It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jan loves to read classics. I started off my reading by reading classics. Most of the books in my bookshelf are classics. That being said, there are quite a few of these books that I stopped reading halfway through. Also note that all these are entirely my own thoughts about the books – if you enjoyed them, then that’s great!

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

2013 me: ooh look a new book! *reads first page* *falls asleep*

2016 me: slaves away through the first chapter *snore*

2017 me: reads on to the point here Pip meets Miss Havisham *why am I doing this to myself*

Long story short, this book was so incredibly boring. The only exciting thing that happens is the incident in the graveyard where Pip is threatened by that thief. Then he gets a whole fortune of money, moves in to a big house, falls in love with Estella faster than I can say the title of the book. There was a whole mystery going on about who actually gave Pip the fortune but I wasn’t interested. I tried reading an abridged edition, thinking it would be more palatable but nope, even that was boring.

Will I try reading this again? Given how many years I tried, and failed, to read this book, it’s safe to say I won’t be trying this again.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I SEE YOUR PAINED GLANCES.

The problem was that when I got into this book I already knew the whole story, every bit of it. The writing of the book failed to draw me in, and I had to stop reading because I just couldn’t keep going. I was disappointed because I liked reading Eight Cousins by the same author.

Will I give this a try again? Not right now. But in the future – when I have more time on my hands, and when I’m in a free mood, perhaps I might.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

There’s a limit to the number of goddams I can handle in a sentence and The Catcher in the Rye exceeded it. And no (as I constantly have to remind my younger sister) it’s not ‘edgy’ to whine about the problems of the world all the time. Holden Caulfield got on my nerves too much, and I found the writing style hard to read.

Will I read it again? I’m surprising myself here, but yes. I DNF’ed it a little too early, and I’m glad I did, but I’d also like to give this another try.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Technically I did finish reading this one. But I was so bored most of the time I was just skimming through the text. For one, I hated the main character, Gulliver. There are basically no other significant characters. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this book if about 330 pages long and there’s not one quotation mark, but huge blocks of paragraphs. The first few chapters were at least fun to read. These are a few things that I did learn while reading this:

  • Two Liliputian towns go to war because they disagreed about what side of an egg is more important
  • Gulliver pees on a Lilliputian town to put out a massive fire (eek)
  • Gulliver is shipwrecked to a place where people live in weird houses
  • Gulliver decides humans are bad and spends the rest of his life ignoring his family and talking to horses

I feel bad for this dude’s wife. This is a satirical dystopian so it is entirely possible I missed the point of the story, but I’m not sure if I even want to find that out.

Will I give this another chance? No!

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol

This sounded exactly like the type of weird fantasy story I’d love, except I didn’t. I was very confused and lukewarm about this one. Also, like Little Women, I knew everything that happens in the story beforehand. I generally don’t mind spoilers, especially spoilers in classics, but I can see how it ruins the reader’s experience.

Will I give this another try? Actually, I would. I really want to try reading this again.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Most classics are low key racist but here it was in your face. I bet in those days shipwrecks = saving natives from cannibals and ‘civilizing’ people by teaching them English and making them their slaves (oops I forgot loyal servant) I’m not sure at what point I put this book down. Plus it was also boring and the passages are hard to digest.

Will I read it again? Nope. I’ve got better stuff to read than this.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

There’s a character named The Rat, and there’s a revolution of some kind? That’s all I remember about this book. To be honest I wasn’t in the mood to read this when I did. But the story itself seems whimsical (that boy on the cover is standing on a meteor, right?) and I want to give it a second try.

Will I try this book again? It is highly possible.


Let’s discuss!

Do you read classics? Are there any you didn’t finish reading? Let me know in the comments!

63 thoughts on “Classics I didn’t finish reading and why // a discussion

  1. Hahaha, I loved this post, Jan! And let me tell you a secret – I did the exact same thing regarding Little Women for the exact same reasons 😅 Oops. I fully intend on reading the whole thing eventually, though!

