Monday, March 1, 2010

A "classic" is something everybody talks about but nobody reads

Having just finished a delightful piece of fluff in "Cousin Kate" (all of Georgette Heyer's books are fluff, but very delightful fluff) I've decided to read "Vanity Fair."  All 864 pages of it.  I find I've been re-reading a lot of my favorites, and not touching the books that I bought but haven't read.  So I'm alternating.  I can re-read something, but then I have to read a book I own that I've yet to crack.

There are all these "classic" books that I've never read.  Vanity Fair, War and Peace, most Dickens novels (I think I'm up to three of his; I do wish the first half of "A Tale of Two Cities" wasn't so dull so I could read it again.), Lolita, anything by James Joyce, anything by Faulkner, Atlas Shrugged, Slaughterhouse Five, Catch-22, Gone with the Wind...so many books that we all talk about and that, as a English-majoring book lover, people expect me to have read.  Yeah, well, there are a lot of books, and only so much time to read them in.

Besides, there are lots that I've read that I don't really care for.  Anything by Toni Morrison, what little Faulkner and Joyce I've read--I just don't feel like I should have to have a what-beats-what card to figure out a novel's stream of consciousness--the da Vinci Code, Midwives (thanks for nothing, Oprah), etc.

Often,I feel they're overrated, for any number of reasons.  "Anna Karenina," for instance was dreadfully dull.  It didn't help that I had the ending ruined for me (by a musical, no less) when I still had about 900 pages to go.  "I thought everyone knew the end of Anna Karenina," my friend exclaimed when I told him during intermission what had happened. No, not everyone, it turns out.  I did slog through it, but it was terrible.  Perhaps my edition didn't help.  Bad translations make for a long 1100 pages.

"Madame Bovary" I also did not care for.  I don't like "adultery for adultery's sake" novels, may the French and Russians please take note.  I don't care for adultery in general--shocking, I know--but when that's the entire plot...bleck.  I didn't even finish that one.

"The House of Sand and Fog" is a contemporary one I've heard talked about quite a bit, though I had no idea what it was about until I started it.  I didn't finish it either.  Too depressing and...what's the word?..."earthy."  If I want my entertainment to comprise of sex and swearing, I'll get Cinemax.  Didn't finish that one either.  There are good books I could be reading, I'm not going to waste my time with bad ones.

There are lots more.  Maybe it's because I've heard so much about them that they get talked up too much.  Or maybe they're just not as good as people make them out to be.  Maybe I have unusual taste.  At any rate, I've given up wasting my time with bad books.  If it's no good halfway through, finishing it isn't going to make it better.

I'm always on the look out for new things to read.  I really want to read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books.  I only have the first two Artemis Fowl books.  (I'm a big fan of children's lit.)  Everyone swears the Lord of the Rings is much better than the Hobbit, so maybe I'll give them a try.  I'd like to collect some Boxcar Children books.  Oh, and some Trixie Belden, if I can find them.

What else should I add to my reading list? Anything to avoid?

8 comments:

  1. Take Gone With the Wind off that list. 1000 page waste of your life. Unless you are crazy excited about civil war history and not so much about the actual plot line...

    I'm sorry, she whined way too much.

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  2. That's how I feel about the movie, too. I was fairly young when I saw it, but by the time it was over, I didn't give a damn, either.

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  3. "You have the smallest waist in Georgia, you had, what, three husbands? You started your own business about something you knew NOTHING about and you were succesful, you got to move back to your home... And you're still not happy!?"

    And I just don't like the dresses at the time. Didn't like the hoops.

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  4. Lord of the Rings- boooooring. Terrible in fact. I read the first book; and saw the first movie. That was more than enough.

    I love the fantasy genre. It's just that everything else is better than Lord of the Rings.

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  5. There are lots of books out there that are worth reading, some not, and some are probably read because someone high-falutin' thought that they exhibited a bunch of symbolism, imagery and whatnot and THAT was the message.

    I've been keeping a book blog of the ones that I've read over at:

    http://readers-advisory-janene.blogspot.com/

    although it's a bit out-dated. I also don't rate whether I like it or not, just that I've read it.

    That being said, some of my favourite authors are: John Irving (read his earlier stuff when he wasn't so focused on regurgitating his life story), Madeleine L'Engle (children's author -- A Wrinkle in Time is her well-known book, but I like her Austin series better), Charlaine Harris (Sookie!), Meg Cabot (her "boy" series is good fun) and probably tons others that I just can't think of (or don't want to type out).

    Let me know if you'd like some recommendations....

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  6. I am halfway through the third Percy Jackson book now, and I'm really enjoying the series. Much simpler plot than Harry Potter, but sometimes, that's nice. I also recently saw the movie. It was very different, but I think could be accepted as a good movie, separate from the book. Pick these books up if you need an entertaining break for your brain.

    wv: tryiness - does this measure how much you try?

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  7. Aww...I *loved* reading Gone With The Wind (she had a whole other child that wasn't in the movie!). But I liked the movie first.

    Atlas Shrugged was good. Lolita was kind of weird (go figure). Eric loves One Hundred Years of Solitude. We both like Albert Camus. As for non-classics...Eric just read Born to Run, and I'm about to re-read The Unlikely Disciple.

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  8. I also loved Gone With The Wind the book. Thought the movie didn't do it justice. And I also liked The Hobbit better than the Lord of the Rings.
    Maybe I'm just a rebel.

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Be nice.