Masterpiece Monday: 5 Classics I Will Never Read

Last week I discussed the five classic novels that I really want to read, and I’m happy to say that I’m making a dent on that list. I finished Francesca Segal’s The Innocents, and now I’ve moved on to Kafka’s The Trial. I haven’t read enough to make an opinion yet, but keep a look out for my review of The Innocents this week.

Today I want us to be completely honest. We all love books–there’s no denying that–but let’s face it, we don’t love all books. There are stories so bad that we wouldn’t touch them with a fifty foot pole. Most of these stories are easy to mock, like 50 Shades of Grey, but what happens when the literary world has dubbed them as masterpieces? Do we still voice our hatred or bury it deep down to avoid offending the literati?

Well, I’m not afraid of speaking my mind, so without further delay, these are the five classics I will never read, unless bribed or under threat of torture:

1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851): I have disliked Melville ever since I read his short stories “Bartleby the Scrivener” and “Benito Cereno.” His writing is so dull and dry that I cannot imagine being able to read an entire novel about a man hunting a whale. I’m sure under the surface there’s some wonderful symbolism, but the surface makes me want to fall asleep. How can this guy have been neighbors with Nathaniel Hawthorne? That’s like saying Kristen Stewart lives next to Meryl Streep. They may both be in the same profession, but they might as well be on different planets. Call me Ishmael? Call me never.

2. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929): I’ve stated many times before that my least favorite writing style has to be stream of consciousness, of which Faulkner is king. If it wasn’t for Sparknotes, I would never have finished his Intruder in the Dust. It was such a frustrating reading experience that I swore off Faulkner forever. If I wanted to read insanely long, incoherent sentences which ramble about nothing of significance, I would work in politics.

3. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925): I wish that I liked Woolf, because I think she lived a fascinating life. Nicole Kidman played her beautifully in the film adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. But I have never been so bored as when I read her novel To the Lighthouse. Almost nothing happens. The characters want to go to the lighthouse, but put it off for decades. By the time they go, some have died and it’s just not the same. I’m surprised that Woolf and Faulkner weren’t partners in a writing workshop, because Woolf’s stream of consciousness is just as bad.

4. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843): This has to be the most overdone, cliché story of all time. Seriously, check out this Wikipedia page; it’s mind-boggling. I dislike most Christmas stories in general for being sappy lessons about morality and childhood innocence, but this one takes the cake. We get it: Scrooge is a humbug, and the three ghosts of his past, present, and future fill his heart with Christmas spirit. Excuse the Valley Girl reference, but gag me with a spoon. Dickens himself doesn’t suck, because I loved A Tale of Two Cities, but if A Christmas Carol was never adapted again, I think the world would be a better place.

5. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955): Ok, if someone could write me an absolutely stellar review of this novel–like it changed your life forever–then I might consider reading this one, but only out of morbid curiosity. Let’s face it, Lolita is the most famous story about a pedophile ever written. I’m pretty squeamish, and I’m apprehensive about the emotional trauma that might occur from being stuck in the mind of a sick bastard. Nabokov is the only author on this list that I haven’t read personally, so I think it might be better to test out one of his other novels first.

Alright, I just unleashed a ton of controversial opinions, so feel free to share your own. Should we agree to disagree? Which books do you not want to waste time reading? Don’t be afraid to shout out your thoughts–trust me, it’s therapeutic!

7 thoughts on “Masterpiece Monday: 5 Classics I Will Never Read

  1. There is one really good adaptation of A Christmas Carol – The Blackadder TV special based on it. It was brilliant because it worked in reverse – he starts off really nice, and then sees how his ancestors and descendants manipulate people and are horrible to get what they want, and he realises he’s been missing out because he’s been so nice to everybody. It’s really very funny.
    I started reading Lolita, but I can’t finish it. I really don’t like it – it’s not an interesting story, and it is sick and just wrong. I don’t get why people think it’s this great story (I know some who do), I don’t think it’s anything remarkable in an intellectual or academic sense either. It’s just…gross.
    I do however, quite like Virginia Woolf. She’s a bit of a nutcase though, but there’s something that fascinates me enough to draw me into her worlds. I particularly liked Orlando, which is strange but perhaps more eventful than some of her other works.

    • At least that adaptation sounds interesting, because most of them are mind-numbing. And thanks for adding your thoughts on Lolita, since I was afraid of putting that one on my list. As for Woolf, she’s just one of those authors that I enjoy more than their writing, which I find odd. Watch “The Hours” if you haven’t already!

  2. Hello.
    I’ve just come across your blog whilst searching for something else.
    At 1st I intended to make some comments on “Mrs Dalloway” in particular or stream of consciousness in general, but it’s just a personal preference. (I might change my mind, I’m very unlikely to read anything by James Joyce, especially “Ulysees”). However, as a Nabokov fan, I must say that “Lolita” is a great work of art. Lots of people have read it for the wrong reason- it’s much, much more than just a book about paedophilia. As this is the 1st time I’m here, I don’t know anything about you, but if you like beautiful and sophisticated language, word play, anagrams, puns, read “Lolita”. Or, I recommend “The real life of Sebastian Knight”, another novel by Nabokov (which I personally prefer to “Lolita”).

  3. Sorry.
    There should be a “but” there.

    (I might change my mind, but I’m very unlikely to read anything by James Joyce, especially “Ulysees”).

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Many people have said such about Lolita, which is why I hesitated to put it on my list. Maybe one day I will get the courage to read it, but for now there’s so many classics I would rather read first. Feel free to share your opinions anytime!

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