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What classics are actually good, enjoyable reads?

Just saying, I've tried.

by Anonymousreply 275April 28, 2023 11:33 PM

Jane Eyre - Emily Bronte

Around the World in 80 Days - Jules Verne

Gargantua and Pantagruel -- especially when inventing the arsewipe - Rabelais

Emma - Jane Austen

for starters

for starters

by Anonymousreply 1March 16, 2023 12:16 AM

oops, sorry for the redundancy.

by Anonymousreply 2March 16, 2023 12:17 AM

Grapes of Wrath is very good.

by Anonymousreply 3March 16, 2023 12:19 AM

I remember liking Wuthering Heights. I don't remember what it was about.

by Anonymousreply 4March 16, 2023 12:19 AM

The first classic I ever read was Jane Eyre — had to read it in junior high. I’ve read tons of other classics since then but that was an easy read as far as classics go.

by Anonymousreply 5March 16, 2023 12:22 AM

Ahaha here's a review of Wuthering Heights when it came out in 1847:

Graham's Lady Magazine wrote: "How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery. It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors"

by Anonymousreply 6March 16, 2023 12:23 AM

Classics are not "reads," Philistine.

by Anonymousreply 7March 16, 2023 12:23 AM

Define "classic" OP. Plenty of the 20th century ones are, and even some late 19th century. But the further back you go the harder it is, no matter who did the translation or the abridgement.

Anything that has seen the Classics Illustrated or graphic novel treatment should be easier, and you may want to watch the movie first just to get images of the characters.

by Anonymousreply 8March 16, 2023 12:24 AM

Idk if Sherlock Homes counts, but that was readable. I'd love to read Don Quixote but it was just not readable for me. I mean I understood about 90% of everything but it took me like twice as long at least lol.

by Anonymousreply 9March 16, 2023 12:25 AM

Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre. Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights.

I detested Wuthering Heights.

by Anonymousreply 10March 16, 2023 12:25 AM

Hey uh R7 go suck a tailpipe.

by Anonymousreply 11March 16, 2023 12:26 AM

They are “reads” just like any other fiction, snob. Nobody thought of them as being highbrow at the time. Just the opposite.

by Anonymousreply 12March 16, 2023 12:27 AM

Heart of Darkness is very enjoyable

by Anonymousreply 13March 16, 2023 12:28 AM

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

by Anonymousreply 14March 16, 2023 12:29 AM

Anna Karenina is a page turner.

War and Peace is too, but you have to get through the (very readable, interesting and gossipy) multiple character introductions before the book really takes off. That takes about 50 pages. But when it does take off, it is unputdownable from that point forward.

by Anonymousreply 15March 16, 2023 12:30 AM

The Leopard

by Anonymousreply 16March 16, 2023 12:31 AM

R15 why is it so compelling?

by Anonymousreply 17March 16, 2023 12:34 AM

Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

by Anonymousreply 18March 16, 2023 12:36 AM

East of Eden. Steinbeck is easy to read; my 14 year old read many of his short stories which are enjoyable too.

by Anonymousreply 19March 16, 2023 12:36 AM

r17 Well, I didn't know too much about the story at all when I read it (at 15 or so) and I remember, to my relative shock, that I stayed up all night reading it. I just kept thinking, just a few more pages, then I'll turn the light out, over and over, and then suddenly the sun was up. I basically finished it in 24 hours without ever setting out to do so.

And to think I only picked it up because I thought it was a boring "ought to" read, and it was the summer vac. so I had some time. It was absolutely great.

by Anonymousreply 20March 16, 2023 12:40 AM

I was delightfully surprised that Crime and Punishment was such an enjoyable read. It took me 3 days to read

by Anonymousreply 21March 16, 2023 12:40 AM

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

by Anonymousreply 22March 16, 2023 12:41 AM

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Manchurian Candidate

Advise and Consent

by Anonymousreply 23March 16, 2023 12:41 AM

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Anonymousreply 24March 16, 2023 12:41 AM

Is Giovanni's Room considered a classic?

by Anonymousreply 25March 16, 2023 12:42 AM

Tender is the Night A Moveable Feast!

by Anonymousreply 26March 16, 2023 12:42 AM

at r20 I'm referring to Anna Karenina. War and Peace was also a fast read, but a much longer book. Loved them both.

Also seconding the poster who mentioned Crime and Punishment. which is absolutely fantastic.

by Anonymousreply 27March 16, 2023 12:45 AM

A Moveable Feast

by Anonymousreply 28March 16, 2023 12:51 AM

The Bell Jar

by Anonymousreply 29March 16, 2023 12:52 AM

Barry Lyndon. A very, very good book and an excellent movie as well. Once is not enough, by Jaqueline Susann. A really good book, you won't be sorry if you read it.

by Anonymousreply 30March 16, 2023 12:52 AM

The Stranger by Albert Camus was a fairly easy, enjoyable book... I thought I would have a hard time with any book belonging to the fancy-named genre"French Existentialism" but it was an easy read.

by Anonymousreply 31March 16, 2023 12:52 AM

OP, sometimes a good place to start is wit. Try reading the essays of Mark Twain. I also agree on Steinbeck. I also happen to love Willa Cather.

by Anonymousreply 32March 16, 2023 12:53 AM

For those of you who love Crime and Punishment, you'll adore The Brothers Karamazov.

by Anonymousreply 33March 16, 2023 12:54 AM

The Outsider. I read in 9th grade

by Anonymousreply 34March 16, 2023 12:55 AM

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

by Anonymousreply 35March 16, 2023 12:55 AM

I've heard that so many times, r33, and I've still yet to read it. Thank you for the reminder. That's my next read.

by Anonymousreply 36March 16, 2023 12:55 AM

R20 you were 15. Reread it again and let us know if it's still great.

by Anonymousreply 37March 16, 2023 12:56 AM

Agree with The Picture of Dorian Gray. It's entertaining and super gay!

by Anonymousreply 38March 16, 2023 12:57 AM

Dostoevsky is what makes me see heart in Russia.

by Anonymousreply 39March 16, 2023 12:58 AM

I loved reading fiction when I was a kid. I would devour books all up to high-school. However after over 10 years of higher learning, reading has now almost become a chore for me. Since I finished my studies, I haven't been able to aenjoy a good read. It's been almost a year.

by Anonymousreply 40March 16, 2023 12:59 AM

The Three Musketeers, which is many times better than any of the film or TV adaptations.

by Anonymousreply 41March 16, 2023 12:59 AM

Madame Bovary

Mrs. Dalloway

The Great Gatsby

by Anonymousreply 42March 16, 2023 12:59 AM

Gone With the Wind

by Anonymousreply 43March 16, 2023 1:01 AM

Lord of the fries

by Anonymousreply 44March 16, 2023 1:03 AM

"Finnegan's Wake"

And it's traditional, OP, to tear out each page when you finish it and eat it.

Start tonight.

by Anonymousreply 45March 16, 2023 1:04 AM

Orwell’s 1984 is extremely readable.

by Anonymousreply 46March 16, 2023 1:05 AM

Great Gatsby is really beautiful prose.

by Anonymousreply 47March 16, 2023 1:05 AM

Another total pageturner is The Moonstne by Wilkie Collins. The first 'detective mystery' style book. Having said that, it really is just a "pageturner" because it uses hooks on every page. It doesn't have the lyricism or insight of the others I mentioned.

