Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Literary Classics I Hated, But We Are Expected To Love  

This is the first Wednesday of the month of November so it is that time again. For those of you not familiar with Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group, please visit his blog and check it out.

I almost forgot that today was the day because I have been frantically busy with NaNo as I decided to participate at the very last minute. So my IWSG post will be short, but nonetheless it is something I am afraid to share with all of you. I am even worried that I will catch a lot of backlash after this post.

My Insecurity today is more about my insecurity as a reader than a writer, but it all ties together.  Okay, here goes.

It seems to me that all good writers are also lovers of the literature classics. I am not and I fear that this will make me look like a less talented writer in your eyes. I do not dislike all of the classics , in fact I have enjoyed reading a great many of them. However, there are a great number of titles that I have read (mostly because they were assigned reading material at some point in my life.

Here is a list of some of the classics of literature that I  struggled to finish, that failed to capture my attention or dazzle me. I have never shared this with anyone. Having been an honor student in college and law school it would have been a disgrace for me to tell anyone that these books not only did not due it for me, but actually finishing each of them was worse than a triple root canal- without the gas.

They are in no particular order of bad to worse.

  •      Great Expectations (without a doubt the most miserable reading experience I've have).
  •      War and Peace
  •      Moby Dick
  •      Foucauit's Pendulum
  •      The Waste Land (and other T.S. Elliot poems.
  •      Naked Lunch
  •      The Illad and Odyssey of Homer
  •      Walden
  •      The Old Man and the Sea
  •      Wuthering Heights
  •      The Sound and the Fury (and I graduated from Ole Miss-How can I not like this book)
I am not completely void of a love for the classics. There are quite a few that I actually loved.

  1. The Great Gatsby
  2. Slaughterhouse-five
  3. Catcher in the Rye
  4. Lord of the Flies
  5. Deliverance
  6. Gone With the Wind
  7. Uncle Tom's Cabin
  8. To Kill a Mockingbird
I am sure there are more that I love and more that I did not love, but the ones listed are those that came to my mind rather easily.

Perhaps I was too young when I read those that I struggled to finish...No. I just did not like them.

So I am insecure about my lack or literary sophistication.


  1. Your literary sophistication is right up there with mine. I hated the books you listed as well. Bored me to tears and made me want to do an Oedipus Rex and pluck out my own eyes. I'd also add Native Son and Middlemarch. Blech! Incidentally, I loved all the stories on your second list. To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite book in all the land. I actually have to read it out loud when I read it so you can imagine that this book is not read on the commute to and from work. :)

    I wish you all the best as you take the NaNoWriMo challenge. I'll cheer you all month long.

  2. Hmmm, there are quite a few on your list that I never liked either (even some on your favourites list - Lord of the Flies. Bleh!) But there are some I'll read again and again. But hey, you don't need to read the classics to write one, right? Right?


  3. i barely got into the classics as a teen, but that had a lot to do w/being forced to read and the books were not aimed at teens...

    as long as you read, and read what you like! you will learn about writing. i'm hardly a sophisticated literary writer, but thats ok! there are all kind of readers for me to reach that will like my stuff!

    you too!

  4. Of the eleven that you hated, I've only read two (although I loved them both). Of the eight that you loved, I've read three. Loved two, hated one. Believe me, there are people with a lot less literary sophistication than you - I'm one of them :-)

    I console myself with the thought that I'm not trying to write a literary classic, just something that people can enjoy. I doubt I'll ever be studied in schools!

  5. I think you are brave and awesome for admitting to not liking some classics. I hate a lot of them too and I too was afraid that people might judge me. But i just figure to each his own. So do not worry about it. You are not alone.

  6. I had to laugh about your experience with Great Expectations. I think I had a nightmarish flashback in thinking about reading it as well.

  7. First let me say, Congratulations that you joined NaNo. I’m not doing it this year and I feel like I’ve been left out of an inside joke. In the writer community, I can always tell it is November because it’s quieter with blogs and such. I wish you luck!

    You’re not alone with the ‘lack of literary sophistication’. I quit halfway through Anna Karenina and The Count of Monte Cristo , not because they were poorly written, but because the writing back then was different. There is so much repetitiveness in some of the classics and I don’t have the patience to ride it out.

    But that’s me. I’ve been berated by some writers for not enjoying the classics, although I do enjoy some of them. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of my favorite books. I also liked William Faulkner’s, As I Lay Dying. Aside from a few, I haven’t come close to reading the most popular classics, such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye.

    P.S. I just saw you had listed The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot. Geez, I couldn’t stand poetry after reading that one in school. Any poem that has more footnotes than the poem itself isn’t worth reading if you asked me...but you didn’t. :D

  8. I actually wrote a post about this once. (Wuthering Heights in particular) You don't have to love every single classic to be a great writer, You just showing that you know what your taste is! By the way I love the name Bennett too, huge swaying factor when I met my husband. Too bad I can't name any of my children Bennett, lol!

  9. Thank you, and thanks for making me not feel so stupid.

  10. Thanks, Sarah. You make an excellent point. I doubt I will ever be studied in schools either.

  11. Thank you. I was very worried about admitting this. I feel better knowing that others did not enjoy all of the classic either

  12. Thanks. It feels so good to know that I am not alone

  13. Thanks you. I feel better knowing I am not alone. I had to laugh when I read your comment about T.S. Elliot and the footnotes. I know what you mean. I can't believe I am going to push a novel after what I just wrote, but I hope you will read To Kill A Mockingbird. It is a great book.

  14. Bennett, Bennett. I guess not huh. I will try to read your post about the classics this week. Thank you

  15. Eh, Walden made me stabby! Hate. HATE. The dude was full of it. How you gonna rough it while living a mile away from family? C'mon now.

    The Illiad and the Odyssey, on the other hand are in my list of favorites. Strong love.

  16. Interesting post :) I think it's completely okay to not like them. You're a writer, not a sheep.

  17. I didn't like The Scarlet Letter. There, I've said it. That's pretty freeing!

  18. You've got a lot of great books on your love list, but i kind of love a few from your hate list, too. Ah, I do love the classics.

  19. Thank you so much for your incredibly sweet post on my blog, and I'm so excited to find yours! And OH MAN, I cringe every time I think about The Old Man and the Sea. That was miserable, miserable reading in my opinion, too!

  20. Wait... I'm supposed to have literary sophistication?! Dang! I am sunk.

  21. A long list indeed. I think I actually read a couple of them back in the old days :-)

    Take care and have a nice day :-)

    And thanks for your recent comment on My Blog

  22. I'm now a follower. Thanks for coming to my blog and clicking the friend connect button.

    I've had the same issue with some of the classics. Sometimes I think it's a matter of time and circumstance that contributes to how much we like something. Also age when read is probably a factor. There have been some books I just did not resonate with and probably would not like them no matter what.

    A Faraway View

  23. I think one of the reasons that people don't like the classics (or some of them) is because they are not used to the writing style and they get bogged down in all the descriptions that today's writing tends not to have. A classic is something to be read slowly, with patience, and savored.


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