Which classic novels/authors haven't you read?

M. Robert Gibson

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Inspired by @Elckerlyc's confession found here, I started wondering which other novels or authors everyone else hasn't read. And by classics I mean those books/authors that everyone knows about.

I'll go first.
Of the classic authors I haven't read any Dickens, Hemingway, Austen, Brontes, Steinbeck, Tolstoy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Christie, Woolf and many, many others

Books I'll admit to not reading Moby Dick, any Sherlock Holmes, To Kill a Mockingbird to name but three.

On genre, no Mieville or Gibson adorn my bookshelves (plus quite a few of the more modern era)

As for genre novels, I've not got around to reading Flowers for Algernon, A Canticle for Liebowitz, The Left Hand of Darkness, Ender's Game
I've only read the first Narnia book.

So come on. Confession time.

Here's a list of authors to help with the shame.

and some books

and some sci-fi books

and some sci-fi authors
 

Randy M.

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Their titles are legion.

I haven't read War and Peace, Ulysses, Madame Bovary, God's Little Acre, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Nights at the Circus, or Geek Love; none of the novels of Joyce Cary or D. H. Lawrence or Thomas Hardy, or Zola, or Goethe, or Joyce Carol Oates for that matter ...

Mysteries/crime: Uncle Silas; The Moonstone; Gaudy Night; a slew of Walter Mosley novels (he writes faster than I can read!); most of Dennis Lehane and Donna Leon; Louise Penny's series after book 3; The Red Right Hand; anything by John Franklin Bardin; The Big Clock; Nightmare Alley ...

SF/fantasy/horror: I haven't read much by Gene Wolfe, I've still swathes of Ursula K. Le Guin left to read; not read much by Delany or Zelazny or Pohl or Budrys. I still have a lot of stories to read by Cordwainer Smith, C. M. Kornbluth and Henry Kuttner, and I really mean to read The Past Through Tomorrow if nothing else by Heinlein. I haven't read several novels by Fredric Brown, notably The Lights in the Sky are Stars, or any novel by Eric Frank Russell or Joanna Russ.

I haven't read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court or Lud-in-the-Mist or Little Big or The War for the Oaks or Moonwise or Gormanghast or Perdido Street Station or The Riddle-Master of Hed or Night's Master or The Night Land or anything by Steven Brust.

I should tackle Doctor Faustus, The Monk, The Sound of his Horn, Lost Souls, Silk, House of Leaves, The Cipher ...

I'm thinking I'm going to need a longer retirement.

Randy M.
 

Extollager

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I haven't located it, but I thought I might have posted here about the number of different books I estimated that I had read. Though I read all the time, the number was surprisingly low, for someone with so many years of reading completed. I reread a lot.

So the list of "classics" that I haven't read would be pretty extensive. Here is just a quick response.

First, I've read hardly any of the recognized literary classics of France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Greece.

Many of the famous literary books of the 20th century -- some of which I might regard it as premature to describe as "classics," but they may be thus described by some -- I haven't read.

In sf -- I have read little by Heinlein, Bester, Sheckley, Leinster, Anderson, Cordwainer Smith, &c.

In fantasy -- I have read little by such typical Ballantine reprint authors as Cabell, Eddison (just The Worm Ouroboros), &c.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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From the list of "classics": I seem to be weak on French literature -- Proust, Flaubert, Stendhal are unknown quantities to me. I have a pretty decent knowledge of the English language novels on the list, for the most part, and a familiarity with Dostoevsky.

On the SF list, suffice to say that I have not read most of the newer books, and have read most of the older ones.

On the list of authors, I am not at all familiar with the works of Adams, Pratchett, Banks, Gaiman, Cherryh (save exactly one short story), Stephenson, E. E. Smith (I've tried, but I simply cannot finish a work by him), Burroughs, Bujold, Scalzi, Weber, Feist, Mieville, Hamilton, Eddings, Drake, and Weir. So, for me to read you, you better not be very old, very new, a comic writer, or a writer of epic fantasy or military SF.
 

Randy M.

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So, for me to read you, you better not be very old, very new, a comic writer, or a writer of epic fantasy or military SF.

Or French?

I'm quite weak there, too. Also German. Also Spanish, including Latin American. Smatterings at best in all of their literatures.

Randy M.
 

The Big Peat

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Easier to list what I've read than what I haven't on the first link - Aeneid/Iliad/Odyssey and Hamlet. Maybe I should branch out more into literary fiction but... meh. I likewise have a meh interest in Sci-Fi and have only read Herbert, Heinlein and Vance as Sci-Fi authors.

