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Topic: A Classic Lit book you were surprised you liked?

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achadamaia avatar
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Subject: A Classic Lit book you were surprised you liked?
Date Posted: 6/15/2007 9:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
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I had to read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for a Women's Lit course.  I had in my mind the movie versions, a horror story, which I hate.  I was so surprised by the book.  I was surprised to find that I felt sorry for Frankenstein.  It's such a touching, sad, tale.

What classic lit books were your reluctant to read and found out you really enjoyed? 

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Date Posted: 6/19/2007 4:02 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2007
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the handmaid's tale and 1984! i LOVE them!


also catcher in the rye, read it a couple years ago.


i'm 18 and read all these for school, so you can see why i thought i wouldnt like em :-P

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Date Posted: 6/28/2007 12:40 AM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
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Back in HS we were assigned Faherenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I remember reading the back cover and thinking "whaaaa?" And then I got drawn into the book, the premise, the characters. It remains one of my faves to this day.

achadamaia avatar
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Date Posted: 6/28/2007 9:33 PM ET
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In high school, we did Shakespeare.  I remember loving Julius Caesar (which I expected because I was always interested in that part of history).  But, I also fell in love with The Merchant of Venice.

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Date Posted: 6/28/2007 10:57 PM ET
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The Odyssey by Homer

We read portions of it in Senior English and I liked it so much I bought a paperback and read the whole thing in one weekend. It is one of those books where you will find some translations better than others IMHO.

I loved Frankenstein and 1984 too.

MediumDebbi avatar
Date Posted: 7/9/2007 3:38 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
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I started to read "Memoirs from the House of the Dead" by F. M.  Dostoevsky . Kind of an obscure classic but now that I am into it, I have to return it to the library, only to check it out again next week LOL! I certainly did not expect to actually like it, I was going for discipline, instead I find it  pretty rich and absorbing! WOW!

If anyone out there has this for trade please PM me, it's pretty dense and I want to take my time with it.

It is interesting that Dostoyevsky narrowly, by a very thin hair, escaped being executed by firing squad, and then began to write!!! Guess I'll take him seriously now!

achadamaia avatar
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Date Posted: 7/11/2007 9:50 PM ET
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Another one was "Merchant of Venice" by Shakespeare.  I've always found Shakespeare hard to read (except for Julius Caesar--a story I was familiar with before having to read it in school).  We had to read 10th Grade English.  It was an enthralling story.  I just loved it. I think I enjoyed the concept of a woman tricking all those "smart" men.  LOL

Last Edited on: 7/11/07 9:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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Date Posted: 7/12/2007 4:02 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2007
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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, if that's considered classic.  I read it for my AP English class my senior year of high school and fell in love.  Garcia Marquez is still one of my favorite authors.

AimeeM avatar
Date Posted: 7/16/2007 4:33 PM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2007
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Waverley by Sir Walter Scott

I expected the book to be long and complicated (which it is) but I LOVED it! It is satirical, dramatic, and concidered to be the first Historical Romance novel.

It is now on my "keep forever" shelf.

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Date Posted: 7/19/2007 12:32 AM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2007
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Catcher in the Rye

Oedipus Rex and Julius Caesar

i know there is another one but i can't think of it. hah.

Heloise avatar
Date Posted: 7/26/2007 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2006
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All the Jane Austen books.  I remember when Sense and Sensibility (the movie) came out about 14 years ago.  I always knew about Jane Austen but thought the books would be boring because they were "classics."  I decided to read one after I saw S&S and I fell in love with her writing.  So now I've read them all and even branched out into some other classics.  Jane Eyre is great too. 


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Date Posted: 8/1/2007 7:40 PM ET
Member Since: 7/3/2006
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Evelina by Frances Burney. Before I read Evelina, I had always hated epistolary novels...somehow, I picked it up anyway and loved it. It didn't feel as slow and forced as most such novels do.

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Date Posted: 8/2/2007 1:19 PM ET
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A few of my favorite surprises were:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez--one of my favorite books ever

Hamlet--the language is just too perfect, also As You Like It

Wuthering Heights--I really didn't expect to love this, but I do!

The Blithedale Romance by Hawthorne--unusual but wonderful

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Date Posted: 8/4/2007 11:36 PM ET
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My Antonia, by Willa Cather.  I wasn't sure if I'd like this one or not, but as I read into it in High School I actually liked it...:) I also LOVED O Pioneers! :)

Last Edited on: 8/4/07 11:36 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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Date Posted: 8/5/2007 10:11 AM ET
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Anna Karenina by Doestevski.

I was scared of such thick books, written in another language, and another time.  His understanding of human nature and his forgiveness for the shortcomings of his characters is touching.  And Anna's story will have women readers nodding their head in agreement for either they have done equally foolish things, or known someone who has.