Still good, though. Gladstone apparently skipped an official dinner as Prime Minister because he couldn't put it down, having started it in the bath before said dinner.

by Anonymousreply 48March 16, 2023 1:06 AM

Animal Farm, Shane and Slaughterhouse Five

by Anonymousreply 49March 16, 2023 1:08 AM

I remember reading Gatsby in high school and hating it, but then I read it a few years ago and found it profoundly moving.

Similarly, I disliked 1984 in HS, but read it a few years back and found it riveting.

In contrast, I loved Brave New World when I was young, but tried reading it a few years back and found myself losing interest and ended up not bothering to finish reading it.

Re Wilkie Collins, mentioned @ R48: Not long ago I read a short story of his - "The Biter Bit" - and it was one of the funniest things I've ever read.

It's so delightfully sarcastic, I found myself laughing out loud.

by Anonymousreply 50March 16, 2023 1:12 AM

I like and appreciate The Great Gatsby, but I enjoy The Beautiful and the Damned more. It may be “simpler” in some ways, but I think it is an easier read, more direct themes, and more enjoyable.

by Anonymousreply 51March 16, 2023 1:16 AM

Brideshead Revisited is a simply gorgeous, poignant, read. Waugh at his very best.

by Anonymousreply 52March 16, 2023 1:18 AM

The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.

My ex-wife Aunt Esther left in her LA Jolla home the entire Edith Wharton collection (1st edition-signed) plus Bram Stoker Dracula& Mary Shelley Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde(RLS-all 1st editions hardbacks).

by Anonymousreply 53March 16, 2023 1:21 AM

I thought OP was asking for opinions on page turners and enjoyable reads not random classics

by Anonymousreply 54March 16, 2023 1:24 AM

The Wizard of Oz

by Anonymousreply 55March 16, 2023 1:28 AM

I enjoyed Booth Tarkington's "The Magnificent Ambersons" for the same reasons I enjoyed the Welles film- except for the film's flawed happy ending. It was interesting to see how the novel finishes off the fate of George Amberson. If you liked the movie, you should check it out.

by Anonymousreply 56March 16, 2023 1:30 AM

Anything by Jack London. Hatchet, White Fang, Call of the Wild, etc. Very quick reads, middle school-level prose.

by Anonymousreply 57March 16, 2023 1:42 AM

Great Expectations

Anna Karenina

War and Peace

Anthony Trollope's novels

The Woman in White

The Man in the Iron Mask

Kristin Lavransdatter

by Anonymousreply 58March 16, 2023 1:46 AM

L.P. Hartley's The Go-between. It's beautiful and ruthless and cruel. For or non-UK readers, it deals with class, and you must remember this if anything confuses you. Also try We by Zamyatin. A perfect dystopian novel in 140 pages. Huxley and Orwell seem poor writers in comparison.

by Anonymousreply 59March 16, 2023 1:53 AM

R1 Gargantua & Pantagruel is hilarious & that passage is indeed the apex.

by Anonymousreply 60March 16, 2023 1:59 AM

Wilkie Collins is a good one to start with too. He wrote tons of novels, most of which I’ve read. I actually enjoyed The Moonstone the least of all his books.

But his writing style is easy to follow and he created some very appealing characters.

by Anonymousreply 61March 16, 2023 2:10 AM

Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

by Anonymousreply 62March 16, 2023 2:14 AM

Dangerous Liaisons Pride and Predjudice War & Peace (borrows a bit from P & P) Lolita On the Road A Tree Grows in Brooklyn The Odyssey Ironweed Confederacy of Dunces Jane Eyre Great Expectations

by Anonymousreply 63March 16, 2023 2:15 AM

Catcher in the Rye

by Anonymousreply 64March 16, 2023 2:16 AM

^^^Dangerous Liaisons, Pride and Prejudice, War & Peace, Lolita, On the Road, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Odyssey, Ironweed, Confederacy of Dunces, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations (I forgot that line breaks disappear here)^^^

by Anonymousreply 65March 16, 2023 2:16 AM

Actually, most all classics are "good reads" after all that why they are "classic's" !

by Anonymousreply 66March 16, 2023 2:19 AM

"The Grapes of Wrath." And another vote for "The Great Gatsby."

by Anonymousreply 67March 16, 2023 2:20 AM

"The Scarlet Letter," by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

by Anonymousreply 68March 16, 2023 2:21 AM

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

by Anonymousreply 69March 16, 2023 2:26 AM

Dickens and Tolstoy both wrote what, at the time, was considered popular fiction for the masses (Dickens was even serialized)

So you should find their works easy to get through and very plot-driven.

With the Russians, it helps to have a little cheat sheet with the names at first - Russians have nicknames that are often unrelated to their real names and Boris and Natasha will be having a conversation and then Tatiana will come in and say "Misha! You have a letter!" and you have no idea who Misha is until you eventually realize it is Boris's nickname and that he is also "Count Badenov"

But easy enough to sort out and should not impinge on your enjoyment.

by Anonymousreply 70March 16, 2023 2:27 AM

Speaking of Dickens, "David Copperfield" is a very enjoyable read.

by Anonymousreply 71March 16, 2023 2:29 AM

The Ambassadors The Portrait of a Lady

The House of Mirth Custom of the Country

The Transit of Venus

Burger’s Daughter A Sport of Nature - these aren’t classics but they’re very good

Howard’s End

by Anonymousreply 72March 16, 2023 2:32 AM

Vanity Fair is a good read and should appeal to DLers with its emphasis on manners and Things That Are Upper Class.

by Anonymousreply 73March 16, 2023 2:33 AM

Past Imperfect by Joan Collins

by Anonymousreply 74March 16, 2023 2:38 AM

I enjoyed Homer.

by Anonymousreply 75March 16, 2023 2:41 AM

Somerset Maugham's short stories

by Anonymousreply 76March 16, 2023 2:41 AM

Another vote for House of Mirth.

by Anonymousreply 77March 16, 2023 2:49 AM

A Passage to India, Forster —- or anything else by him

Great Expectations —- Dickens

The Great Gatsby — Fitzgerald

Edith Wharton is very entertaining. Start with a book of her short stories, then try House of Mirth


Not considered great literature, but highly readable, semi-forgotten classics by Sherwood Anderson (Winesburg, Ohio) and William Saroyan (The Human Comedy)

Anything by Steinbeck

Jane Austen - you may like Emma or Persuasion to start. Mansfield Park is my favorite but I’m in the minority there.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

by Anonymousreply 78March 16, 2023 2:56 AM

Speaking of Edith Wharton, I really like her ghost stories, too

by Anonymousreply 79March 16, 2023 2:56 AM

Anything by Shakespeare

by Anonymousreply 80March 16, 2023 2:57 AM

Flannery O'Connor's short stories (all of them). I guess you either like it or you don't. I love her writing, though.

Great Gatsby, another vote for this.

East of Eden (Steinbeck), another vote for this.

The Stranger (Camus). Yes, easy to read. IMO, not enjoyable.

by Anonymousreply 81March 16, 2023 4:03 AM

Barbie's New York Summer

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 82March 16, 2023 4:07 AM

I've been reading a lot of Herman Melville recently, OP. My favorite gay American novelist. Billy Budd is a masterwork, but Moby Dick is as good as hyped too. His short stories are a blast. Everything is extremely homoerotic.

by Anonymousreply 83March 16, 2023 4:14 AM

r78 - I love Saki, I think he was the original dataloungers

I really liked Winesburg, Ohio as well

by Anonymousreply 84March 16, 2023 4:48 AM

Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of the best books I've ever read.

