Five on Friday: The classics I haven’t read

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As an English student, there are certain books that people expect to have read and enjoyed. In reality, many of the canonical classics are sat abandoned on my bookshelf, with scraps of paper marking the point where I gave up on them, usually around 100 pages in. I used to feel bad about this but now I’m shameless in abandoning books that I don’t enjoy. If it’s not for my course, I’m reading it for fun and I just don’t have time to suffer through books because I ‘should’ read them. One day, I may re-attempt them but for now, they’re gathering a lot of dust on my bookshelf.

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This always feels like a crime to admit but I cannot get through Pride and Prejudice. I’ve tried, believe me, but always call it a day before I’m even halfway through. I want to enjoy it, or at least read it since it’s always popping up on my courses or at least in conversation. I’ve shelved it for now, with the attention of trying one more time when I have graduated and have a little more time to dedicate to it. Maybe it will be one that I take my time with, reading a chapter or so at a go, in order to limit my frustration.

Jane Eyre should have been a hit with me. I love gothic books and popular culture means that I know all the spoilers for this one. Said spoilers certainly hint that it’s up my street but I’ve never been able to get to the juicy bits before I cast it aside in boredom. Can we start the creepy bits a little earlier please?

Charles Dickens has always been a challenge for me. I had to read Great Expectations for a class and that made me do it but I can’t bring myself to read anything else. I think a lot of it is the size of the texts if I’m honest! If only they were still published as serials, I may have more of a chance with something like Oliver Twist or Bleak House.

I read Anna Karenina in a second-year course and surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it. Even if  I struggled with working out all the names, I suddenly got the hype. In the aftermath of this excitement, I decided to give War and Peace a try…This plan was quickly abandoned as I just couldn’t cope with the first few chapters. I did love the BBC adaptation though, so surely U get some credit for that. Right?

Everyone always tells me that I HAVE to read A Clockwork Orange but I just can’t bring myself to do it. One look at all that complicated language and I was out! Again, maybe one day I will give this a go but for now, I can’t bear to even give it a go.

Which classic books have you not read?

Kelly x

9 thoughts on “Five on Friday: The classics I haven’t read

  1. I’m a big fan of DNF-ing a book I don’t like. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with classics. I will pick them up because they are usually cheap/free on Kindle and then I’ll give them a go.

    I’ve never tried to read Pride and Prejudice, but it’s free as a Kindle book and Audiobook this month on Amazon, so I thought about picking it up. But chances are, I won’t like it. Don’t feel bad, it’s just not meant to be haha.

    I think Oliver Twist might be alright, I feel like I might like since I did enjoy the film. But then, if it’s a long book that takes too long to get into, I’ll probably leave it and just think of the film instead!

    Urgh, A Clockwork Orange. I DNF-ed that and it’s only 100 pages or so. I just couldn’t. Not even a little bit. I just didn’t understand what was going on, I needed some kind of translation dictionary or something.

    One classic I did enjoy was The Secret Garden, OK it’s a kids book, but it’s actually really fun to read. I listened to it on Audiobook and it’s one of my favourites this year.

    I’ve also given up on Dracula, The Great Gatsby… I hated Dorian Grey, that was the most boring book in existence.

    Yeah me and classics, we don’t get along.

  2. I’m the same with Pride and Prejudice. I’ve tried like five times and every time I give up! I just don’t get it! I’m glad it’s not only me :)

  3. I’m personally not a fan of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens in general. I really like Charles Dickens’ characters but find myself losing interest in his stories. There’s so many classics I feel I should have read by now, but thinking more specifically in terms of the books I encountered during my degree, I’d say that the two I didn’t get on with but would like to revisit are Ulysses and Middlemarch. I was never expected to read the whole of Ulysses, but am kind of curious about it. With Middlemarch, it was just a case of bad timing! Other writers I’ve struggled to enjoy are Joseph Conrad, Yeats and Wordsworth.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only ones who has texts they struggle with! There’s definitely been a few through my degree! x

  4. I have read and love all of these! I love a challenge when it comes to reading “difficult” books, but there are a few that I didn’t manage to finish (not sure they’re what you’d call classics though): The Magic Mountain (Thomas Mann); Ghormenghast Trilogy (Mervyn Peake) – got to the final instalment and then gave up; Paradise Lost (John Milton) – I really, really tried!

  5. I know I’m late to the the party here, but “Bleak House” is an amazing book. I graduated in English Lit many moons ago and it was on our reading list. I’d actually always THOUGHT I despised Dickens, as at secondary school we were always given abdridged versions, which contained none of the wonderful descriptions that Dickens is capable of. But I loved “Bleak House”, and went on to Love “Great Expectations” and “Little Dorritt”. They are very long books, but I managed to get in an hour a day of each book on my commute to and from work, which meant I was able to read them faster. And once I’d got a chapter or two in, I was totally hooked by all of them.

    My guilty Classics secret is that I have always been put off by long books (I never get enough time as I’d like to read), so I never even bother starting most of them. But I’m so glad I overcame that with Dickens. I’m proud of how far I actually got with Ulysses. Apparently there is a book club somewhere devoted to only studying Ulysses. They’ve been going for years and they’re only on page 47 or something, lol.

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