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Thursday, 16 June 2011

Books I Couldn't Read

As some people may know, today is Bloomsday. With that in mind, the Internet is awash with people either congratulating themselves on having blundered through Ulysses or demonstrating their wisdom by happily pointing out they've never tried to read the thing. Personally, I've read it twice. It was one of the set texts on my undergraduate Modernism unit. I remember hating it the first time I tried then giving it a second shot and actually... well, I don't think I loved it but I certaininly hated it less. In the exam we had a choice of focusing on the novel or Eliot's The Waste Land. I don't think many people focused on Ulysses but I did. I felt it owed me a pass! Anyway, Bloomsday prompted me to take a look at my own bookshelves and those books I haven't yet read. This isn't including my ever-increasing TBR pile, which includes everything I intend to read in the next six to eight months. Nope, these are the ones I'm not so sure about ever reading. All advice gratefully received.

A Passage to India, E.M Forster
Bought for my Colonialism and Post Colonialism unit but never read.

Scenes of Clerical Life, George Eliot
Immensely difficult to get into. Bought a cheap version on a whim.

London Fields, Martin Amis
Purchased for some unit or other. Have since developed a dislike for the man which puts me off reading it.

The Time Traveller's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
Was in a 3 for 2 and never got around to reading it.

Mary Barton, Elizabeth Gaskell
Recommended text for my Victorian unit but couldn't find time to read it.

True Tales of American Life, ed Paul Scott
Recommended text for one of my units. Never got round to it.

A Journal of the Plague Year, Daniel Defoe
Bought on a whim, never found time to read it.

The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot
Fancied reading more of her work after finishing Silas Marner but it failed to grab me.

Adam Bede, George Eliot
Has the distinction of being the first classic I bought of my own free will. Alas, I never read the thing.

The Waves, Virginia Woolf
Exceptionally difficult to get into, even for a Modernist text. I gave up after a few pages.

So...what do you think? Any books in the list I should bump to my TBR pile? Oh, and as a final note, for years my dad's copy of Ulysses (never read) came in useful as just the right thickness to keep the dresser without a foot from wobbling. All great books have their uses!


Irene Palfy said...

Haha! Loved that "all great books.." bit!

I can totally see why these books you listed are still waiting for you..

The Amateur Casual said...

I'd recommend reading 'A Journal of the Plague Year'. I really enjoyed it, and it's actually the last book I read that isn't Victorian!

'Journal' is a superb piece of journalism.

CharmedLassie said...

Irene - I'm guessing you're not a fan of any of them then!

AC - I find it amusing that there are quite a few Victorian texts on there and you recommend one that isn't! But since I value your opinion so highly it's moving over to the towering pile.

Shelley said...

I just recently read Ulysses, and was far from loving it, but I can see how it might improve with a second reading. As for your list, George Eliot is one of my favorites, so of course I have to give the thumbs up on those. I tried Time-Traveller's Wife and just couldn't finish.

The Amateur Casual said...

There are quite a few Victorian books there, but I must admit, 'Journal' stands out like a beacon!

I think its one of those books that you need to have read, a real thumb-tack in the noticeboard of our history, and so well written (once you get used to the language)

CharmedLassie said...

Shelley - I think it was being forced to read Middlemarch very quickly that led to my problems with Eliot. That said, I did love Silas Marner so I should really make the effort!

AC - I remember taking it to work on the bus one day and opening it. I read the first page several times and then that evening I switched the book in my bag! I'll persevere next time.