I think it is a classic.

Great Expectations is a highly enjoyable read as well.

by Anonymousreply 85March 16, 2023 4:52 AM

Uh, that should be "datalounger"

by Anonymousreply 86March 16, 2023 4:53 AM

Lord of the Flies - is 'evil' really just the will to have power. Scary, sad, true.

by Anonymousreply 87March 16, 2023 5:09 AM

The Red and BlacK

Death in Venice

by Anonymousreply 88March 16, 2023 10:10 AM

[quote] "Grapes of Wrath is very good."

I'll second that, R3. It's the only Steinbeck I've read so far (sadly), but it's excellent. Very cinematic.

"The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow" is my addition to the list. The story is probably familiar to most here, but it's very richly told. I'd love to design a stage production.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 89March 16, 2023 10:52 AM

Another vote for Kristin Lavransdatter, War and Peace (and Bondarchuk's film), Call of the Wild, Grapes of Wrath, Brideshead Revisited, The Magnificent Ambersons (and the film), Lord of the Flies . . .

and . . .

Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Melville, Moby Dick

O Henry/Guy de Maupassant (brilliant short stories)

Kafka, Metamorphosis

Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago

Huxley, Brave New World

Orwell, 1984

Sholokhov, And Quiet Flows the Don (Tikhi Don)

For the hard-core: Herodotus, Histories

by Anonymousreply 90March 16, 2023 11:36 AM

It’s been a long time since I’ve read them, but works by Faulkner, like Absalom, Absalom, and The Sound and the Fury were very interesting to me. The latter with the whole Benjy thing, and the former with its story within a story. I recommend them.

by Anonymousreply 91March 16, 2023 2:08 PM

Lots of great recommendations here. I'd add BLEAK HOUSE, CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY, IN COLD BLOOD, BARCHESTER TOWERS, E.F. Bension;s LUCIA novels, and echo the vote for MADAME BOVARY, especially the Lydia Davis translation.

by Anonymousreply 92March 16, 2023 2:23 PM

R73, Vanity Fair, along with the novels of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope, might as well be Datalounge in book form. Bitchy queens verbally sparring for hundreds of pages, only Thackeray doesn't say cunt quite so often. Becky Sharp would definitely have "an" onlyfans.

by Anonymousreply 93March 16, 2023 2:39 PM

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Anonymousreply 94March 16, 2023 2:42 PM

Balzac's "Pere Goriot," "Cousin Bette," and "Cousin Pons."

"To Kill a Mockingbird"

Trollope's "Phineas Finn"

Everything by D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf

by Anonymousreply 95March 16, 2023 2:57 PM

I found "The Count of Monte Cristo a good, enjoyable read in every version I've assayed. If the current 500+ page edition is too much, I found this version very enjoyable after I'd finished the Classics Illustrated comic book. It even has pictures.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 96March 16, 2023 3:05 PM

Yes. Finally saw it at r94 this book lives in my heart.

by Anonymousreply 97March 16, 2023 3:16 PM

R79, love all your suggestions. DL has so many real readers.

by Anonymousreply 98March 16, 2023 5:28 PM

Oops, I meant R78. But agree with R79, too, about Wharton's ghost stories.

by Anonymousreply 99March 16, 2023 5:30 PM

Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks

by Anonymousreply 100March 16, 2023 5:40 PM

R100, I had a class in college in which I was supposed to read Buddenbrooks, but I didn’t read even a page of it. I still have the paperback from 40 years ago and for some reason, I have a goal to read it, to do what I was supposed to do back then. It looks so daunting though. I’ve thought about getting an audiobook of it instead.

by Anonymousreply 101March 16, 2023 7:24 PM

It's great, r101. I really enjoyed it.

by Anonymousreply 102March 16, 2023 7:31 PM

My Pussy, My Friend by Margaret Snatcher

by Anonymousreply 103March 16, 2023 7:36 PM

Recently reread The Picture of Dorian Gray , and, though a children's novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

"He turned round and, walking to the window, drew up the blind. The bright dawn flooded the room and swept the fantastic shadows into dusky corners, where they lay shuddering. But the strange expression that he had noticed in the face of the portrait seemed to linger there, to be more intensified even. The quivering ardent sunlight showed him the lines of cruelty round the mouth as clearly as if he had been looking into a mirror after he had done some dreadful thing.

He winced and, taking up from the table an oval glass framed in ivory Cupids, one of Lord Henry’s many presents to him, glanced hurriedly into its polished depths. No line like that warped his red lips. What did it mean?

He rubbed his eyes, and came close to the picture, and examined it again. There were no signs of any change when he looked into the actual painting, and yet there was no doubt that the whole expression had altered. It was not a mere fancy of his own. The thing was horribly apparent.

He threw himself into a chair and began to think. Suddenly there flashed across his mind what he had said in Basil Hallward’s studio the day the picture had been finished. Yes, he remembered it perfectly. He had uttered a mad wish that he himself might remain young, and the portrait grow old; that his own beauty might be untarnished, and the face on the canvas bear the burden of his passions and his sins; that the painted image might be seared with the lines of suffering and thought, and that he might keep all the delicate bloom and loveliness of his then just conscious boyhood. Surely his wish had not been fulfilled? Such things were impossible. It seemed monstrous even to think of them. And, yet, there was the picture before him, with the touch of cruelty in the mouth."

by Anonymousreply 104March 16, 2023 8:21 PM

Everything by Judy Blume

by Anonymousreply 105March 16, 2023 8:23 PM

All Quiet on the Western Front by Remarque is excellent. Don't worry about the film it's absolutely nothing to do with the book, the book is great.

by Anonymousreply 106March 16, 2023 8:40 PM

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a very good book. Its easy to read and so relatable. I'm sure I'll catch hell for this, but Gone with the Wind is good too.

by Anonymousreply 107March 16, 2023 8:56 PM

Although he seems to be mostly forgotten now, I just read several novels by Sinclair Lewis, highly readable, extremely interesting, and very relevant to today’s times.

I suggest you start with Babbitt or Elmer Gantry, then Arrowsmith and Dodsworth are also really good, and so is Main Street.

