Thursday, February 6, 2014

Classics: Those I Loved, Those I Hated

We usually talk about newer books here on the B-Drag, so you may not know this, but I've spent a lot of time reading classics.  I started reading them because I was assigned to read them in school, but I've never stopped.  Classic literature feeds my mind in ways nothing else can.

However, I haven't loved every classic I've read.  Here are a few that left me feeling more apathetic than enlightened.  (I've also included some that I loved, just to even things out.)

Don Quixote
I've read plenty of books that compete with this one in length, but never have I read a book that was so bloated.

Lord of the Flies
Never have I read a book that left me feeling so hopeless.  I simply cannot accept that humankind is universally this bad.

I had a severely negative reaction to this book, and had a really hard time shaking off the mental and emotional weight it left me with.

The Grapes of Wrath
Each page was painful.  My horrible experience with this book is probably why I have yet to read East of Eden, which has been recommended to me about a thousand times, and which I have passed over a thousand times in favor of Grey's Anatomy episodes.

Great Expectations
I feel more apathy than dislike towards this book.  I recognize it's value, but I'm just not a fan of Dickens' writing style.

And, for balance, here are some I loved:

To Kill a Mockingbird
A lot of people love this book, and it's easy to see why.  So insightful, witty, thoughtful, and warm.  It's nice to know that classics don't all have to be doom-and-gloom-y.

Catcher in the Rye
I wouldn't say that this book was fun to read, but it was certainly illuminating.  It's one of those books that make me learn something new every time I pick it up.

The Scarlet Letter
I find this whole story extremely fascinating.  It was written so long ago (it was published in 1850) and yet sometimes I feel like nothing has changed.

The Quiet American
I have yet to meet anyone who likes this book as much as I do.  I found it simultaneously hopeless and hopeful and infuriating and encouraging.  Incredibly written.

Age of Innocence
I've had a bit of a crush on Edith Wharton ever since I read this book.  The theme of change and all its implications have never been so wonderfully or so completely portrayed.

What do you think?  Are there any classics that you just don't like?  Did I get any wrong?  Should I give any another chance?

Many thanks to Stacked for providing the idea for this post!


  1. I haven't read many classics (literally less than a handful) but I really loved To Kill a Mockingbird and Pride & Prejudice. I didn't like Catcher in the Rye at all!

    1. I love TKAM and P&P! CitR seems like one of those books that people either love or hate, so if you didn't like it you're in good company at least!

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. I admittedly didn't read most of the classics when I was supposed to (high school English classes killed my love to read for a good ten years), but I'm actually trying to go through a bunch of them and read them and see what I think now that I don't have to write a book report on the symbolism of some obscure thing in chapter six.

    But I REALLY like The Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird. And I tried to read The Scarlet Letter & Huckleberry Finn in high school and almost died of boredom (same with Pride and Prejudice). We'll see how it goes this time around. :)

    1. Isn't it funny how differently people respond to the same book? You hated The Scarlet Letter, but I couldn't put it down.

      Good luck with your classics reading! I'm especially curious as to what you thought of 1984.

  3. Oh, and I was supposed to read Don Quixote in Spanish. That book... I hate few books with the passion I hate that one. Even Cliff's Notes couldn't redeem it.

    1. AMEN. That book was torture. I had to read the unabridged version for a comparative literature class in my undergrad. I've never forgiven that professor.

  4. I haven't read many classics so far, but I loved To Kill a Mockingbird! It's definitely a good classic to read. I read both Lord of the Flies (which I didn't like much) and The Grapes of Wrath (which I really liked, though it was a bit tough to get through) last year. I've tried reading Great Expectations twice, but I've never been able to get much past halfway. I intend to read Catcher in the Rye, though.

    1. It sounds like we have very similar taste! (Except for Grapes of Wrath, but I think I'm in the minority on that one anyway.) Good luck with Catcher in the Rye! I loved reading that one, but more because of what I got out of it than because of the writing style.


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