Ten Classics I've Never Read

I’m going to start this one by saying this: I have a degree in English Literature. I’ve taught 9th grade literature, British Literature and AP. Currently I’m a reading specialist. Sometimes I think it’s crazy what I got through my degree and didn’t (choose to) read.

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10. Hamlet by William Shakespeare. I actually managed to avoid most of Shakespeare during college. Not sure why I did that. I actually loved teaching Shakespeare.
9 & 8. Jane Eyre & Emma by Charlotte Bronte. Wuthering Heights turned me off, really. I know Emily and Charlotte Bronte are two different writers, but for whatever reason, my adolescent brain always coupled them together.
7. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I think they teach this one at the high school in my district (honestly, the amount of Steinbeck on the reading list is ridiculous). I probably avoided this one because I’m not the world’s biggest fan of historical fiction, but would much rather read about the early 1920s than the Depression.
6. The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I think I wasn’t in the right place to read this one before. I remember starting it in college and then putting it down to read other things. It might be time to come back to this one.
5. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. This is another I started and put down. Honestly, I just didn’t get what was going on.
4 & 3. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyskevsky; War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I have thus far managed not to read any Russian literature. Not sure how that happened. I may have been intimidated by the length and having heard about “keeping track of all those Russian names.”
2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I was supposed to read this for Mr. Armstrong’s 10th grade Honors English class. I was supposed to read this for British Literature class Junior year of college. I tried to read it a few years ago. I just can’t.
1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. This is one that I’ve refused to read. I feel like I got the lowdown reading other things (and seeing the movie with Patrick Stewart — does this make me a bad English major?). And it’s that blatant refusal that earns Moby Dick, Captain Ahab and Ishmael the number one spot.

Clearly, this list is overwhelmingly male and overwhelmingly white. I thought about what classic books from African-American authors (besides Ellison) I’d add, but I read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Native Son and Go Tell it on the Mountain and Things Fall Apart (I realize that Achebe is Nigerian, so don’t holler at me for that). BTW, my Black lit and Women’s lit classes were my favorites.

What classics “should” you have read that you haven’t? Or won’t?

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