It seems human nature has not changed much in the last hundred years.

by Anonymousreply 108March 16, 2023 9:01 PM

A Separate Peace

by Anonymousreply 109March 16, 2023 9:02 PM

Someone above was messing with your head when they said "Heart of Darkness. Yes, it's short, but it's very difficult to get through.

by Anonymousreply 110March 16, 2023 9:20 PM

I agree with "The Magnificent Ambersons", which I also read to see what scenes possibly the Orson Welles films that were infamously cut from the film by the studio. Very enjoyable. I then went on to read Booth Tarkington's "Alice Adams". It's one of Katharine Hepburn's best performances -- interestingly, she pulls off playing a lower-middle class person for once. The book is very good, though the film changed the ending.

by Anonymousreply 111March 16, 2023 9:23 PM

The Magnificent Ambersons has to be one of the most ironic and deceiving titles I’ve ever read.

by Anonymousreply 112March 16, 2023 9:24 PM

I wish Booth Tarkington would have a revival and more of his novels would come out in modern editions. He's great.

by Anonymousreply 113March 16, 2023 9:24 PM

When I see the film of "Magnificent Ambersons" as well as read the book, there's one person who you really want to get his comeuppance. You can easily see comparisons from George Amberson Minafer to someone in the news in contemporary news -- another born to riches who's a brat who grew up be even worse, someone many of us are waiting for his comeuppance. Fingers crossed, maybe it starts in a few days or next week.

by Anonymousreply 114March 16, 2023 9:31 PM

The Old Man and the Sea

by Anonymousreply 115March 16, 2023 9:36 PM

Memoirs of a Geisha

by Anonymousreply 116March 16, 2023 9:36 PM

Catcher in the Rye

by Anonymousreply 117March 16, 2023 9:38 PM

Native Son

by Anonymousreply 118March 16, 2023 9:39 PM

I’ve tried to read The Magnificent Ambersons, and definitely wanted to like it, but couldn’t get past the first chapter or so. The writing is dreadful, and not worth my time to try to plow through it. ,

by Anonymousreply 119March 16, 2023 9:41 PM

The Americans/Henry James Portrait of a Lady/Henry James

by Anonymousreply 120March 16, 2023 9:42 PM

The Crying of Lot 49 Pynchon

by Anonymousreply 121March 16, 2023 9:44 PM

Not as well-known by Americans these days, but J.B. Priestley's 'The Good Companions" is a great novel about a travelling group of performers in the UK. It was made into a musical film first with Jessie Matthews and John Gielgud back in the 1930s, later another film remake and then a stage musical with Judi Dench and John Mills with a great score by Andre Previn and Johnny Mercer. The book is long but delightful, a perfect beach kind of reading for those who like tales of long ago show biz with great characters.

by Anonymousreply 122March 16, 2023 9:49 PM

Agree with R75. The Odyssey in particular is a cracking read. The Iliad requires some patience, I found.

by Anonymousreply 123March 16, 2023 9:49 PM

I highly recommend John Masefield’s The Midnight Folk. It’s a “children’s book”, but I think enjoyable for adults. It’s a mystery novel, with magic.

by Anonymousreply 124March 16, 2023 9:50 PM

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

by Anonymousreply 125March 16, 2023 9:55 PM

Summer by Edith Wharton

by Anonymousreply 126March 16, 2023 9:56 PM

R120. Some years ago I taught a course called The Slow Read in which we read Portrait of a Lady over the course of a semester and met 90 minutes each week to discuss it (it was in an honors program). The students said it was the only way they could make space and time to read a long novel—and parceled out a week at a time, they could enjoy James’ style (they would have found the late James a tough place to begin).

by Anonymousreply 127March 16, 2023 9:59 PM

R127 Late James is tough, but worth it!

by Anonymousreply 128March 16, 2023 10:04 PM

I'd bet Nancy Mitford's "The Pursuit of Love" and "Love in a Cold Climate" would be enjoyed by any Datalounger.

by Anonymousreply 129March 16, 2023 10:21 PM

R129 Thanks for the reminder!

by Anonymousreply 130March 16, 2023 10:22 PM

And her short stories, r129 (and her letters, but that is a different category).

by Anonymousreply 131March 16, 2023 10:25 PM

R128. Oh, I quite agree, but I think the novice does better to begin with The American (as someone suggested), Portrait, Turn of the Screw, or Daisy Miller. The Ambassadors, Wings of the Dove, and The Golden Bowl are best worked up to. The middle “dramatic” ones (Maisie, Poynton, and Awkward Age are accessible because of all the dialogue).

by Anonymousreply 132March 16, 2023 10:49 PM

'Ship of Fools' Katherine Anne Porter- that film needs to be re-made

by Anonymousreply 133March 16, 2023 11:08 PM

Library of America has issued a handsome Tarkington volume with Ambersons, Alice Adams, and some stories.

by Anonymousreply 134March 16, 2023 11:21 PM

[quote]It’s been a long time since I’ve read them, but works by Faulkner, like Absalom, Absalom, and The Sound and the Fury were very interesting to me

I don't know that I'd describe any of Faulkner's books as, "good, enjoyable reads."

by Anonymousreply 135March 16, 2023 11:24 PM

Joris-Karl Huysmans - Against Nature

by Anonymousreply 136March 17, 2023 12:11 AM

To dip your toe into Faulkner, as 'enjoyable' reading, try his short stories first. And Eudora Welty's, another Mississippi genius of "Southern Gothic", along with Tennessee Williams (from Columbus, MS, originally)

Walker Percy of Alabama and Flannery O'Connor of Georgia are two other -- along with the often mentioned Harper Lee of Alabama.

by Anonymousreply 137March 17, 2023 12:26 AM

The Old Man and the Twink

by Anonymousreply 138March 17, 2023 12:30 AM

Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

by Anonymousreply 139March 17, 2023 12:31 AM

Harper Lee helped Truman a LOT with "In Cold Blood" and he never gave her any credit for it. It ruined their friendship, which I think went back to their childhood.

He was good at alienating friends. Remember that high society tell-all he wrote in the magazine - and his former friends turned their backs on him? Ended up living with Johnny Carson's ex-wife I think, and his liver slowly failed him.


by Anonymousreply 140March 17, 2023 12:41 AM

Does anyone still read Walker Percy?

by Anonymousreply 141March 17, 2023 12:48 AM

R137 I recall reading The Optimists Daughter and absolutely hating it, such a chore to get through and felt nothing for the main character.

by Anonymousreply 142March 17, 2023 12:48 AM

Welty's strength was her short stories.

by Anonymousreply 143March 17, 2023 12:53 AM

Walker Percy's The Moviegoer is one of my favorite novels, that I've re-read.

Also A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. It breaks my heart that the publisher kept asking for rewrites and eventually rejected it and then he drove to Flannery O'Connor's grave or hometown or something to pay his respects, then drove back home to New Orleans, but never made it, having stopped to shoot his brains out in Biloxi, Mississippi. Fascinating guy but the closet and the overbearing mother really did him in. Oh and the goddamned publisher.

I think it was actually Walker Percy who was hounded by Toole's mother into reading the manuscript and he realized it was a masterpiece! (Percy was teaching at Loyola Univ in New Orleans at the time)

by Anonymousreply 144March 17, 2023 12:56 AM

Slave Under My Desk

by Anonymousreply 145March 17, 2023 1:04 AM

The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous [BOLD] Moll Flanders [/BOLD], &c. Who was Born in Newgate, and during a Life of continu'd Variety for threescore Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother) Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv'd Honest, and died a Penitent. [BOLD] By Daniel Defoe [/BOLD] (1660 – 24 April 1731)

The 120 Days of Sodom, Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, Juliette By The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814)

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 146March 17, 2023 1:08 AM

No one's mentioned THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE by Thomas Hardy, which is a true Victorian page-turner. Great surprising plotting, sexy characters. Lighter reading than his other more famous books.

And I'll second GREAT EXPECTATIONS, THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY, ARMADALE (by far Wilkie Collins best book!) and ALICE ADAMS (so much more enjoyable than the ponderous MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS).

And 2 personal faves are Trollope's THE WAY WE LIVE NOW and HE KNEW HE WAS RIGHT, though admittedly not for everyone.

