Books, oh, so many books

Now that I’ve had some time to start digesting some books and get started on my goal of reading some of the classics I thought I would update you all on how I’m doing and what I’ve liked so far.  Even by my standards this has been a lot of reading, but remember that when it warms up outside I’ll be outside so much I won’t have time to read.  And some of these books have been so hard to put down I’ve read them too much.
So far I’ve read The Grapes of Wrath, Winter of our Discontent, The Hobbit, Main Street, Slaughterhouse 5, Crime and Punishment, 1984 and Animal Farm.  That’s my ranking of favorite books so far.  I still have a fair amount of Crime and Punishment left and a few pages of Animal Farm, but I don’t think their rankings have changed.
I was absolutely in love with The Grapes of Wrath, Winter of our Discontent and The Hobbit.  Grapes and The Hobbit were hard to understand at first, but once I got the writing language down I fell completely in love with them.  They are so amazing.  And The Grapes of Wrath is such a powerful story about a families struggle against incredible odds.  Such a great story about struggling through the Depression and the economic forces that control the lives of so many people.  Incredible.  At this point I’m probably going to try to read every Steinbeck novel.  
Crime and Punishment and Slaughterhouse 5, along with Main Street proved entertaining, but definitely did not affect me, in my core, like the other books.  I can attest though that the small town-ness of Main Street is alive and well, and that’s how it is.  I grew up in a town that was twice as big as the story town, but it was like that one.
I flat out did not care for 1984 or Animal Farm.  My list pronounced 1984 as the best novel, which I can’t understand.  I didn’t find it a joy to read like the other ones.  I won’t have any compunction about taking them back to the Used Book store to get what I can for them.

If I had known that I would read these books this fast I definitely could have gotten them from the library.  I expected this to be a good couple months of reading.  It didn’t work out that way.  I plan to keep some of these books as I like them to build up a small library of classic literature for reading pleasure.  I won’t allow myself to get anywhere near the number of books some of you have though.  What should I read now?  I picked up War and Peace and Tortilla Flats (Steinbeck).  I’ve still got Robinson Crusoe, some Stephen King books and my coworker has dug up some of her classic lit books for me to read through.  

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10 responses to “Books, oh, so many books

  1. The sad thing is that for many people reading the classics is a CHORE, not the joy you have discovered. Keep posting about this because it’s important that folks know past masters knew how to tell great stories and there are very good reasons why their works still resonate with us hundreds–in the case of Homer, Euripedes, thousands–of years later…

  2. Hey Matt, check out Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I enjoyed it when I read it last year.

  3. I don’t think 1984 or Animal Farm are considered great either for their story or Orwell’s writing. They are considered great due to the way Orwell addresses totalitarianism & socialism. I’ve read both books, but it’s been a while and I plan on revisiting them.

    Orwell’s skewering of the Soviet system and totalitarianism in general was so accurate because he was in the middle of things. He fought in the Spanish Civil War on the leftist side with the anarchists (he came to hate the Soviets due to his experiences there). Later in WWII he was actively engaged in writing propaganda for the British, which helped him write 1984.

    I don’t know that I’d call Orwell’s writing engaging, but it is eye-opening… especially considering the surveillance society that is coming to exist in the UK & USA. Orwell saw this coming a long time ago.

    For more classics, Plato’s “The Republic” is on my list.

  4. I felt like the information was ho-hum. Perhaps in the time period of when it was written it is ground breaking, but given the breakup of the Soviet Union and the fact that I’ve grown up knowing everything he talks about, they were kind of boring. I’ve grown up knowing their downfalls, perhaps that’s why I wasn’t impressed by the information and looked more at the writing style and the story.

    Ben–I did try to get that one but it wasn’t at the book store.

    Cliff–Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Wow! You’re really plowing through those books!

    I’m sorry you didn’t like 1984 or Animal Farm. I rceommended them :), and thought they made some powerful statements – warnings, if you will.

    Like you, however, I LOVED The Grapes of Wrath, and many years later, I find that I am still moved by that story. Another one written in the same time period about the same era is Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie.

  6. (Wandered here through some link or another, lol) I recently set the goal for myself to read one classic a week, since they are so easy to get from the internet now. I started with A Picture of Dorian Gray which I ended up really liking. I know The Grapes of Wrath are on my list, and after hearing good things about it I’m thinking of moving it up. I’ve already read the Hobbit and Animal Farm and like you I loved the first and hated the second.

  7. I wouldn’t worry about it Wendy. I was going to read them either way. Given how much I fear our political system becoming like that it’s a surprise I didn’t like them more, but, oh well, it’s good to read a wide variety of things.

    Talbert–Definately read the Grapes of Wrath. Definately.

  8. When have you read these? Have I been taking care of the boys or sleeping or what? I have barely noticed a book in your hands. I wish I could read that fast!

  9. My copy of “1984” sits on a book shelf beside my copies of “Animal Farm”, “Fahrenheit 451” and “Brave New World”. I call them my reminder set. I try and read at least one a year. You might try the last one in that group.

    If you liked “The Hobbit” I bet you’ll love “The Lord of The Rings.” My father read it to me when I was little but I didn’t read it for myself until 2001. My plan was to read each one of the three books (actually written as one book but serialized I think to make a bit more money) before the corresponding movie came out. Instead I couldn’t stop and read straight through the whole story in just a few weeks. The movies were good but the book is much, much better.

    For some reason I think you would like Stephen King’s “The Stand.” Personally I am a big fan of Tom Robbins. “Skinny Legs and All” is probably my favorite but if you’ve never read him, I suggest giving him a try.

  10. I read some while you were out of town. When I was home for two days when E was sick. At night when you’ve been asleep. During lunch at work.

    Aaron-I’m planning to read Lord of the Rings soon. In fact, I think I’ll buy one of those box sets to keep for perpetuity so the kids can read them too.

    I’ve read the Stand a long time ago, but I’m going to revisit it. I have a friend with it so I’ll read it.

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