Should I Read These Books?

book scene


I have a list of books (of course, I always have a list of books.) It is a list of books I should read. Books that well-educated, well-read people read.  You know the books, the ones that frequently end up on lists of Very Important Books.  But they are the books that somehow never get read.  I mean to read them, I should read them, but I don't read them.  I am listing a few here in the hopes that someone will give me a vital reason to read them and become the well-read person I dream of being. Hey, we all have our dreams.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  I have a friend who loves this book.  She raved about it to me and couldn't believe I had never read it.  So I started it, and after valiant effort I got to something like 47% on my Kindle.  And there I have been for the last year.  Or maybe more.  Some of it I enjoyed.  I would be reading merrily along wondering why I hadn't read this years ago and then all of a sudden I would be bogged down in some long involved explanation of something that, at that moment, seemed to have little to do with the story.  After the tenth or hundredth or millionth time getting bogged down, I put it down and never picked it up again.  Though every time I turn on my Kindle I feel guilty when I see the unfinished line under the book.  Should I give it another try?

War and Peace by Victor Hugo.  I know it is a new BBC miniseries right now so I see a lot of pictures of it and discussions on various book blogs.  I should probably read it some day.  It is another one with rave reviews from people.  But I keep putting it off.  I need someone to convince me of how awesome it is.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.  This is another one I have just never finished.  I don't know why.  In theory, I should like it.  But somehow I always quit part way through. And yes, I have quit more than once.

Anything by Virginia Woolf.  I read Mrs Dalloway a year or so ago.  I am still not sure what I thought of it.  Some of the language was beautiful.  While I was reading it I didn't really think I liked it, but then it stuck in my head for the longest time afterwards.  I should probably give her another try.  Can you really call yourself well-read if you haven't read Woolf?

Shakespeare.  Well-educated people read Shakespeare, right?  I have read Shakespeare, I just haven't read as much as I feel I should have.  I enjoy watching his plays be performed but I struggle with reading his works.  I think Shakespeare is one of the few things I would rather sit and read with someone else.  After all, his works are designed to be spoken.  But since my friends would all look at me like I was insane if I suggested sitting around and reading Shakespeare together....yeah, that isn't going to happen.

I know there are a lot more, these are just the ones I could think of right off the top of my head.  I did not include books that are viewed as important but that I have zero interest in (Moby Dick, Heart of Darkness, The Catcher in the Rye.)

Do you have any books you really feel you should read but somehow never get around to? Or maybe never manage to finish? I would love to know what you feel you really should be reading.  I can add them to my list and have more to feel guilty about!

9 comments

  1. I gave up on Les Miserables - I didn't even get as far as you and I gave the book away - I knew I wouldn't pick it up again. I love Dumas, but I don't love Hugo. And I can't get through Tolstoy either - or most of the Russians I've tried, for that matter. (I blame the translators ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad I am not the only one who was beaten by Les Miserables. My friend loved it so much that I kept feeling like I must be really missing something. I think we should absolutely blame the translators.

      Delete
  2. I'm forever feeling like I should be reading certain books to be considered well-read, but recently I've decided I don't actually care. I'd rather read books I love than read books I feel I should. Life's too short and all that! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right, life is too short. I just don't want to miss out on a wonderful book because I don't have enough perseverance. I think I need to be willing to just let them go if they are not working for me. So Les Miserables is gone but maybe I will still give War and Peace a try since I have never picked it up.

      Delete
  3. I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. It has the exact same flaws as Les Miserables, too many asides to unimportant things. I finished it because I felt an almost pathological need to endure.

    In hindsight though, it was a waste of time. On the list of all the books I've read ever, Hunchback probably rated on the lowest quarter.

    If you're obsessed with finishing books like I am, I'd say don't continue. But it's completely up to you :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I meant...

      If you're NOT obsessed with finishing books like I am, I'd say don't continue. But it's completely up to you :)

      Delete
    2. "An almost pathological need to endure." Yes, that would be me. Probably that is why it bothers me to abandon Les Miserables and Brideshead Revisited. I rarely abandon books, and even more rarely abandon ones that are viewed as classics. But really, it is a waste of my time if I am not enjoying it.

      Delete
  4. I really liked Les Miserables when I read it back during a college break, but I freely admit that I skimmed the digressions about Parisian sewer systems and why Napoleon lost at Waterloo.

    I have three "big classics" that I am daunted to attempt, but feel like I should: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. I'm actually looking forward to Moby Dick a bit now, though, thanks to the movie In the Heart of the Sea.

    I'm not obsessed with finishing books, though. At the same time, I want to be really be able to know for myself whether I think these books are amazing or meh, and in order to do that, I have to read them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it might have been the Napoleon and Waterloo section that did me in. I probably will give War and Peace a try at some point.

      Delete