Oh, and no DLer should die without reading a few Barbara Pym's novels.

by Anonymousreply 147March 17, 2023 1:10 AM

OMG I love Barbara Pym! EXCELLENT WOMEN is wonderful !!

by Anonymousreply 148March 17, 2023 1:13 AM

Two in the ass is worth more than one in the pussy

by Anonymousreply 149March 17, 2023 1:13 AM

If you've read a lot of Barbara Pym but haven't read THE SWEET DOVE DIED and QUARTET IN AUTUMN, please do. They're 2 of her last books and have a tart gravitas her other lovely novels somewhat lack.

by Anonymousreply 150March 17, 2023 1:26 AM

Pym was described by The Times of London as one of the ten most underrated writers of the 20th century.

Every New Yorker will read The House of Mirth and realize that nothing has changed in the city since the 1890s.

by Anonymousreply 151March 17, 2023 1:56 AM

SWEET DOVE is my favorite Pym.

by Anonymousreply 152March 17, 2023 2:26 AM

Edgar Allen Poe of course

Truman Capote, another one I forgot.

by Anonymousreply 153March 17, 2023 2:33 AM

Poe's stories are great

by Anonymousreply 154March 17, 2023 2:37 AM

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

by Anonymousreply 155March 17, 2023 2:42 AM

Persuasion (Jane Austen) is my favourite classic novel. It’s a bit darker than her other novels, which has a very unusual effect. The book has a kind of wistfulness to it, and a tenderness. It’s the book I turn to when I’m feeling down. Austen really understands people.

Washington Square is the best Henry James novel of those I have read. I love the heroine, and James is at his best here.

Classic detective fiction is what I always turn to when I have lost my eagerness to read. Raymond Chandler is a genius. His language sparkles with wit and metaphors and his stories are very well-plotted. All of his novels are classics.

by Anonymousreply 156March 17, 2023 2:45 AM

The Postman Always Rings Twice

by Anonymousreply 157March 17, 2023 2:46 AM

I like Poe.

by Anonymousreply 158March 17, 2023 2:47 AM

Some of Kingsley Amis' novels are very funny. I recommend Ending Up. I read it in a day.

by Anonymousreply 159March 17, 2023 2:55 AM

I really love Sinclair Lewis, too, R108. The last one I read was Arrowsmith many years ago, but I do remember being really moved by it. I tried It Can't Happen Here but couldn't get through it. As for Elmer Gantry, I was in junior high or high school and thought his vocabulary note "CHANSONG: A French kind of song" was hilarious.

by Anonymousreply 160March 17, 2023 3:06 AM

While we including more modern books I will suggest one that you ought never to read 'Of Mice and Men'.

It is so incredibly tedious you will be hoping a meteorite hits George & Lennie after page 10. I used to play truant from literature class to avoid it.

My report on it said:

“This is easily one of the worst books I’ve ever read. And bear in mind that I’ve read John Grisham.”

by Anonymousreply 161March 17, 2023 3:10 AM

Oh, I got that a little wrong @ R160. The note actually read,

"chanson (pro. Shan-song)--French kind of song"

by Anonymousreply 162March 17, 2023 3:12 AM

R4, I came here to say "Wuthering Heights," also. But surely you remember that it is a story of wild romance and revenge?

"Lord of the Flies."

"Madame Bovary."

"Cry, the Beloved Country."

by Anonymousreply 163March 17, 2023 3:55 AM

R161, You broke my heart, Fredo.

I should have mentioned "Of Mice and Men" in r163. Such a tragic yet beautifully-told story of poor ranch hands just trying to get by with a modicum of dignity (their sleeping quarters are kept meticulous) and "normality" (having a pet dog); of a trapped young married woman who dreamt of a life being in "pitchers"; of a man made cruel from his failure to become a successful boxer; and of a man of too large and powerful a body paired with too small and fragile a mind.

That the human drama escaped you is sadder than anything in the book.

by Anonymousreply 164March 17, 2023 4:04 AM

Speaking of classic Steinbeck, The Wayward Bus is almost topical if you lived in California this winter… The rains don’t cease and the rivers rise, but the beauty of this story is in its characters. Easy to read, like most of Steinbeck’s stuff. Good writing stands the test of time. Good writing is easy to read because the writer did a good job. If there’s one thing I loathe, is novels that go heavy on the details of the furniture, the costumes, and the five course meal eaten …Get me inside the main characters heads!

by Anonymousreply 165March 17, 2023 4:27 AM

Classics are all very readable, except I can't read Henry James, William Faulkner and have up on Don Quixote.

by Anonymousreply 166March 17, 2023 5:06 AM

R160 I agree, It Can’t Happen Here is more of a political warning screed than a crackling good read like Lewis' earlier novels.

by Anonymousreply 167March 17, 2023 5:34 AM

Anything by Gogol. Diary of a Madman, one of his short stories, is brilliant. I also loved The Overcoat. Russians find this story funny, but it’s quite tragic.

by Anonymousreply 168March 17, 2023 7:06 AM

My favourites..

Brideshead Revisited, and many of Waugh's other novels eg Vile Bodies

Vanity Fair

Myron, by Gore Vidal, also Myra Breckinridge

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

The House of Mirth


Seventeen, by Booth Tarkington

Pride and Prejudice

Great Expectations (all of Dickens, really)

Franny and Zooey

Little Women


Gone With the Wind

by Anonymousreply 169March 17, 2023 8:00 AM

The Count of Monte Cristo is an action movie in book form.

by Anonymousreply 170March 17, 2023 9:00 AM

[quote] Harper Lee helped Truman a LOT with "In Cold Blood" and he never gave her any credit for it. It ruined their friendship, which I think went back to their childhood.

Harper was good at taking notes. She published exactly one book, which many have said was mostly written by Truman.

by Anonymousreply 171March 17, 2023 12:49 PM

I think the old myth that Capote helped Lee with TKIM by writing much of it has long been disregarded. For one, he was not known for being generous to fellow artists. (And Lee did write another novel, just not one that should have been published.)

by Anonymousreply 172March 17, 2023 2:18 PM

[quote] My Pussy, My Friend by Margaret Snatcher

I find it fascinating that someone who is likely well over 50 finds these sort of 4th grade jokes funny.

Arrested development anyone?

by Anonymousreply 173March 17, 2023 4:11 PM

I prefer The Yelliw River by I.P. Freely

by Anonymousreply 174March 17, 2023 4:12 PM

Qym with a finger in

by Anonymousreply 175March 17, 2023 4:30 PM


I find it fascinating that someone who is likely well over 80 is alive to read my 4th grade joke.

Older than Methuselah anyone?

by Anonymousreply 176March 17, 2023 4:34 PM

[quote]I think the old myth that Capote helped Lee with TKIM by writing much of it has long been disregarded. For one, he was not known for being generous to fellow artists. (And Lee did write another novel, just not one that should have been published.)

She wasn't just a fellow artist, she was a childhood friend. And he probably realized that his childhood friend would have no source of steady income being from rural Alabama, so a successful book would provide a lifetime royalty stream.

by Anonymousreply 177March 17, 2023 4:35 PM

Wait- R176 -- are you also the one who posts as "Dr. Anne L. Lingus, MD" -- that just kills every time!!!

Do you have other funny jokes for us?

Have you watched "The Last Of Us" - did you crack up from all the puns in Ellie's book?

Tell us more about your life and your comedy.

by Anonymousreply 178March 17, 2023 5:06 PM

Here are other funny joked from R176.

The Old Man and the Twink

Slave Under My Desk

Two in the ass is worth more than one in the pussy

Qym with a finger in

How does he not have his own Netflix special?