Fantasy - Yet to read anything by Poul Anderson, CJ Cherryh, MacDonald, Ashton-Smith or Brust. Very little of Zelzany or Vance as Fantasy authors either. Think that's about it.
 

Venusian Broon

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Very little of Zelzany or Vance as Fantasy authors either. Think that's about it.

I'm not quite meh with Fantasy, and have read a bit (not masses, but enough to point out bit and pieces), but I do have a big soft spot for Vance's Dying Earth series. I have no idea where it fits in any scheme of subgenres of fantasy, but I think of it as very 'D&D' - well before the game came about.

As for books I think I probably should have read but just haven't - anything by the Brontë's or by Jane Austen. Never seemed to be in the mood (although I do think I would probably like them.)

Closer to home, I've filled in quite a lot of SF works and authors, so can't really put a finger on any major holes. Orson Scott Card? L. Ron Hubbard? (As I am sure many know here, Captain Hubbard was one of the big four in the golden age of SF, before he decided to dabble in religion, hence his inclusion here :))
 

Elckerlyc

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Inspired by @Elckerlyc's confession ........

I am surprised to see my confession had the power to inspire people. :D (I should probably do something with that power)
The downside is that, being the inspirator, I cannot ignore this thread and the call for even more confessions....
Where to begin? It would be easier to list what I have read, when talking about the classics.

Of the classic authors I haven't read any Dickens, Hemingway, Austen, Brontes, Steinbeck, Tolstoy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Christie, Woolf and many, many others
... Moby Dick, any Sherlock Holmes, To Kill a Mockingbird ....
This could have been my list. Of these authors I have read Austen (enjoyed Pride and Prejudice), tried to read Dickens (Irritating style, his works are more suited to be reworked into a (screen)-play) and I may have read Moby Dick (long time ago). And that's it. I watched 'To kill a Mockingbird' as a movie, though, and also the BBC miniseries 'War and Peace'. Oh, and I read Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone. <memory kicks in> And Jules Verne (several novels), Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Treasure Island, Les Miserables, some Jack London.... I have read more than I knew!
Nothing from Shakespeare, but I go watch 1 play every year.

Generally speaking, I read to entertain myself, which quite often excludes literature. Maybe this has been caused in my early reading days by having to read Dutch classic works. Blame the mandatory reading list!

As for classic SFF.... Too much to list what I have read and too much to list what I haven't read. I will mention Theodore Sturgeon, though (More than Human, The Dreaming Jewels). These have made the most impression on me, back in the day.
 
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Bick

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Of the classic authors I haven't read any Dickens, Hemingway, Austen, Brontes, Steinbeck, Tolstoy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Christie, Woolf and many, many others...
Books I'll admit to not reading Moby Dick, any Sherlock Holmes, To Kill a Mockingbird to name but three.
Crikey - I've read all of the authors in your first list, and all the books in the second list... of course I have blind spots in my reading history too. Probably too many to name. I've not (yet) read any Dumas, Walter Scott or Proust. The first two are authors I intend reading soon.

For SFF I'm actually struggling to think of an author I've not read at all - oh yes, Stanislaw Lem, Boris & Arkady Strugatsky, and Brunner come to mind. Oh, and Connie Willis.
 

Vince W

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Crikey - I've read all of the authors in your first list, and all the books in the second list... of course I have blind spots in my reading history too. Probably too many to name. I've not (yet) read any Dumas, Walter Scott or Proust. The first two are authors I intend reading soon.

For SFF I'm actually struggling to think of an author I've not read at all - oh yes, Stanislaw Lem, Boris & Arkady Strugatsky, and Brunner come to mind. Oh, and Connie Willis.
That's impressive Bick. Although you should work some Dumas into your reading. His stories are wonderful adventures.

I have a number of gaps in my reading. I've never read Kafka and can't imagine wanting to. I've also never read Ayn Rand or J.K. Rowling. I can't believe Dan Brown is on the first list. To quote Stephen Fry on The DaVinci Code: "The worst bit of ass gravy ever written."
 

tegeus-Cromis

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Fortunately, I guess, I was a book-obsessed child, so I read a ton of Verne and Dumas before I was ten (then I read "The Count of Monte Cristo" just a few years ago, which made me realize that as a child I had significantly more tolerance for indifferent prose), along with "Oliver Twist" and "Ivanhoe" (still the only Dickens and Scott, respectively, I've ever read)... And when I was twelve I got obsessed with Steinbeck and read maybe eight of his novels in a row. So my childhood helps me not do quite so poorly on this...

