Saturday, 27 June 2015

10 books I Should Read But Probably Never Will


Man with bookDo you ever feel like there is certain books that you should read, even if you don't want to? For me the so called classics generally fall into this category. Obviously, at school, I studied several of these classics, and I then went on to do an A-Level in English Literature, so I consequently read and studied a fair few more.
Don't get me wrong, some of them I enjoyed reading, but as the course progressed, I started to question how these particular books became classics. They are all so different from each other that there seems to be no classification, no particular elements that need to be checked off. It seems more that some literary professor says it is a classic and the Emperor's New Clothes syndrome kicks in. No one wants to be seen as the uneducated fool that argues against the virtues of these stories.
For me the classics can be hard work, and I read for pleasure. I am giving up on the notion that I should read certain books because it's the done thing. It seems a little pretentious reading something just because I "should"
Just remember, the same people who define these classics and tell you they should be read, are the same people who would class Stephen King as illiterate. Love him or hate him, it is beyond comprehension that someone who has sold over 350 million books worldwide could be called illiterate.
For years I struggled with the notion that I "should" be reading certain texts, because they are classics. I even started some of them, but didn't get very far. I'm not saying they are bad, I'm just saying that no one should tell you what you should or shouldn't be reading.
Here are 10 books I feel I "should" read, but probably never will!

 
1. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
 
2. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
 
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
 
4. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
 
5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
 
6. Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien
Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien
 
7. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
 
8. Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
 
9. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
 
10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
 
I have chosen the above books, because, of the classics, these are the ones that would appeal to me if I had to choose some to read, but I know I will still probably never get around to reading them.
I think maybe studying literature has put me off them to an extent. If I hadn't heard all the reasons I should read them (not because it's a good story, but because of literary tools used by the author, or symbolism etc) maybe I would be able to read them and appreciate them just as good stories.
I do think teaching literature in schools is important, but I think the wider message should also be emphasised a little more that there are many books out there and you should read what appeals to you, not what you are told you should be seen to have read.
 
What do you think? Am I a little cynical or do you agree?
 
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All photos courtesy of Google Books!

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34 comments:

  1. When someone tells me I must do something, I instantly lose interest! I totally agree with this list above, with the exception of Animal Farm. Because of the length, I find it a quick enjoyable read. I also want to increase my knowledge of Shakespeare because I always miss those questions on Jeopardy!

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    1. If I ever do delve into the list, I will start with Animal Farm then! Thanks for commenting :)

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  2. I actually own but have never read Chaucer and Shakespeare - I have delved into to some of these but not all as I have studied some of the Canterbury Tales, some of Shakespeare's Sonnets along with Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and A Mid-Summer Night's Dream. I also have the complete works of Charles Dickens and have been 'in the middle' of reading the Pickwick Papers - my absolute favourite by Dickens. I own Of Mice and Men, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (in both penguin, Oxford Classic, and Kindle free editions) and I also own the DVD series - sad I know but I studied it on two different modules at Uni. I did a Jane Austen module and I really enjoyed Northanger Abbey (I own both the book and DVD too) as it has quite a sense of Gothic to it and I prefer that type of writing. I have read, yet don't own Animal Farm and Little Women - I did enjoy both. I really love William Golding's The Inheritors which is about Neanderthals, and I found Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders an interesting read which is also a classic. Just thought I would comment and share my thoughts lol - hope you do get chance to read some of these! :)

    Janet
    www.ramblesrantswritings.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. I've delved into Chaucer and Shakespeare as part of studies too and while I don't mind the stories themselves, the language is hard work when all you want is an enjoyable read. I really enjoyed Lord of the Flies and actually re-read it some years after studying it so I think I would probably enjoy The Inheritors too. Maybe I will force my way through some of these at some, but don't hold your breath lol. Thanks for the thoughtful comment :)

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  3. I've only read 8/9 but I did really enjoy them. Found them quite an easy read. Struggled and gave up with Lord of the Rings- snore. Too lazy to think about the others :-)

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    1. I've tried Lord of the rings a few times but I find it hard to drum up much enthusiasm for it and I always end up giving up on it!

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  4. There are many classics I will never read. I have to be interested in the story. I don't feel like anyone "should" read anything specifically. What does "well read" mean, anyway? There is such a vast selection out there.

    But I found your list fascinating. I have read many of those. I read War and Peace in college just so I could say I read War and Peace. I don't remember much about it--lots of stuff about how Russian names work and long slogs through war scenes (which I didn't enjoy).

