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Classic and Modern Literature Recommendations

  1. Nov 27, 2004 #1
    I want to become an avid reader but there are so many books out there. So I want to know what's the best that the world of literature can offer? It can be recent or classic. I am setting no limits on the number of books recommended.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2004 #2
    One of the first books that I read in english was "Missionary travels and researches in South Africa", by David Livingstone. Very entertaining if you like adventure novels. The Project Gutenberg (where I read it) offers it for free here
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  4. Nov 27, 2004 #3
    frankenstein - mary shelley
  5. Nov 27, 2004 #4
    Any Douglas Adams book :approve:
  6. Nov 27, 2004 #5


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    1) Shakespeare's "Hamlet." You can find it online here http://www.bartleby.com/70/index42.html
    This is the Oxford edition. The Arden editions are my favoirite. Your library may have it, otherwise you'll have to buy it.
    2) Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." This work is still under copyright, but your library should have a copy. If it doesn't, shame on them :grumpy: and you'll have to buy it.
    These two are the best in their field, and, stylistically, all other works fall somewhere between them (in my opinion, of course).

    Some favorite authors and favorite works...
    Hemingway (under copyright) The Old Man and the Sea
    I generally don't like novels so can't recommend others.

    Shakespeare (http://www.bartleby.com/70/) Hamlet, Troilus & Cressida, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, Julius Caesar, Henry V
    Sophocles (http://classics.mit.edu/Browse/browse-Sophocles.html) Oedipus the King

    Short story:
    Poe (http://eserver.org/books/poe/) Murders in the Rue Morgue

    Shakespeare (http://www.bartleby.com/70/index1.html) Sonnets
    Wordsworth (http://www.bartleby.com/145/)

    Visit the homepages of the sites above for other ideas, or google "online literature" (don't include the quotes). Beware of "Twain classics": something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

    Happy reading,
  7. Nov 27, 2004 #6


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    It's my experience that you are either an avid reador, or you're not...it's hard to "become" one.

    If you enjoy reading, you'll probably read anything you can get your hands on. And I know a lot of folks who were avid readers at one time, but the internet changed all that.

    As far as recommendations go, what I think are good, you (or someone else) may not. The voracious readers usually find their niche or a style that they enjoy simply by exploring various genres, styles and periods. However, there are some authors/poets that are generally accepted by the public as great writers, and you probably know who they are : Dickens, Twain, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Byron, and so on.

    I would suggest that you actually start with modern literature and work your way back to the classics and before...so you can get used to the changing language along the way. And among the moderns I'd suggest you start with the likes of London, Conan Doyle or Kipling before jumping into Hemingway, Eliot or Joyce.
  8. Nov 27, 2004 #7


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    I'll second this suggestion- I love the story & her style. You can read it in one sitting- preferably alone, at night. :uhh: (http://www.literature.org/authors/shelley-mary/frankenstein/)


    Adding to what Gokul said... it helps to watch a performance of an older story (ex. Shakespeare) before reading it, to get accustomed to the language and style. There are plenty of movies out there if the theatre doesn't appeal to you. For Shakespeare, I think Branagh is the best intro. Many novels have also been adapted for the screen.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2004
  9. Nov 27, 2004 #8
    Shakespeare: Hamlet or Macbeth. For a play that isn't talked about much "The Merchant of Venice" is quite enjoyable. Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" is interesting. "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee - That is excellent. "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck: This book is decent to read and just seems better than it was when your done. Tolkien's LOTR trilogy if you haven't read it. "The Hobbit" is magnificent. The Harry Potter books are fun.

    All those books are easy reads - with the exception of Shakespeare's works which require knowledge of less commonly used words.
  10. Nov 27, 2004 #9


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    Secular Angel, are you male or female? I have a collection of classics that I'll go write down the titles of (easier than trying to remember what I've read :biggrin:), but I don't really think most of them would appeal to men. They are works by some of the early women writers who wrote much better versions of what we could call romance novels nowadays (more emotion, less smut).

    Though, a more gender-neutral classic, nobody can go through life without having read The Great Gatsby. It's much better when you can read it for enjoyment than when your English Lit teacher is pestering you to find the symbolism on every page. I enjoyed Hemingway's works too, but haven't read them since high school, so can't remember much other than that I enjoyed them. And no library is complete without all of the Sherlock Holme's stories.
  11. Nov 27, 2004 #10
    I didn't like The Great Gatsby.
    If you want to read some very good books you can not beat the Harry Potter stories. There's a reason why they caused such a sensation.
    Black Holes and Time Warps by Kip Thorne is a good, not too technical physics book.
    If you want to be a book snob like everyone in the above posts I'd suggest Don Quixote, very funny in a 16th century sort of way.
    Moby Dick is another great one, if you can get through the first couple hundred pages.
    When I was younger I read James Herriot's "All Creatures Great and Small" et al. over and over and over. I'll bet I've read them at least 20 times each.
    I'll agree with the Douglas Adams books for the most part, although I think the hitchhikers series is better than Dirk Gently.
  12. Nov 27, 2004 #11


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    I didn't either the first two times I read it, because both times I had to read it for classes I was taking that required spending forever on a single pages picking it apart and analyzing it. Then I decided one summer to go back and start re-reading those classics I hated when forced to read them, and found I actually enjoy many of them now.