We should start a thread just for him

by Anonymousreply 179March 17, 2023 5:08 PM

Please provide proof, r177.

by Anonymousreply 180March 17, 2023 6:02 PM

[quote]Please provide proof, [R177].

The proof is “Go Set A Watchman.” It has none of the beauty or craft of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” And she never produced another book. She may have written the outline but Truman wrote the substance.

by Anonymousreply 181March 17, 2023 6:13 PM

The Scarlet Letter is engrossing and heartbreaking if you can just make it through the preface, a long dreary essay entitled The Custom House. I would recommend skipping it altogether, as it really has nothing to do with the story.

by Anonymousreply 182March 17, 2023 6:29 PM

r181 You make a compelling point; the prose is very Truman-esque.

by Anonymousreply 183March 17, 2023 7:13 PM

"The Grass Harp" is also a beautiful novella by Truman Capote, made into a (flop) musical, but one with a great score, with a cast album headed by the wonderful Barbara Cook.

by Anonymousreply 184March 17, 2023 7:34 PM

But it's not, r183.

by Anonymousreply 185March 17, 2023 8:16 PM

Let's hear from an expert.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 186March 17, 2023 8:21 PM

IMO, many of the above mentioned classics may be tough sledding for OP. If so, I recommend something like H. Rider Haggard's "King Solomon's Mines."

by Anonymousreply 187March 17, 2023 8:44 PM

R70 Boris would not be Misha, he could be Borja. Misha would be the nickname of Mikhail.

by Anonymousreply 188March 17, 2023 9:34 PM

King Solomon’s Secret Vagine

by Anonymousreply 189March 17, 2023 9:50 PM

A lot of Hawthorne's short stories. I like Twice-Told Tales

by Anonymousreply 190March 17, 2023 11:05 PM

Cherry Ames...Dude Ranch Nurse

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 191March 18, 2023 2:16 AM

Twice-fucked Tails.

by Anonymousreply 192March 18, 2023 8:34 PM

R78, Saki’s last words were reportedly, “Put out that damned match!” and then he was shot in the head.

by Anonymousreply 193March 18, 2023 9:05 PM

Betty Crocker

by Anonymousreply 194March 18, 2023 9:08 PM

great question to ask! Not all "classics" are enjoyable unless you are studying English literature. Often classic books (and movies) are revered for breaking boundaries and introducing new skills, styles, concepts, and ideas as opposed to being enjoyable in present day.

Theres only so many hours in your life. stick to the ones that you can enjoy! There's enough movies and books out there of excellent, century enduring quality and mass market enjoyability that you dont need to give yourself homework.

Also consider cliffs notes or whatever is out there that does the same thing. May help you process what is going on and give you a deeper reading experience if you do it chapter by chapter. Only takes a few minutes. I recommend tv recaps on dramas for the same reason.

by Anonymousreply 195March 18, 2023 9:11 PM

I don’t mind reading a synopsis first, usually from Wikipedia, before I tackle a book that has difficult language or multiple characters. It helps going in knowing a bit of what to expect.

by Anonymousreply 196March 18, 2023 9:17 PM

Freisland Fucked Renfro

by Anonymousreply 197March 18, 2023 9:56 PM

"Scarlet Dawn Over Boca Raton," by Barbara Thorndyke

by Anonymousreply 198March 18, 2023 10:33 PM

[quote] but I enjoy The Beautiful and the Damned more.

You apparently didn't enjoy it enough to get its title right, however.

Oh, [italic[]dear.[/italic]

by Anonymousreply 199March 19, 2023 2:59 AM

Yes, r190! Hemingway's, also.

by Anonymousreply 200March 19, 2023 3:42 AM

I cannot agree with the suggestions for The Scarlet Letter - the dreariest, most boring piece of shit we were ever forced to read in school.

by Anonymousreply 201March 19, 2023 10:00 AM

There's a great online Cliffs Notes kind of website that has free chapter by chapter synopses of lots of classics called Schmoop.com

They're written in the style of a smart-aleck teenager telling you the story. Hey, it got me through MIDDLEMARCH.

by Anonymousreply 202March 19, 2023 2:28 PM


by Anonymousreply 203March 20, 2023 3:27 AM

I LOVED "The Sun also Rises" by Hemingway-I thought it was genius (still do think that). I wanted to name my 1st daughter Brett Ashley after the main female character. Alexandria(ex-wife) vetoed that idea. 2 years later, her cousin named her 1st daughter Brett Ashley.

by Anonymousreply 204March 20, 2023 3:15 PM

Thank you all. Perhaps we should take the contributions and do a poll.

by Anonymousreply 205March 21, 2023 1:16 AM

Pride & Prejudice is always a fun read.

by Anonymousreply 206March 21, 2023 1:31 AM

Austen's "Northanger Abbey" is really very funny, too -- it's a take-off on trashy romantic castle novels of the time. Also "Sense & Sensibility" is excellent -- Emma Thompson really followed it well when she adapted it for the screenplay of the film she starred in of it.

by Anonymousreply 207March 21, 2023 3:37 AM

Juice at Pride

by Anonymousreply 208March 21, 2023 4:36 PM

Dante's "Comedia." It does have some antiquated language, but if one is reasonably versed in modern Italian picking up some of the old Tuscan is relatively easy.

And extremely rewarding.

But DON'T give up on Paradiso!

by Anonymousreply 209March 21, 2023 4:46 PM

The original "Wizard of Oz" L. Frank Baum. Quite different from the film we all know.

by Anonymousreply 210March 22, 2023 11:06 PM

101 Ways to be a Bitch

by Anonymousreply 211March 28, 2023 12:13 AM

Moby Dick has it all - action, drama, sexuality, adventure, spirituality. It’s the Seven Samurai of classic fiction.

by Anonymousreply 212April 22, 2023 2:28 PM

My pussy is juicy as hell

by Anonymousreply 213April 22, 2023 2:32 PM

Two books where it might work better to see the video first, and then read the book later. Your call ...

THE WAY WE LIVE NOW by Anthony Trollope may seem like a tome, but it's really a soap opera. A collection of characters Dataloungers should love, especially Melmotte's daughter Marie, and the American lady Mrs. Hirtle. Video stars David Suchet (Poirot).

COUSIN BETTE seemed as though Balzac wrote the story for a gay audience with its cray-cray paranoia run amok. I'd recommend the video version featuring a young Helen Mirren as Bette's henchwoman in getting her "revenge" against the family. Amazing irony in the characters' fates!

by Anonymousreply 214April 22, 2023 2:58 PM

Crime and punishment

by Anonymousreply 215April 22, 2023 3:14 PM

Treasure Island.

David Copperfield.

Robinson Crusoe.

The Bounty Trilogy by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall is a modern classic (comprised of Mutiny On The Bounty, Men Against The Sea, and Pitcairn's Island). Most Nordhoff-Hall books are great reads. Botany Bay, No More Gas, and many others.

Northwest Passage, Arundel, Rabble In Arms, and other books by Kenneth Roberts

Also I don't know if these are "classics", but... Point Of No Return, by J. P. Marquamd, - The Mr. Moto books by Marquand - Island In The Sun, by Alec Waugh - some of Edna Ferber's books, like Show Boat, Giant, and Ice Palace - Marjory Morningstar by Herman Wouk. Jean Shepherd's books are hilarious.