    I loved Pride and Prejudice and Little Women. Yes, loved. If you don't want to read Pride and Prejudice, see the BBC miniseries from the '90s or even the movie from the mid '00s. If you don't enjoy those, you won't enjoy the book.

    Great Expectations I read when I was 12. I'm less than enthused about it. It was okay. Animal Farm I've read in various classes out of order and over a period of time, but I think I've read all of it by now. Of Mice and Men I haven't read the whole thing, but I've got bits of it out of order in various classes as well.

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    1. I always get the impression with War and Peace (and as I haven't read it, it is only an impression) that he was trying to write a long book rather than a good story.
      I agree about being well read - from a literary point of view, I definitely wouldn't make the grade, but I have read a LOT of books!

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  5. Its so hard to get kids to read, I think that starting them out with things that interest them to try and get them "hooked" on reading is probably more important than forcing them to read something they don't understand and "turning them off " to the idea of reading for fun

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    1. I totally agree! Like you say it is hard to get kids to read and forcing them to read things they have no interest in just reinforces their idea that reading is boring!

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  6. Good list! Have only really read The Lord of the Rings on there. Enjoy reading what I like ever since finishing formal education all those years ago - and generally this isn't so called classics! Enjoying being part of the #AnythingGoes linky

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    1. Same here, just took me a while to accept that!
      Thank you, it's great having you be part of it, I really enjoy your posts :)

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  7. I've read most of these, but North & South has completely defeated me! #anythingoes

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    1. We all have our booky nemesis lol :)

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  8. Such great choices...and a couple that I have actually read. Little Women is surely a great classic for me. Thanks again for hosting #anythinggoes.

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    1. I think I'm put off Little Women a bit because I already know what happens to most of the characters. You're welcome :)

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  9. I adore reading but I'm not convinced I'd love any of these. Maybe I should try and find out, but I read for pleasure, not because I'm told to - #thelist

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    1. Same here, I'm glad I'm not the only one!

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  10. This is something I have decided I no longer care about lol. I did my degree in English and so I have read a lot of classics and more Shakespeare plays than I can count. But there are a lot of classics I haven't read - Little Women is one that springs to mind and if I'm honest these days I read a lot of trash - easy reading romances, fantasy, paranormal novels. And I have decided it doesn't matter. Reading is reading, it is about pleasure and better to read trash than not at all. Life is for living :)

    Great post.
    #thelist

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    1. I totally agree. If I try to read something I don't like, it takes me ages to get through it because I don't want to read it!

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  11. There are lots of boring Classics but some of them are great! Of Mice and Men is a very easy read. I have taught it 15 times at school and I still love it! Go on, give it a try! #TheList

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    1. If I ever do cave and read some of these, I'll start with that one lol

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  12. They are in my list as well but I currently have no time for reading which is sad. I love to read the Animal Farm again. I think I might have read it for school book report. The idea and lesson in that book is just something that we can all learn from to. #sharewithme

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    1. I like the theory behind it I just don't think I would enjoy reading it

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  13. Good list. And I've actually read all but 3 of them. But interestingly not through education. I'm quite stubborn and if I feel forced to do it I won't. Saying that I love reading so when I got past my stubborn nature I read these. Thanks for linking up with us on the #bigfatlinky hope to see you there this week.

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    1. I love reading too but I think after studying the so called classics I now enjoy something a bit lighter. Thanks for hosting, I'll be there :)

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  14. great list i have read of mice and men which i love! and lord of the rings well that is what my dad used to read to me at bed time anyways! i love reading but life is so busy at the end of the day i just like to read a really easy book usually utter crud but thats my favourite! thanks for sharing on #sundaystars

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    1. Same here - I read to relax now and I want it to be easy reading :) My dad loves LOTR lol must be a dad thing! Thanks for hosting :)

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  15. I have the Complete Works of Shakespeare, but I certainly haven't read all of it. Before I had children, I reread Hamlet at least once a year, to the point where I have it in its own edition so I don't have to bust out The Complete Works. It's a favourite. I've read all of the books on that list except War and Peace. I confess to loving the classics.

    Thanks for linking with #TwinklyTuesday.

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    1. I quite enjoyed Hamlet. I don't have anything against the classics as such, its more that people tell me I have to read them rather than it being a choice. Thanks for hosting :)

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  16. Thats an interesting list for sure! Thanks for linking up with #MMWBH

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    1. Thank you and thanks for hosting :)

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  17. These are fantastic classics and I have had the pleasure of reading many of them and I really can say I did enjoy them too. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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    1. Maybe one day I'll give in and read them lol. Thank you for hosting :)

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