That said. I've never finished a Tolstoy or a Balzac. Never finished "Ulysses" or "Moby Dick" either. My gaps in SFF are even more glaring, since (as mentioned) I really can't slog through indifferent prose. So I read all the Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, and Clarke I've ever read in my teens, and I don't see myself getting back to them anytime soon. I was never able to get through "Dune." I don't know if I've ever finished a book by Michael Moorcock. I'm sure I could think of many other examples...
 

tegeus-Cromis

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Crikey - I've read all of the authors in your first list, and all the books in the second list... of course I have blind spots in my reading history too. Probably too many to name. I've not (yet) read any Dumas, Walter Scott or Proust. The first two are authors I intend reading soon.

For SFF I'm actually struggling to think of an author I've not read at all - oh yes, Stanislaw Lem, Boris & Arkady Strugatsky, and Brunner come to mind. Oh, and Connie Willis.
Of Lem's, everyone would probably recommend "Solaris," but I find "The Cyberiad" absolutely hilarious. I've read it numerous times over the years, since my cousin and I first discovered it, when we were twelve or thirteen. Proust I am (very) slowly making my way through, reading the French and the English in parallel. I'm currently on the third volume (of seven). The first volume, "Swann's Way," is perhaps the densest -- but also the most gorgeous. It's like reading a (humongously) extended prose poem. Brunner I remember reading -- specifically "Stand on Zanzibar" -- when I was 16 or 17. I liked it. It was my introduction to the whole New Wave, which is still my favorite kind of SF. (Other than Moorcock, I guess...)
 

tegeus-Cromis

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Honestly, if I would recommend ONE book to anybody, it would be "Madame Bovary." I think I've read it five times. I even ran a book club on it. I can't think of a more beautiful book. I recommend the Lydia Davis translation. (I checked all the translations available to pick one for the book club). "The Sentimental Education" is great too, and "Bouvard and Pecuchet" is hilarious. I wouldn't recommend his "Salammbo," which sounds interesting (basically, historical fantasy), but can be deadly dull.
 

Bick

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That said. I've never finished a Tolstoy or a Balzac.
Woah. If you search around for Balzac here you’ll see I’m a bit of a Balzac fan, having read 6 or so of his novels in the last 4-5 years. And you HAVE to read War and Peace. It really is a must read. Your life will be lesser if you don’t.

But many thanks for all the thoughts and feedback on other authors - very interesting to read other’s perspectives.
 

Robert Zwilling

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I would say half the classics posted here I read in school simply because there was no choice, but being forced to read Twain, Steinbeck, Dickens was not a punishment, anyway I liked reading them. Other authors like Verne, Twain, Wells, Hersey, Hesse, Hemingway, Steinbeck, were always for sale in the school libraries, enjoyed reading those. About the only thing I balked at was Shakespeare, didn't finish one of them though I did get to the last page somehow, probably the first books I skimmed and the test scores showed it.

No Austen, Joyce, or Kafka. No Lawrence or Hardy. Never read Tolkien, Narnia, Adams, Rowling, Collins or Gibson, though I have 2 Gibsons kicking around. No Miller, McCarthy, Haldeman, King, Banks, Stephenson, Gaiman. Tried several of them but it was a no go from the start.

Seeing what people missed, like Zelaney, how could one miss those, but maybe it was in the timing. Being there when the books came out, authors from your own country probably more favored by the powers to be, or were still on the book shelves of stores because they still sold now and then.

Then there is the problem of having read endless quantities of science fiction easily found/purchased at local stores in the 70s, new or used, and now many of them, like the stores, are just memories.

Other works, like Thomas Wolf's Look Homeward Angel, and You Can't Go Home Again are forever residing in my mind.
 

tegeus-Cromis

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Woah. If you search around for Balzac here you’ll see I’m a bit of a Balzac fan, having read 6 or so of his novels in the last 4-5 years. And you HAVE to read War and Peace. It really is a must read. Your life will be lesser if you don’t.

But many thanks for all the thoughts and feedback on other authors - very interesting to read other’s perspectives.
To correct myself, I did read, a couple of times, "The Unknown Masterpiece," but that's just a short story and, from what I can tell, atypical of Balzac's work. My dad loves Balzac and when I was younger would try to push him on me, but I guess it never took -- which is funny, because I love both Stendhal and Flaubert, who, as it were, bracket him. Tolstoy -- I don't know. Part of it has to do with my hating to read translations, but I've never found a version in English that seemed to really "sing," as it were. (That said, I loved reading Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin" in the Johnston translation. It's a masterpiece in its own right.)
 

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