November Classic Club Question

Saturday, November 10, 2012


This month's the Classics Club asks the following question: 

What classic piece of literature most intimidates you, and why? And has your view changed at all since you joined our club? 

There are a couple classics that absolutely intimidate me. The main two are Ulysses by James Joyce and Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust. I have a feeling I'll read both at some point, I'm just not there yet.

I will say that over the past couple years I've tackled a lot of the books that used to terrify me. I found out that Moby Dick, Les Miserables and War and Peace are all wonderful in their own way. Each one has so much to offer, but you can't read them for the sake of "getting through them." You have to read them you would any other book, to enjoy them and to learn something!

I've also found that read-alongs really help me with these big ones. I did one for both Moby Dick and War & Peace. They offer accountability and motivation if you get discouraged. And more importantly other readers can offer great observations about the books that you may have missed. You're able to discuss the books as you go and that always deepens my reading experience.

So go tackle that giant classic you've been avoiding! It's probably not as bad as you think it is.

More about the Classics Club here.

9 comments:

Dale said...

I'm still working my way through War and Peace, but am really enjoying it! Just taking my time. I have The Sound and the Fury as my most intimidating, but I've received some great suggestions for reading it. I might give it another try.

Ellen said...

I'm with you on the Joyce and Proust. I've owned the first three books of Remembrance of Things Past, and Ulysses, for years now, and haven't touched any of them. I'm really hoping to get up the nerve to read at least Swann's Way this winter - like you wrote, often when I finally gather the strength to read a classic I turn out to love it, like when I read Anna Karenina. I might put Gravity's Rainbow on my list, too...that seems like enough for now, though if I'm being honest there are a LOT of books that intimidate me.

Cat said...

I have no desire to read Ulysses although I may do one day, and I haven't read Moby Dick but I don't think it's because I'm scared of them but more that I think I won't like them.
I agree readalongs are wonderful especially for the long books. I would never have survived Clarissa on my own.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Dale - Faulkner scares me. I've read 3 of his books now and each time I feel like I "get" him a bit more. But I've never felt like I loved him. Well done on W&P!

Ellen - Gravity's Rainbow is so intimidating! I'm with you on Anna Karenina, I loved that one too!

Cat - I thought I would hate Moby Dick, but I received some great tips about how to look at it and ended up really liking it. Read-alongs are the best!

Reading Pleasure said...

I may love reading Anna Karenina after all

Fanda said...

It's not just the length that intimidate people, I think, but also the subject. Dante's Divine Comedy is one of my intimidating classics, it's quite short but I'm not familiar with poems, so I'm not sure I can digest it, or even like it.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Fanda - I think you're right, the subject matter plays a big part in it. That's why I was intimidated by Moby Dick. The thought of reading a giant book about a whale did not sound fun.

Rachel Bradford said...

I thought about saying Ulysses intimidated me, but I didn't really have a very good reason why...I just know that it's a difficult book to read and so it intimidates me. :) I think my dad might have influenced that. haha

My November Meme is here

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Rachel Bradford - I don't often have a good reason for why the book is intimidating, I just feel that way. Then I read it and can't figure out why I was so worried.