Remarkable that a man could write a woman's story so well.  Try it, you'll like it.

(PS - Am I supposed to include an offer of free books with this post?)  I'm brand-new to the 'community' section and would like to get into the swing of things. 

Celeste in Illinois (now) but from Texas (then).

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Date Posted: 8/15/2007 4:02 AM ET
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I was very surprised that I liked 1984 - a lot of my friends were assigned to read it in our Senior English class and they all hated it. Also, my husband started to read it to me, and I would literally fall asleep.

But when I read it on my own, I couldn't put it down. I loved it!

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Date Posted: 8/17/2007 6:27 PM ET
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Ulysses, by James Joyce. One of the most opaque, abstruse books I've ever attempted, but I'm completely enthralled.  (I'm about halfway through it right now).

Tina H.


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Date Posted: 8/19/2007 6:06 PM ET
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I absolutely dreaded reading Moby Dick in high school, because I'd always heard it was so long and difficult, but once I started reading I was totally sucked in, of course it helps that it has one of the best opening chapters ever.

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Date Posted: 9/5/2007 1:49 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
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I started these novels out of a sense of duty and was surprised they turned out to be compelling reads.

1. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. You yell at her and want to shake her, don't marry him. And she does. Talk about letting characters do what they think best....

2. The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen. Quiet coming of age, loss of innocence novel. Great atomosphere.

3. The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton. I was expecting a stuffy novel of manners but got sharp satire and a fine expatriate, international marriage story.

4. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. Another story about a guy who is a chronological adult but needs to do a lot of growing up.

Jenny28 avatar
Date Posted: 9/25/2007 6:21 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
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I must be the only person in the world who had a bad experience with Gabriel Garcia Marquez...I read Of Love and Other Demons and it depressed me into the ground.

Classics I was surprised I liked:

Brave New World - Aldous Huxeley

Turn of the Screw / Washington Square - Henry James

Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen. Best to read the Oxford Classics version of this one, as the footnotes make the humor clearer.

David Copperfield - Charles Dickens.

What would you recommend from Hardy?  I've got Jude the Obscure and liked it ok, but I've heard it's not one of his very best.


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Date Posted: 9/27/2007 9:28 AM ET
Member Since: 7/27/2007
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I hated 100 Years of Solitude the first time I read it, and I'm still fairly indifferent to it. I love Love in the Time of Cholera however.

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Date Posted: 12/19/2007 3:47 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
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I started reading Phantom of the Opera as one of those books your just supposed to get through. It completely mesmerized me! I like books with happy endings, but the story just dragged me in and wouldnt let go!

Has anyone read any of Gaston Leroux's other books?

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Date Posted: 12/19/2007 11:31 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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achadamaia:  Your reaction to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley makes me believe you will be interested to read an essay by Stephen Jay Gould, entitled "The Monster's Human Nature."  You will find it in his book, Dinosaurs in a Haystack.   If I were teaching Frankenstein, I would make Gould's essay required collateral reading. 

Gould closed the essay with a "moral statement from Charles Darwin, who, like Mary Shelley , also emphasized our duty to foster the favorable specificities that nurture and education can control.  Mary Shelley wrote a moral tale, not about hubris or technology, but about responsibility to all creatures of feeling and to the products of one's own hand.  The monster's misery arose from the moral failure of other humans, not from his own inherent and unchangeable constitution.  Charles Darwin later invoked the same theory of human nature to remind us of duties to all people in universal bonds of brotherhood---'If the misery of our poor be caused not by laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.' "

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Rick B. (bup) - ,
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Date Posted: 12/26/2007 10:16 AM ET
Member Since: 11/2/2007
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Moby Dick - Melville has such a self-aware, pseudo-intellectual style of writing. He says countenance when he means face, he says countenance when he means personality, he says countenance...a lot. I guess that's from hanging out with Hawthorne. His characters can't just 'say' - they have to 'intone,' or 'spew,' or 'let fly with violent paroxysms.' He tries to be funny at times and mostly he's not.

And yet.

Somehow Moby Dick just works. I let myself accept that we'd take long detours on essays about whales. I let myself accept that Ishmael would be a spaz and that every character's actions would be turned up to 11. I let myself accept that there would be lots of countenances, and violent paroxysms, and that every sentence would have at least three dependent clauses.

And it's one of my favorite books of all time. It just rocks.

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Subject: Little Women
Date Posted: 1/19/2008 4:24 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 19
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Its just a really satisfying read.  Especially on a cold day when you are in view of a warm fire.  I also loved A farwell to Arms and A Christmas Carol

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