    As to Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe, and The Catcher in the Rye – I’ve read them all in full and don’t think it was all that worth it. Maybe Robinson Crusoe is still interesting because it gives you a glimpse at the early beginnings of the novel as a literary form, but you’re right, it was so racist! Plus, Robinson takes a boat out, gets caught in a current, and then, luckily, the SAME current takes him back the exact way he came? I’m sorry, but that’s not how currents work! I want my survival stories to be realistic! Still, that’s nothing compared to the hatred I have towards Holden Caulfield and his toe-nail-clipping roommate…

    Gulliver’s Travels, though? That book is absolutely hilarious! I love it! 🥰 But then again, I already knew a lot about the time period when I first read it, so I understood what most of the satire was aimed at. It was pure gold political comedy 😊 And the exploration aspect was pretty neat, too.

    And I did enjoy the Little Prince, too, but I’m not as in love with it as everyone else seems to be. To be honest, didn’t think it was all that special 🙈

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks💜 me too, I’d love to reread Little Women but just not right now😆
      Oh I didn’t notice that about Robinson Crusoe, I guess i didn’t read that far in. The only other adventure/survival book I’ve read from that time is Coral Island from RM Ballantyne – it’s got the same issues about racism (why must there be cannibals in every single book? Urgh) but was more enjoyable overall. Lmao ‘toenail clipping roommate’ .
      Haha maybe the hilarious aspect of Gulliver’s travels went right over my head. I didn’t get the satire at all😆😑
      I must try the Little Prince and Alice in Wonderland again😊
      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The first line of your post though 😂. And I don’t know why, I find it really hard to find myself interested in picking up any classics, coz they give me a really *old times* vibe for some reason 😐. I’ve read several classics as abridged versions, but only one unabridged. Amazing post, I want more of these 🤩

    Liked by 2 people

  3. loved your pride and prejudice starting XD You should really read the little prince again; i loved it! I actually like most classics (while most of the people i know see them as ‘school books’) but I couldn’t get into little women either! most people love it, but i’d seen the movie and i knew everything that was going to happen!

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  4. Gulliver’s Travels always seemed exceedingly weird to me (I’ve never read it), and now your description proves that it’s even weirder XD (I think I’ll pass on that one)

    “Bleak House” was one that I quit a few pages in because NOTHING was happening (there’s a slight chance I might try again, but we’ll see), and “Wuthering Heights” I quit with only a chapter left because I couldn’t handle the characters’ drama anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes it is weird😁
      I haven’t read Bleak House or Wuthering Heights yet, I’m planning to read them when I’ve got more time. Wuthering heights seems super gloomy and I don’t like gloomy stories but we’ll see…
      Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had the same exact problem with Little Women: I already knew the whole story and so it was just really hard to slog through it. I did finish, but I didn’t give it a super high rating. I wish I hadn’t known the story beforehand because I think I would have enjoyed it more. I love The Catcher in the Rye though, lol. I’m glad to find someone else who likes reading classics!

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    1. I know, I’d read several abridged versions before I went to the book, and I think I read the wikipedia summary too (I just can’t stop doing that)😀
      Ahh I’ll try the Catcher in the Rye again one day! Ahh yes!

      Like

  6. I love Classics but they are always a little harder to get through I find. I accidentally put down Vanity Fair and didn’t finish it but I’m planning on going back to it at some point. Little Women is one of my all-time favourites 🙂

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  7. I love this post Jan!! I like reading classics when I’m in the right mood for them, but there are definitely some that I can’t deal with. I find anything by Charles Dickens incredibly hard to focus on — I started Great Expectations like five times but never even got to the halfway mark 😭 Little Women is a fave, but I can see why it might not have been for you! I hope you enjoy it if you ever pick it up again 😊

    Great post!! 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Watching the new Little Women adaptation reignited my want to read the original material but I’m fearful that I’ll abandon it too since I already know what happens. I can definitely see myself being like Do I need to read all 800 pages? 😅

