5 Classics I’ve Never Read

1984 called… and reminded me that I still haven’t read it!

What can I say? Once I graduated from school, I unleashed the chains of reading classics and never looked back. Books like David Sedaris’ and Tina Fey’s have just been more appetizing for subway rides and leisure reading. However, there are a chunk of classics I really need to attend to before it’s too late. Here are five of them.

1. King Lear
Let me set the scene. It was the summer before my senior year. We had two books to read for Honors English. Passage to India was one. Okay, sure. A nice getaway book that takes the reader to another country. The other? Madame Bovary. Bleck. I couldn’t think of a more depressing way to end the oppressively heated summer. First day of class rolls around and our teacher tells us there was a mix-up and we were supposed to read “King Lear,” but the guidance counselor got it wrong when she sent out the reading list. “Oh well, get your pencils out for the Madame Bovary quiz.”

The following year in college I was in a one-act called Competition Piece. In it, we did a play within a play. The play was Kabuki Lear, a spoofy Japanese-styled fast-paced reenactment of King Lear in less than a minute. I had no idea what was going on then and I still don’t. I really should take care of that sometime.

2. 1984
What’s this book about? Robots? The end of the world? The future? Politics? I’m eerily okay with not knowing. I see this book on tons of “Books You Must Read Before You Die” lists. What is that saying? “You read one dystopian novel, you’ve read them all”? Yeah, no one ever said that, and don’t worry, this is on my personal book bucket list. My booket list, if you will.

3. The Chronicles of Narnia Series
I had this sitting on the bookshelf of my childhood bedroom for years. It’s probably still there. Growing up in the Bible Belt, my friends and I were all very interested in C.S. Lewis. I think the fact that I never got around to the books had something to do with the fact that I’D seen so many movie versions of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I knew that if I’d have to plow through the series already knowing how it ended.

4. Moby-Dick
I will never get around to this one. I know I won’t. When people describe it to me, they always say, “Oh, Melville goes into such great detail about everything. He spends entire chapters just describing things.” This sounds terrible. If Herman Melville is more into details than a modern-day bridezilla, then please, please, please count me out. Part of me wants to get through it. This is the same part of me that would like to run a marathon someday. Nevah gonna happen.

5. Emma
No idea why I never read this one. It seems like something that’d be right up my alley; the drama in Pride and Prejudice that probably tortured the boys in my high school was absolutely thrilling to me. I couldn’t believe I got to read soapy love stuff for a grade! Okay, this one I see myself picking up soonish. Plus, isn’t Clueless based on Emma? Winning.

What are your thoughts? Are these classics worth the hype?

  • mim

    I join the chorus of those who say you’ve gotta read 1984, even if it scares you.

    I loooove King Lear and Moby-Dick. Lear is my favorite Shakespeare play. Moby-Dick is my desert-island novel; I just finished reading it through for the third time. I’d like to thank the profs who introduced me to them in college, but they’re probably both dead.

    I read Madame Bovary in college and didn’t like it.

    Emma I pretty much liked tho I’m not a Jane Austen fan. I’d like to see Clueless.

    I never read The Chronicles of Narnia; I read the “space trilogy.” Sort of liked the first two books, but That Hideous Strength was, well, hideous. I prefer Lewis’s “apologetic” works to his fantasy novels.

  • mim

    Lest I seem self-righteous about reading, there are other classics I’ve never read, that I’m either procrastinating about big-time or have quietly bumped from my TBR list if they were there in the first place. They include anything by Tolstoy, Proust, Thackeray, Trollope, Galsworthy or Pynchon; Homer’s Odyssey (tho if I slogged through the Iliad I should find the Odyssey more interesting, right?); Great Expectations and anything else by Dickens that I haven’t already read; anything by John Barth other than The End of the Road (which I’ve read); and anything by Jane Austen other than Emma.