It turns out, a lot of people enjoyed last week's article where I listed seven of my absolute favorite books. I really enjoyed doing that list, and a friend suggested I do more! This week I've decided to write about books that may not necessarily be modern. All of the books on this list I had some sort of difficulty reading, be it that it was just challenging or even that I disliked it a little. Regardless, I still would recommend them to someone who was serious about literature or just has a passion for reading. Each book has some obvious strengths and weaknesses that I will go over.
1. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
I actually really loved The Great Gatsby. It's the second fastest I've ever finished a book, clocking in at just over 4 hours. A major weakness I noticed was that all of the characters are so bland in the first twenty or so pages, I never even bothered learning their names. To this day, I could tell you what the book is about, and what specific characters did, but I do not recall all of their names. However, I absolutely love Gatsby himself. Great movie too, both versions.
2. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger, 1951
My goodness, do I hate this book. It's just a giant pile of garbage that people like to pretend is literature. I don't think it's "deep" because the main character is so "real" or whatever people say. It's just poorly written, and I don't care if that's part of the point. And yet, I have no idea why I recommend it. I couldn't tell you why, but I definitely think it is good that I read it.
3. Les Misérables - Victor Hugo, 1862
Les Mis is a challenge, and definitely a welcome one. Victor Hugo seems very incredibly apt at describing random innocuous details that honestly slow the story down a little bit. At least, that's my impression from the translation. It was really hard to push through, but the book is really good. The musical, as exceptional as it is, misses quite a bit. I mean, it's a massive book.
4. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews, 2012
I'm not a huge fan of this book, but I won't lie and say it didn't move me. The author uses a lot of meta remarks about how it's not supposed to be a good book, and that bothers me, but it doesn't ruin the book. This was the fastest I have ever read a book, at about 3 and a half hours. I'm not sure why, but it's something special and not all that great, all at once.
5. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark - William Shakespeare, 1599-1602
Very challenging, very rewarding. As with anything Shakespeare, prepare to have your comprehension stretched. I love this story, and specifically Hamlet's monologue in the middle part. Very exceptional read. Recommended only for those who want a challenge.
6. The Divine Comedy - Dante Alighieri, 1320
The Divine Comedy, or as I call it, Dante's Catholic Fan-fiction Adventure, is another of the more difficult reads. I actually do thoroughly enjoy it, with Inferno being my favorite of the three parts. There's a mild lull in Purgatory, but it does not detract from the full value. In fact, it kind of makes sense.
7. Honorable Mention - "The Waste Land" - T.S. Eliot, 1922
I've grown fond of adding poems in during my honorable mention part I suppose. "The Waste Land" is an exceptional journey of a poem, something you absolutely need to set time aside for. I suggest reading it all in one go, somewhere quiet and isolated.