Father Of The Bride by Edward Streeter is very funny (similar to the original film, yet not exactly the same). The Big Sleep. Farewell, My Lovely, and all the books by Raymond Chandler with main character Philip Marlowe. John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat, Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday, etc. A Night To Remember, and Day Of Infamy, both by Walter Lord.

by Anonymousreply 216April 22, 2023 3:59 PM

*Marjorie Morningstar.

And Gone With The Wind. One of the best "reads".

by Anonymousreply 217April 22, 2023 4:03 PM

Ford Maddox Ford’s “The Good Soldier” is a curiosity piece with a sinister, unreliable narrator and laugh out loud moments. It’s also very accessible.

by Anonymousreply 218April 22, 2023 4:16 PM

Too bad you can't search a thread to find out if something has already been posted. But I did really enjoy Winter of our Discontent. I remember I first started reading it just because I wanted to say I've read it. But it wasn't like anything I was expecting and I enjoyed it. It's one of the few books I have read more than once at different ages, and I am able to relate to different parts of the story.

by Anonymousreply 219April 22, 2023 4:25 PM

R219 You could hit Ctrll +F and type what you're searching in the box. If it's on the page it should come up.

by Anonymousreply 220April 22, 2023 4:54 PM

R219 I meant ctrl + F

by Anonymousreply 221April 22, 2023 4:55 PM

Wow, R216! The Mr. Moto books are kind of obscure, but I did read one recently; Moto himself was more a secondary character to the story. Have you read Marquand's epistolary novel "The Late George Apley"?

by Anonymousreply 222April 22, 2023 6:06 PM

Common Sense

by Anonymousreply 223April 22, 2023 6:07 PM

Started Another Country by James Baldwin. Pretty gritty for its time.

by Anonymousreply 224April 22, 2023 9:57 PM

You and me drinking his pee

by Anonymousreply 225April 22, 2023 10:15 PM

R222 No I never read it and I didn't know it was epistolary. Point Of No Return is one of my favorite books, though. Incidentally sometimes I go hiking near the cemetery where Marquand is buried. The Mr. Moto books are all a little different, not following any formula - but I think he's usually not the main character.

by Anonymousreply 226April 23, 2023 4:00 AM

Has Mr. Moto—a Japanese detective created by a white man—survived the scrutiny of the politically correct ?

by Anonymousreply 227April 23, 2023 1:03 PM

R227 In the novels, he wasn't a detective, he was secret agent.

by Anonymousreply 228April 23, 2023 1:09 PM

*a secret agent.

by Anonymousreply 229April 23, 2023 1:11 PM

Britannica calls him a detective and secret agent. But the question still stands.

by Anonymousreply 230April 23, 2023 1:14 PM

R230 In the books I've read he's a secret agent of the Japanese government. An international spy. In films he was more of a detective. As to the rest, I don't know.

by Anonymousreply 231April 23, 2023 1:24 PM

Well, there's no question that Peter Lorre as a Japanese man wouldn't fly today.

by Anonymousreply 232April 23, 2023 2:07 PM

I'm going to look at this someday and make a list.

by Anonymousreply 233April 23, 2023 3:12 PM

[quote]Well, there's no question that Peter Lorre as a Japanese man wouldn't fly today.

I don't understand the problem with it.

by Anonymousreply 234April 23, 2023 5:08 PM

The Mr. Moto series of B movies didn't have a lot to do with the books. Moto was a complex character in the books, sometimes seeming humble and friendly, sometimes seeming cold or ruthless. Americans usually ran across him in exotic locales like the Caribbean or the Far East. At the time (the 30s) people mostly questioned that this character who people enjoyed should be working for the expansionist Japanese Empire that invaded China, etc. I think one book takes place after Pearl Harbor (? I forget) and Moto is still on the side of his country, and that was the last one until the 1950s, when there was one more. Stopover Tokyo.

by Anonymousreply 235April 23, 2023 5:36 PM

[quote]r29 The Bell Jar

I think that’s a great novel, even though I don’t particularly respond to Plath’s poetry.

As she did with everything she undertook, Plath approached the novel meticulously. This is one of the outlines she did before writing it.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 236April 23, 2023 6:22 PM

R31, did you understand what you read?

by Anonymousreply 237April 23, 2023 6:24 PM

R236 it's the only thing I remember about that book was it was sad.

Maybe I was too young to relate when I read it.

by Anonymousreply 238April 23, 2023 9:23 PM

Harper Lee published one novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Go Set a Watchman is an earlier draft of TKAM.

by Anonymousreply 239April 23, 2023 9:49 PM

[quote]r238 The the only thing I remember about that book was it was sad. Maybe I was too young to relate when I read it.

THE BELL JAR is a great novel because it’s a thorough character study (with Plath using herself as the model/subject.) And because she was a complex, interesting person, the character is complex and interesting.

It’s a “feminist” novel in that it looks at a woman’s conflicting roles and desires in 1950s America - though it’s kind of sad to think that stories that focus on a woman’s issues are by default “feminist.”

But in addition to the subject matter, Plath is really good at being crisply straightforward and poetic at the same time.

[quote][italic] I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

by Anonymousreply 240April 23, 2023 9:58 PM

But is The Bell Jar a "good, enjoyable" read?

by Anonymousreply 241April 24, 2023 5:26 AM

For many, yes. How you respond to the subject matter might depend on what you’ve been through, yourself.

On a reading level, it’s more accessible than the Brontes, et al. I personally detest WUTHERING HEIGHTS and can never finish it. I do enjoy JANE EYRE (until she gets to Moor House.)

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 242April 24, 2023 6:17 AM

[quote]R82 Barbie's New York Summer

OMG, I can actually recite the plot of that novel. Do NOT try me!

by Anonymousreply 243April 24, 2023 6:25 AM

[quote]Also A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I've probably read that five times or more, and every time it's a revelation.

It would be easier for me to list all of the classics that I absolutely despised.

As far as classics that I loved, they were mainly sci-fi (and arguably classics because science fiction never gets the credit it deserves.)

I, Robot, Fahrenheit 451, the Martian Chronicles, Brave New World.

And then some things that I would consider modern classics (more recent books, that I'm sure will eventually be considered classics.)

Toni Morrison's Beloved, Katherine Dunne's Geek Love (although I doubt that last one will ever achieve classic status even though it should).

by Anonymousreply 244April 24, 2023 8:00 AM

I didn't realize any men these days read Jane Eyre. Not being snarky I just never met a guy who had read it.

by Anonymousreply 245April 24, 2023 1:48 PM

(I haven't, either - though I saw the Joan Fontaine-Orson Welles movie.)

by Anonymousreply 246April 24, 2023 1:49 PM

I read Jane Eyre a long time ago to see what the fuss was about.

by Anonymousreply 247April 24, 2023 3:52 PM

[quote]R244 And then some things that I would consider modern classics (more recent books, that I'm sure will eventually be considered classics.)

