Thoughts #30: Five Classics I STILL Haven’t Read!


Despite having always been a big reader, I really do feel that I haven’t read enough classics. I’ve obviously felt this way for a while, having set up my Classics Challenge a few years ago. My recent re-read and following love for Jane Eyre has only served to remind me that there are so many wonderful classics out there that I need to hurry up and read! I wanted to share some of those with you today, and would love to know if you’ve read any of them, and what you thought.

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Vanity Fair

Scorned for her lack of money and breeding, Becky Sharp must use all her wit, charm and considerable sex appeal to escape her drab destiny as a governess. From London’s ballrooms to the battlefields of Waterloo, the bewitching Becky works her wiles on a gallery of memorable characters, including her lecherous employer, Sir Pitt, his rich sister, Miss Crawley, and Pitt’s dashing son, Rawdon, the first of Becky’s misguided sexual entanglements. Vanity Fair is a richly entertaining comedy that asks the reader, “Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?”

Having recently re-watched the film adaptation of Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray and starring Reese Witherspoon, I was yet again questioning why I still haven’t read this. It’s witty and satirical, and I really enjoyed the film. Becky is a wonderful character and a total breath of fresh air compared to many of the female characters of her day. She’s determined, intelligent – and she knows how to use her gender as a weapon for her own benefit. The only thing that’s putting me off at the moment is the length of the book – around 750 pages. But I won’t know until I try, right?

The Odyssey by Homer

The Odyssey

The Odyssey recounts the story of Odysseus’ return to Ithaca from the Trojan war and tells how, championed by Athene and hounded by the wrathful sea-god Poseidon, Odysseus encounters the ferocious Cyclops, escapes Scylla and Charybdis and yields temporarily to the lures of Circe and Calypso before he overcomes the trials awaiting him on Ithaca. Only then is he reunited with his faithful wife Penelope, his wanderings at an end.

Oops. I know, I know. Having done my Bachelors degree in Ancient History and Archaeology, I probably should have already read The Odyssey, right? Well… I haven’t. Yet. I have read The Iliad though, and really love that one. I have this on my Kindle, but I also have a gorgeous Penguin edition which I’d much rather read than the ebook version.

The Monk by Matthew Lewis

The Monk

Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The great struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character, the monk Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, then to sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder in order to conceal his guilt.

I can’t remember how I first came across The Monk by Matthew Lewis, but I knew that I had to read it. Although looking at the blurb now, that seems like a strange thing to say… That was over three years ago, and I still haven’t made any progress. I feel like it might be quite a difficult one to read, but as long as it’s not The Scarlet Letter standards of difficult (WORST. BOOK. EVER.) then I’m good.

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray sells his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Under the influence of Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, where he is able to indulge his desires while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only Dorian’s picture bears the traces of his decadence.

Ahh, The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, I have attempted to read you before. I was foolishly swayed by the film version starring Ben Barnes, but you’re not really much like that, are you? I did enjoy what I read of the book (around half of it), but somehow never quite finished it.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird

A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father ― a crusading local lawyer ― risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

To be honest, I’m really quite amazed that we never read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee at school – I know it was studied in previous years. Despite my love of books set in the Southern US (I really don’t know why… I blame True Blood and that enchanting Louisiana accent), I’ve just never gotten round to reading this classic.

Are there any classics you really feel you need to read soon? Have you read any of the ones on my list?


34 thoughts on “Thoughts #30: Five Classics I STILL Haven’t Read!”

  1. Can I just say shame on you for not reading the Odyssey!

    But that is the only one of the above five that I have read. I really should read more classics but there are so many other good books out there to read.

  2. Absolutely. Like many readers, I have a weird relationship with classics. I feel like I should’ve read most of them, but they are so many and a lot o them aren’t very easy to read. Of the list you made I have actually read the last two. I read the picture of Dorian Grey at school and really liked it, although most of the details have escaped my memory by now, and a couple of year ago I picked up To Kill a Mockingbird and also enjoyed it a lot. It is really quite a gripping story and I did not expect to like it that much.

