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Classics - The 'you should have read' thread


Spoonie
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Over the past few year and a bit I've been trying to fill in a lot of the gaps in my reading around the books that are considered classics. Not the classics in terms of the great books the great philosophers from hundreds of years gone by (althought some of these will come into it) but the classics across all genres that are considered must reads. Keen for people to throw in their ideas here as to what books might come into that category. A few example I've read include:

 

Thomas Hardy - Tess of the d'urbervilles

John Steinbeck - The grapes of wrath

Herman Melville - Moby Dick

Harper Lee - To kill a Mockingbird

JD Salinger - Catcher in the rye

 

That's just a few for starters. What else?

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Man, Moby Dick is a slog.

 

Some that are on my kindle just now:

 

Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Peter Pan - JM Barrie

Dune - Frank Herbert

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Michael Lewis - Liars Poker

Hunter S Thomson - Fear and Loathing, Las Vegas and Campaign Trail

PJ O'Rourke - Parliament of Whores

Anonymous - Primary Colors

Frank Kafka - The Trial

David Simon - Homicide

Tom Wolfe - The Right Stuff

Douglas Coupland - Microserfs

Henry Miller - Tropic of Capricorn

Steven Blush - American Hardcore

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Keep them coming - just remember it's the bonafide, nailed-on classics we're looking for here, rather than more obscure books that you love. I've read a tonne of these, with plenty more to get into. Shakespeare is someone I've never dabbled in, so I need to start thinking how I can approach that

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Keep them coming - just remember it's the bonafide, nailed-on classics we're looking for here, rather than more obscure books that you love. I've read a tonne of these, with plenty more to get into. Shakespeare is someone I've never dabbled in, so I need to start thinking how I can approach that

Shakespeare is brutal.. Remember it well , Macbeth for my Higher english exam in 1989 lol Some hideous but beautiful quotes. I should read some more of that stuff!! I also second 1984 by george orwell as a fantastic read.

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It's a good list, but it's not a british list.

Jack London, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper and Susan Coolidge are all American for starters.

Few French authors in there as well....

Edited by colb
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I read Madame Bovary this year. I wouldn't recommend it.

 

If we're talking Classics-with-a-capital-C I'd have thought they should be pre-20th century. Of the few I've read, I'd go with Crime and Punishment, mentioned by 'droid above. I also read Anna Karenina for my Higher personal essay thing and it wasn't bad; probably better if you have an interest in the 19th century Russian aristocracy though... Les Miserables was another doable doorstop, but I got about 900 pages and halfway through, thought I might take a break and just never went back to it. I saw Treasure Island listed above - I've read it a few times and think it might be my favourite 19th century novel, fuck y'all.

 

Shakespeare is probably the only pre-20th century writer I really dig, but I'm kind of against the notion of "reading" him, and I think this is why people just don't get him at first (in school, damn near invariably). People rave about the writing on The Wire, Sopranos etc., and a hardcore fan might sit down with just the scripts; but who would do so without first actually watching it, probably several times? I've never met a Shakespeare film (heresy?), history or tragedy at least, that I didn't really like.

 

20th century modern classics, though, and the list could be a fair bit bigger: any of Hemmingway's best (Old Man..., For Whom the Bell Tolls; A Farewell to Arms); The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden; All Quiet on the Western Front; 100 Years of Solitude; Brave New World and A Clockwork Orange (both good shouts above) are some I've loved most, off the top of my head.

 

I saw Tom Wolfe mentioned above, so if he's allowed: Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full. Both incredible and really sort of 19th century, massive-scope, classic style.

Edited by scottyboy
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Possibly, possibly. I'm basically going with what gets published by Penguin Classics vs Penguin Modern Classics (vs. not published by either of those). If that's not the ultimate arbiter of what are "bonafide, nailed-on classics" then I dunno what is... (er, Morrissey's autobiography excepting). Though a book has to be out of copyright - and thus a certain age - before it will get published by any "classics" publisher, I guess.

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