A really wonderfully crafted novel is “I Am Mary Dunne” by Brian Moore. It just covers a (bad) day in a woman’s life in the 1960s, but the language is beautiful.

by Anonymousreply 248April 24, 2023 5:10 PM

The Lonely Passion Of Judith Hearne

by Anonymousreply 249April 24, 2023 5:12 PM

god, that novel of his is depressing, though.

by Anonymousreply 250April 24, 2023 5:25 PM

Books that give you life, not mild depression.

by Anonymousreply 251April 25, 2023 12:56 PM

[quote] Jane Eyre - Emily Bronte


Typical Victorian sadism porn like much of Dickens. “And then they chopped off my hand, and then they urinated on me, and then they dropped me into the ocean…”.

by Anonymousreply 252April 25, 2023 1:06 PM

This thread touches on a relevant discussion; is it a beneficial thing to be required to read classics in your formative years/secondary school when the prose, themes, and emotions they touch on are out of reach of the reader? Sometimes this leads to a rejection of classic literature later in life or a disinclination to read at all, as one ages.

I read Moby Dick (as well as many others) in HS and was exhausted and mystified about its place in ‘great literature’. I read it again in my early 20s and it was a revelation. I read it again a few years ago in my early 30s and it was changed again. Same for Gulag Archipelago, If This Is a Man, Night, Paradise Lost…the list goes on. I instinctively disliked books considered classics. With age and insight, love and loss and hardship, I have been reborn discovering classics anew.

by Anonymousreply 253April 25, 2023 5:03 PM

[quote]R252 [Jane Eyre is] Typical Victorian sadism porn like much of Dickens. “And then they chopped off my hand, and then they urinated on me, and then they dropped me into the ocean…”.

Jane has a harsh childhood and education, but after that she “forges her own destiny” like traditional male subjects do. She’s professional, capable, hardworking… she does not have good looks to rely on to assure security.

The majority of the story’s not depressing, it’s affirming.

by Anonymousreply 254April 25, 2023 7:28 PM

[quote]is it a beneficial thing to be required to read classics in your formative years/secondary school when the prose, themes, and emotions they touch on are out of reach of the reader?

You raise a good point. I've always considered myself fortunate that my first real exposure to The Classics was in 8th grade, where my English teacher assigned us "Great Expectations". Pip's emotions and experiences were not completely out of reach of my teenage brain and that book is not a particularly difficult read. (In fact, while the rest of the class read an abridged version, I checked the full text out of the local library. Guess I was an over-achiever, even then.)

by Anonymousreply 255April 25, 2023 7:44 PM

Cucks Who Suck Cock And Eat Cum

by Anonymousreply 256April 25, 2023 8:29 PM

I only read the graphic novel version of that one.

by Anonymousreply 257April 25, 2023 9:04 PM

[quote]I read Moby Dick (as well as many others) in HS and was exhausted and mystified about its place in ‘great literature.

Assigning Moby Dick as a required read in high school is cruel and unusual punishment. It's long and boring. I don't know how teachers expect high school kids to carve out the time to read a 400+ page book only to spend two days talking about it.

by Anonymousreply 258April 25, 2023 9:24 PM

[quote]I read Moby Dick (as well as many others) in HS and was exhausted and mystified about its place in ‘great literature’. I read it again in my early 20s and it was a revelation. I read it again a few years ago in my early 30s and it was changed again. Same for Gulag Archipelago, If This Is a Man, Night, Paradise Lost…

You must have gone to an unusual high school.

by Anonymousreply 259April 26, 2023 8:40 AM

I love these threads; they turned me on to reading Trollope, which I loved. I'd also add to this list the short stories by MR James. Not exactly literature on par with Austen or Dickens, but entertaining ghost stories to read on a fall afternoon.

by Anonymousreply 260April 26, 2023 11:39 AM

Besides "The Great Gatsby," I'd recommend Fitzgerald's "Tender is the Night" and his collection of short stories...loved "Bernice Bobs Her Hair." PBS had a great dramatization of it c. late 1970s/1980.

by Anonymousreply 261April 26, 2023 11:59 AM

I love Hemingway.

by Anonymousreply 262April 26, 2023 2:58 PM

[quote]PBS had a great dramatization of it c. late 1970s/1980.

With Shelley Duvall? I loved that!

by Anonymousreply 263April 26, 2023 6:11 PM

The Odyssey

Willa Cather's "One of Ours"

D.H. Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers"

Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel"

Thomas Hardy's "Jude the Obscure" and "Far From the Madding Crowd"

I just picked up Marguerite Yourcenar's "Memoirs of Hadrian". I'm looking forward to it.

by Anonymousreply 264April 26, 2023 8:47 PM

I wish I could say I enjoyed some of these classics like GREAT EXPECTATIONS, which were assigned reading in high school, but I never had the patience for them and settled for the CliffNotes versions. It wasn't until I was well into my 50s and had a little more time on my hands that I decided I wanted to try and read all those supposed classics to see just what was there.

I began with Trollope's THE WAY WE LIVE NOW, simply because I loved the title. I went into it imagining a Masterpiece Theatre version with beloved actors playing all the roles, and I absolutely loved it. I went on to read lots more Trollope, but also Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Wilkie Collins, Jane Austen, Edith Wharton and, of course, Dickens, especially GREAT EXPECTATIONS, which remains a particular favorite.

Should I blame my high school teachers for not being more inspiring? Maybe. But I think I just wasn't ready back then to appreciate what those books had to offer.

by Anonymousreply 265April 26, 2023 9:52 PM

I still can't get into Henry James though I've tried reading The Bostonians, Portrait of a Lady and Washington Square (the play The Heiress is far better!).

by Anonymousreply 266April 26, 2023 9:55 PM

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is a great book. It was a bestseller in the 30s and really isn't a children's or YA book at all. It has great regional atmoshere (Central Florida, post-Civil War).

True Grit by Charles Portis is great. Very enjoyable. Not unlike the movie versions but the author has a writing style that's part of the enjoyment.

by Anonymousreply 267April 26, 2023 10:12 PM

[Quote] I just picked up Marguerite Yourcenar's "Memoirs of Hadrian". I'm looking forward to it.

Memoirs of Twat. I’m looking 👀 forward to it.

by Anonymousreply 268April 26, 2023 10:21 PM

Maybe it's obscure but The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller is a good nonfcition - travel - book. But more than just a travel book.

by Anonymousreply 269April 26, 2023 10:23 PM

I'm about to finally read Sinclair Lewis' BABBITT, of which I've long been curious, based on a friend's recommendation. He says there's a thinly veiled gay relationship there!

by Anonymousreply 270April 26, 2023 11:32 PM

Sinclair Lewis's books haven't aged too well.

by Anonymousreply 271April 27, 2023 12:52 AM

[quote]Sinclair Lewis's books haven't aged too well.

I don't know. "It Can't Happen Here" was mentioned frequently in the lead up to the 2016 election and then when Trump actually won(-ish) it skyrocketed on Amazon to the bestsellers list.

by Anonymousreply 272April 27, 2023 6:40 AM

r253, r255 and r265: your posts resonate with me as well. I had the same experience with GREAT EXPECTATIONS in high school. It was a chore.

I've since read it at least three times and have gone on to read most of Dickens' work, as well as many others mentioned in this thread.

by Anonymousreply 273April 27, 2023 7:17 PM

I’ve read several of Sinclair Lewis’s books recently, and they are fresh and surprisingly contemporary.

Oddly, It Can’t Happen Here was his least enjoyable although the most prescient.

Babbitt, Elmer Gantry, Dodsworth, Main Street and Arrowsmith all have something relevant and interesting to say to modern readers.

by Anonymousreply 274April 28, 2023 3:07 AM

I liked the Screwtape Letters concept but yeah not practical in this century.

by Anonymousreply 275April 28, 2023 11:33 PM
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