A couple months ago, GQ Magazine posted an article titled 21 Books You Don’t Have to Read…and many of them are classics. As I non-English major in college, I’ve read an embarrassingly small number of the “classics.” I read some of them in high school, but honestly, The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Great Gatsby are the only ones I remember. Wait, I think I read Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and The Sun Also Rises too, but I couldn’t tell you a thing about them.
This is kind of embarrassing since people assume, because I’m a book blogger and avid reader, that I am (or should be) well versed in the classics. I’m absolutely not. I haven’t read Jane Austen (which kills my mother), Tolstoy, or Flannery O’Connor. And, I hadn’t read Margaret Atwood until a couple years ago. I’m still trying to make time to read something of hers other than The Handmaid’s Tale (my review).
We were assigned a huge term paper (the kind that involved tons of research and took most of the year to write) our junior year in high school and most of my classmates took this opportunity to delve deep into one of the classics. What did I do? I delved deep into true crime. I wrote my paper on Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. It was an odd choice and I’m sure my teacher toyed with not letting me do it. But, I don’t regret it for a second. I still love true crime to this day and have a continued fascination with Truman Capote.
Every year, I say I’ll make time for a classic or two. But, it never happens and I feel bad about it and I’m not sure why. I’m not in school anymore. I don’t HAVE to read these classics. I’m pretty sure people aren’t going to think I’m stupid because I haven’t read them…and, if they do, I don’t want to be friends with those intellectual snobs anyway! But, I still feel guilty.
So, thank you to GQ Magazine for releasing me from this guilt!
Some Classics GQ Says You Don’t Have to Read
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
I can do without masculine bluster…
Hemingway’s novels—with their masculine bluster and clipped sentences—sometimes feel almost parodic to me.
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
I mean, I thought Circe was “written in an impenetrable style”…so, I’m sure this one isn’t for me.
[…] written in an impenetrable style that combines Faulkner and the King James Bible, Blood Meridian is a big, forbidding book that earns the reader bragging rights but provides scant pleasure.
John Adams by David McCullough
Dry and boring do not work for me right now…I don’t care if I’m supposed to be learning something along the way.
[…] his books are written with great care and impressive attention to detail. They also happen to be the driest, boringest tomes you’ll ever sludge through.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
A missing story is a no-go…especially with fantasy.
It never seemed to me that Tolkien cared about his story as much as he cared about rendering, in minute detail, the world he built.
A Few Classics I DO Still Want to Read
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
In my first Readers Recommend post, one of my blog readers said it’s one of the few classics that will make you laugh out loud. Plus, it helps that I don’t remember this one being on a single school reading list when I was in school.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Because a number of people have said this is their favorite Austen novel.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Because my mother keeps telling me I must…and I love the first line.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
I’ve heard it’s dark and the closest a classic will get to “thriller.”
Tell me, how do y’all feel about the classics? Do you feel guilty not having read some of the big ones? Or, am I the only one who hasn’t read them all?