Feeling a bit illiterate


Since my upcoming book is covering characters from classic literature, I’ve had to go back and remember what I read in high school and what I actually remember from all those books. I feel like my English teachers did pretty well in giving me a good range of reading assignments (except for a few duds here and there), but there’s still SO MUCH that I haven’t read. Among a few surprise “never-read” books on my list:

  • Pride & Prejudice: On top of that, I’ve never read ANY Jane Austen. AT ALL. And Jane Austen was one of the few authors that I remember my peers actually liking at that time. That’s a huge deal when it comes to moody teenagers being TOLD to read a book. How??
  • 1984: I could have sworn that I’d read this one, but apparently not.
  • The Catcher in the Rye: Another one that I remember my peers actually liking, although I’m not sure if I’d find the same appeal if I were to read it now.
  • Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath: Steinbeck in general sounds likes a writer I would like.

As for the ones that I HAVE read, putting together this book has also let me remember all of the books I enjoyed reading for school:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird: My favorite. Easy to read, easy to understand, lots of southern charm packed in, and it teaches so much about life and being a good person. It’s the only book I read in school that I voluntarily re-read as an adult.
  • Bless Me, Ultima: I’m not sure how widespread this one is as school reading? It’s similar to To Kill a Mockingbird in that it’s also a coming-of-age story told from the child’s point of view with lots of lessons about life and humans in general, but with much darker themes and lots of rich cultural imagery.
  • Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451: I’ve listed these two together because they made me feel the same way while I was reading them. When I read them in high school they already seemed a little too close for comfort. I’d imagine if I were to re-read them now they’d be even more uncomfortably close to our current society.
  • Picture of Dorian Gray: A guy is so vain that he sells his soul to have a painting do all of his aging for him, while he goes on a hedonistic rampage. What could go wrong?
  • The Awakening: Okay, so I actually didn’t like this book at the time that I read it. I plodded through it only because it was assigned reading, but I grew to appreciate this one so much later on in life. This is definitely one where if you don’t read it as a teenager, you should DEFINITELY read it as an adult to pick up on all of its social commentary.

And then I’ve got the KILL IT category:

  • Anything by Charles Dickens. I DON’T NEED SIX PAGES TO TELL ME THE SUN IS SHINING JUST STOP. Sorry to all the Dickens fans out there, the man’s got great stories, but DAMMIT GET TO THE POINT, CHARLIE.

Maybe I’ll have to try to make up for some lost time when I’m done with this book of my own! So to all of you awesome people out there: what are your favorite books, what are books you haven’t read but feel like you would enjoy, and what books are in your DIE DIE DIE category?

14 comments on “Feeling a bit illiterate”

    1. I’m not sure why I thought I’d read 1984 when I hadn’t?? Maybe it’s because I see “big brother is watching” and “2+2=5” so often in general culture that I thought I’d read it.

      1. “Brave New World” and especially “1984” are two books that I’d consider “eye-opening.” After reading them, I cannot forget about them and a lot of their ideas and themes color how I view things. It’s a blessing and a curse. Hahaha…

        1. I’d need a refresher on Brave New World (and all of these books, for that matter!), but one part that really struck me was the part where the kid could recite an entire lecture about the Nile, but couldn’t answer a single question about it.

  1. Never Read: War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Anything by Lovecraft,

    Read and will read again and again: A Tale of Two Cities (It’s the only Dickens I really enjoy), The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Les Miserables, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Pride and Prejudice

    Kill it: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I’ve tried. It just doesn’t capture me. Anything by Steinbeck, he makes me so sad.

    Haha! Can you tell I had an English Major. I love books and never get to chat with people about them, so I get overly excited.

    1. Oh man…I felt the same way about Tolkien as I did about Dickens (sorry sorry sorry!) – I tried reading Fellowship of the Ring and stopped when I realized I was about 90 pages in and they STILL HADN’T LEFT THE FREAKING SHIRE YET. ARGH.

      Is Bless Me, Ultima commonly taught? I’m starting to wonder if I lucked out on that one.

      1. I seem to really love long wordy books. (I flew through A Song of Ice and Fire.)

        I had never heard of Bless Me, Ultima until today. But I look forward to reading it.

  2. Haha I had a hard time differentiating classical literature from everything else, so I used this list as a reference: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/4311.Best_Classic_Literature_Ever

    Some of my favorites:
    * “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: I read this short story/novel a few months ago. At first I wasn’t used to the pacing or the translated language, but I’m glad that I finished it. There are some beautiful moments in the story that translate well through language and age.
    * Shakespeare’s works: “Hamlet” and “King Lear” are my favorites.
    * “A Tale of Two Cities” – C. Dick(ens): Takes place during the French Revolution (one of my favorite historical periods) and there are enough characters and drama to keep me intrigued. Also, the book had one of the best openings that I’ve ever read as well as one of the best last lines. Even though I haven’t been able to finish any other Dickens books (yet), I’d recommend this one.

    Only book that I’ve played “Chicken” with and lost:
    * “Crime and Punishment” – So. damn. long. I had to lie through class and write a couple of essays on it, drawing only on a few excerpts. NEVER AGAIN!

    Books that I’d like to read:
    * “Macbeth” – It’s time. I need to read this.

    1. Ah, Little Prince is another common favorite! I actually looked up the synopsis for Crime and Punishment when I was writing this post (haven’t read any Russian lit either!), and dude, maybe I’m misinterpreting it, but does the guy commit murder just to prove a point??? WTF???

  3. Lori Savichunas

    Canadians read Anne of Green Gables. The Eighties had a super made-for-tv series that inspired me to get the books read.

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