whilst on holiday. I hated it & just could not absorb the story at all. Came home, bought real copy of the book et voila! Literary pleasure! (twas Captain Corelli's Mandolin).

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