    I haven't gotten around to reading any of those yet. Maybe I should put those books on my Christmas list. Wait, who am I going to give that list to anyway? Darn. Guess not.

    Haven't read Don Quixote, and Moby Dick is still sitting on the bookshelf with a bookmark somewhere in those first 100 pages. It gets better after that? Maybe I'll go back to it.

    Yes, yes, yes! I had forgotten all about Herriot! Love those books! I need to get new copies and add them to the permanent library.

    Albert Camus' The Plague was good too. Dark though.

    I have yet to finish the book (don't know if anyone has), but I attempted War and Peace once upon a time. The part of it I read I really enjoyed, but now it's been so long, it's hard to go back without starting from the beginning again because I can't remember which character is which anymore. Besides, it's not really a portable book for taking on flights, which is when I do a lot of reading, and everyone makes fun of me for reading it. :frown:
  13. Nov 27, 2004 #12
    harry potter books get better and better with each one. Everyone should read them.
    James Herriot is probably responsible for more vets than any other 20 factors. I've never met a vet yet who didn't read the books as a child, and I've asked a lot of vets.
    Another author who is easy to read and enjoyable is...can't remember the name and I've read 15 or so of his books. He wrote Theif of Time and Mort and a bunch more.
  14. Nov 27, 2004 #13
    Oh, I should also mention David Eddings. The Belgariad and the Mallorean (I think those were the names of two series) were great back in my Fantasy period. I read them many many times.
    I can't stand 99% of Dean Koontz's books, but I was stuck in a house where they were the only books available and "Watchers" was pretty good. I want a dog like that.
  15. Nov 27, 2004 #14
    Yeah, they were excellent reads. There are five books in each of the series. Evo's a fan of the books, if I'm not mistaken.
  16. Nov 27, 2004 #15


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    Funny thing is I didn't read James Herriot while still a kid, I read his book after I was in grad school working on my degree in Animal Sciences. It made it even better, because I could truly relate to some of the funny stories!
  17. Nov 27, 2004 #16


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    ?!? Everyone has suggested either literature they personally enjoy or tips on how to find literature Secular Angel might enjoy. How does that make them snobs?!
  18. Nov 27, 2004 #17
    My mom bought Herriots books for me when I was in 7th or 8th grade, but I didn't want to read them. She made me sit down and at least try reading one of them. Once I got started I couldn't stop. She said I kept her and my dad awake at night because I'd be downstairs laughing so loudly. I also bawled my eyes out 85-90 times too though. I read the books so many times I knew exactly what was coming up next and I'd skip the chapters that made me cry.
  19. Nov 27, 2004 #18


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    Careful, we're going to start thinking you're sensitive again. :rofl:

    I just emailed my sister and put the Harry Potter books on my Christmas wish list! That and a Lego set I saw when in the toy store. I don't want practical presents this year, I want FUN ones! :biggrin:
  20. Nov 27, 2004 #19


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    Yep, I sure am! Here are two of my posts from your thread.

    Recon, for Fantasy I suggest Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series. The first is "Eye of the World", it is the best I have read, this is the book that got me hooked on fantasy, you will not be disappointed.

    Raymond E Feist's Riftwar Sagas & Serpent War Sagas are another good set.

    David Eddings - The Belgariad is also good.

    I think you would like Feist & Wurts book "Daughter of the Empire".

    Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman's "The Dragonlance Chronicles" the first book is the "Dragons of Autumn Twilight". I love this series. jimmy p and I love the character Raistlin.

    Recon, have you read "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson?

    Here is a blurb from amazon.com, pretty accurate. I highly recommend it. As a matter of fact, I think I will read it again.


    Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison--a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.

    In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo's CosaNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he's a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that's striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about Infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous...you'll recognize it immediately.

    Snowcrash does get a bit :blushing: racy :blushing: in some parts, so be forewarned.
  21. Nov 27, 2004 #20
    Don't take it personally. I was simply looking at it from the point that Secular Angel is not yet an avid reader. In my opinion Shakespeare is not a good choice for someone who doesn't read a lot. I am also of the opinion, maybe unjustified, that people who read the really old classics look down their noses at "popular" selections. I also have the unjustified opinion that a lot of people who recommend a lot of the high brow writings are showing off how smart they are and probably spend late nights reading Jackie Collins and eating Hagaan Daaz.
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