Reading the Classics

Several years ago, I set a goal for myself to work my way through “the classics,” a bunch of books I should read, for one reason or another.

Last year, I read 5 and abandoned 1. Here’s what I thought of them.

  1. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (abandoned)– This book is supposed to be a love story with beautiful writing. But it’s SO BORING. Nothing happens, as is the way with many classics. I didn’t intend to put it down; I was going to keep attempting to get through it, but I could never bring myself to start reading again. I might try again later. Sometimes I like books better in different moods.
  2. Animal Farm, by George Orwell– I have no idea why this took me so long to read. It’s a short book, but also educational, entertaining, and a bit frightening. It perfectly illustrates how power corrupts.
  3. Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier– Again, why did this take me so long to get to? It’s a classic gothic horror story but with one amazing twist at the end. I love that the narrator remains largely unnamed. I liked this one enough that I’ll probably reread it at some point.
  4. Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens– I expected this to be dry and difficult to read, but it was great. It was a surprisingly easy read, with interesting characters. References to this book are everywhere, now that I know what they’re talking about. It’s helpful to know who Fagin, the Artful Dodger, and Nancy are.
  5. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding– Okay, technically I did read this in high school, but that was a long time ago, and I didn’t remember much about it. I wanted a refresher, so I read it. I liked it and can see why it’s a classic, but I didn’t love it. Definitely worth reading, and I’m glad I re-read it, but it wasn’t enjoyable.
  6. His Dark Materials, by Phillip Pullman (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass)- These get better as the series goes on. I know some people have a problem with his stance on religion, but I was reading them as books, not as educational texts, so it doesn’t make much difference to me. They were highly entertaining, and I loved the last one.

In the upcoming year, I plan to read 5 more. My tentative list is as follows, but I’m always open to suggestions.

  1. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller– I’ve wanted to read this for years. All I know about it is that the catch-22 has something to do with being crazy/ sane and flying combat planes, and that it’s supposed to be funny.
  2. The Stand, by Stephen King– This is supposed to be the post-apocalyptic horror story that set the standard. I’m sure I’ll love it, but it’s so long that it’s a bit daunting to start. Still, I write horror and I love post-apocalyptic stuff so I really need to read it.
  3. Dune, by Frank Herbert– Another classic of the genre, but really long. This one has been on my list for awhile.
  4. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut– This is another book I know very little about, but it’s been on my list for awhile. Interestingly, some friends were talking about it recently, and that solidified it; it has to go on the list.
  5. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald– I’m a bit tentative with this one. I didn’t like Tender is the Night, but just because I didn’t like one of his books doesn’t mean I won’t like any. Gatsby is his most recognizable title, so maybe there’s a reason for it? I have no qualms about abandoning it if I hate it.
  6. Alternate- Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy– It sounds like a fascinating book, and I’ve never read any Tolstoy. I’m guessing I’ll either love it or hate it.

What do you think of my lists? What do you think of the ones I read in 2017? My 2018 list isn’t set in stone (no reading list ever is), so what do you think of my picks?


8 comments on “Reading the Classics

  1. scr4pl80 says:

    I love Rebecca and all Daphne Du Maurier books. I’ve read The Stand and Anna Karenina and they are long but worth it. I read Lord of the Flies in high school as well. Some Dickens is on my to be read list too.

  2. Ramona Mead says:

    I’m attempting them slowly as well. I hated Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies, I don’t like allegories. I liked Love in TheTime of Cholera, abandoned Oliver Twist because I couldn’t get into it. I really like Fitzgerald, even though his novels can be tough to get through-when I’m finished and reflect on it I like it more than while I was reading it. Gatsby is short and you’ll be thinking WTF the whole time, but it’s worth finishing. The Stand is on my long list of favorite books. I recently gave a copy to my 14 year old nephew. It’s epic and gut wrenching, and King at his best! Dune is on my TBR for this year. As well as Wuthering Heights and Don Quixote. I’d also like to tackle Jane Eyre again. As far as other classics, I’ve tried Lolita twice and absolutely can’t do it. I’m trying to read more Hemingway because he’s my husband’s favorite. I like his short stories better than novels, and do better with his stuff in audio format so it’s easier to follow the dialogue.

    • doreeweller says:

      I really love how different people have so many different reactions to the same book. I read a Farewell to Arms and was unimpressed. If I were to try something else by Hemingway, is there one you’d recommend? I tried Lolita once as well and abandoned it. I’ll probably give it one more shot before it goes to Goodwill. I hated Wuthering Heights, loved Jane Eyre. You’ll have to let me know about Don Quixote. That’s one I think I’d like to read.

  3. Lea says:

    I love Rebecca!! I also was pleasantly surprised by Oliver Twist. I’m finding audio is making the classics more palatable for me. This is the only reason I attempted Love/Cholera and finished! Maybe Catch22 should be a swap pick this year? I’ve got a copy and it’s been on my list forever too. And I think it’s being made into tv or a movie…

    • doreeweller says:

      That’s a thought, about trying some on audiobook, but I tend to abandon audiobooks faster than I would print books. I also have a copy of Catch 22, but we should definitely discuss it.

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