Classics Club: the May Question


This month the Classics Club question is about which classics we might be avoiding:

Which classic work has caused you to become a master in avoidance? It’s not necessarily because you’re intimidated but maybe there are works out there that just cause you to have the Dracula reaction: cape-covered arm up in front of face with a step back reaction?

To answer this question I’m only considering the books on my Classics Club list. They are all books I own and at one time thought that I’d like to read them but I suppose I am avoiding some of them as they never figure when I’m wondering which book to read next. Why am I avoiding them? I’m not really sure. They are usually long books such as:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra – I’ve started to read this a few times and have given up because the printed copy I have is old in a very small font and I think I’d do better with a different (more modern?) translation. But there are so many to choose from – anyone got any recommendations?

Books by Elizabeth GaskellMary Barton, North and South and Wives and Daughters. I really do want to read these, but each time I think about them my mind glazes over and I pick something else. Again they are long books.

Then there is Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome – this is shorter, but it’s another book I’ve started a couple of times and put down. People say it’s very funny, but I haven’t found it even amusing so far – I should read on, I suppose.

Sometimes it’s just down to the fact that it’s just not the right time for me to read a book.

10 thoughts on “Classics Club: the May Question”

  1. I love Elizabeth Gaskell. Do give her a go. She’s not dry at all and full of interesting characters. For various reason’t I would like to give Trollope a go. But his books get picked up, put down etc.


  2. Jessica and Sarah, I’m going to look at one of Gaskell’s books this summer.

    Sarah, I’ve read The Warden which is short compared to some Trollope’s other books, so maybe a good book to start with. I’ve also read The Way We Live Now, which I also enjoyed. I think it helped that I’d just watched a TV adaptation!


  3. Trollope for me too – I keep meaning to read him but he always ends up at the bottom of the list. I think it’s worth digging around for a good translation of Don Quixote, because it is quite enjoyable, but so many of the old translations are dry and old-fashioned. I’ve heard the Edith Grossman or John Rutherford translations are good (but I don’t speak Spanish, so am not the best judge).


  4. Margaret – I think timing may have an awful lot to do with it. Sometimes you pick up a book and you just know you need some other kind of novel. I know that has happened to me. If you ever do read Don Quixote I’ll be interested in what you think of it.


  5. I’m biased, because I wasn’t keen, but I’d say leave Gaskell a little longer, they do take awhile. Have you thought of finding an ebook version of Don Quixote? Thinking the adjustable font might help make it less daunting.

    What Margot has said, I have to agree. I think often we can get away with it, so to speak, but if it doesn’t feel time then rarely will the book work.


    1. Charlie, that’s the beauty of e-books, isn’t it? My local library has got a copy of the Grossman translation – I’ll see what the font size is like etc and may end up getting an e-copy!


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