    I currently want to finish Ana Karenina. I started it a few years ago and was a couple of chapters away to finishing it, but had to return the book so I never did. I want to read it all over again, but this time I want to finish it. I was enjoying it. I also want to finish Little Women which I also started but haven’t finished. I feel like I know the story so well, but I haven’t ever read it, so it’s about time.

    1. Yep, sometimes the language is just too old-fashioned, but that it makes me feel ashamed for giving up a book just for that reason! However, some classics I absolutely love, despite their language.

      Anna Karenina is not one I’m sure I’ll ever get to, but I admire you for giving it a go! I remember reading Little Women when I was younger, I liked that one 🙂

  3. The Picture of Dorian Grey- I wouldn’t waste your time. Can you remember when Mrs. Smith fell asleep while we watched the play adaption of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest? Yeah that book has the same reaction with me…

  4. Oh there are definitely some classics I feel like I should read, but haven’t. Little Women, The rest of Jane Austen (I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and Emma), North and South. I have read The Odyssey and To Kill a Mockingbird, both for school. LOVE TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD! For sure read that one.

    1. Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is kind of hilarious… or at least I found it to be. These two sisters obsessed with their potential suitor’s prospects and fortunes – he must have a fortune of at least £2000 etc! 😉

  5. Oh there are so many classics I need to read! Now that I’ve finished with Austen, I haven’t decided which one to pick up next. Maybe Lady Chatterley’s Lover – that seems like it will keep me interested. 🙂 I’ve managed to read the ones on your list though – and I think the only one I didn’t enjoy that much was The Odyssey. That might have been my translation though – but it was a long one to slog through. I LOVE The Monk, Vanity Fair and To Kill a Mockingbird, so I hope you’ll get around to reading those soon! Vanity Fair is very long, but it does go by pretty fast.

    1. Oooh, so you’ve read all of her books then? I can’t remember if you’ve read The Scarlet Pimpernel but I have a feeling we’ve discussed it before and you have…

      Lady Chatterley’s Lover is good, but the way the dialect is written can make it hard to understand at times. It also has a particularly odd scene or two 😛

      I’m glad to hear Vanity Fair goes by pretty fast. I have it on my Kindle so I know I can start it soon, but I’d rather read a physical copy due to the length – I can’t concentrate on Kindle books so easily. BUT long books on Kindle are easier to transport… what a dilemma 😛

  6. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favourite books, so I’d definitely recommend it to you. I was supposed to read it for my GCSE exams at school, but five people in the class decided it was “too hard” and we ended up doing something else, so I read it because I wanted to see what it was like and ended up loving it. I’m not much of a classics reader, but I do tend to go for the more modern (after WWII) classics, and I really want to read either Brave New World or Fahrenheit 451 next.

    1. They changed it because of that? 😮 Surely it would be better to challenge people. We read Jane Eyre, Lord of the Flies and The Crucible for GCSE, but no Mockingbird 😦

      I really liked both Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 🙂 Fahrenheit 451 was the quicker read of the two.

  7. I have read exactly… None of these, haha! I haven’t really read many classics, probably because they weren’t required reading in high school or uni. :O I really want to read The Odyssey someday though!

  8. I’ve read Dorian Gray and Vanity Fair – both are really good, but VF is a huge book and requires some patience. DG is still one of my favourites. I also have a list of classics I want to read in the near future and To Kill a Mockingbird is on it!

  9. The Picture of Dorian Gray and To Kill a Mockingbird are two of my favorites. Vanity Fair was good too. I hope you get to them! On my list would be anything by Faulkner. Also Les Miserables and Don Quixote.

  10. haha – I had read both To Kill a Mockingbird and The Picture of Dorian Gray in high school. I finished To Kill a Mockingbird. I made it maybe half way through Dorian Gray – but then we discussed it so much in class that I knew how it ended and didn’t really feel the need to go back and actually read it 🙂

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