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  9. Robinson Crusoe was SO BORING. I had to read it for school and once accidentally skipped fifty pages and didn’t even notice because he was STILL talking about how he made raisins. Boring+Robinson Crusoe just being a terrible human being=something I will never read again.
    I’ve been meaning to read Little Women for YEARS, but I have not yet tried. It really is hard when you know everything about it. But hopefully someday I’ll get to it, if only just to avoid the righteous indignation of fellow bookworms XD

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  10. I love classics, but some of them I have not taken to at all. I, somehow, managed to read Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. I think I have to accept Dickens isn’t for me because I just find the writing so rambling and hard to get into.

    I had to read Gulliver’s Travels and Robinson Crusoe at uni and I just found them so so boring! Could not get into them at all, nothing happened!

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  11. I totally DNFed most of the classics in your lists myself. And it took me an embarrassing lot of attempts to finally finish Little Women. It is guaranteed that I’m not reading it again unless I’m absolutely forced to. I have not been a fan of classics since the very beginning. I’m not sure why though. The few classics I’ve read is either required reading or me being hard on myself.
    You should try reading Alice in the Wonderland AFTER watching the animated adaptation. I did that. It gives much more wiggle room to imagining the scenes than the book ever did.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I feel you on Little Women. I managed to get through book 1 (barely) but it was a struggle and it almost sent me into a reading slump. It was a big disappointment, especially since everyone seems to adore it, but to me it was just soooo boring.

    I’d totally recommend to give The Little Prince a second try. I must admit I read an illustrated pop-up version of it, so the whole experience was quite magical.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, everyone seems to adore little women. I love the story and the characters but I just.couldn’t.get into the book because of Alcott’s writing style. Everyone seems to recommend me the Little Prince, I’ll give it a try!

      Like

  13. I can see why you didn’t like Great Expectations but honestly I wasn’t expecting Little Women. I love that book to the core. To each their own🤷‍♀️

    You know there’s this book which I guess you cannot really call a classic but it’s very famous and I totally trudged through it- Lord of the Rings 😬

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hey Jan, I loved reading this post! I am not a big fan of classics, but since I started reading with popular ones, I actually have read a lot of classics in my lifetime (Oliver Twist, The Little Prince, Alice In Wonderland, Heidi, Gulliver’s travels, to name a few)
    Whoa, you dnf’ed Little Women?! I think that was the one classic I actually enjoyed reading😂
    And hi-five, I dnf’ed Robinson Crusoe too!
    Lovely post💖

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love this! I have definitely struggled to get through many classics, though most of the time I have finished them (I think?) because I have this THING about finishing books (to the point of it becoming a problem) even when I REALLY don’t like them. (Okay, but actually I just remembered that I only got a few chapters into Ben Hur and I had no idea what was going on…so I stopped. Oh, and Around the World in 80 Days. I remember starting that one, and just never getting very far. Those are the only two I can think of at the moment…)
    I really liked Great Expectations (HERBERT POCKET) but I get it if it’s not your thing. I have enjoyed most of the Dickens books I have read, but Dombey and Son was probably my least favorite so far…there were too many scenes about the characters I DID NOT CARE about. My favorite Dickens books are probably David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby.
    It took me FOREVER to get through Little Women, even though I liked the story/characters. I did know the story already, so that’s part of it. It was the same thing with Anne of Green Gables. I felt like I was slogging through. I think it’s partly that the episodic/anecdotal style just isn’t my favorite? I felt like I didn’t have much motivation to pick up the book and read. So I’m glad I read them but I doubt I will have the willpower to get through them again.
    I haven’t read The Catcher in the Rye or Gulliver’s Travels. Neither sound very appealing to me.
    I LOVED Alice in Wonderland when I was like…ten? I think? I haven’t read it since then, but I watched the Disney movie recently and it stressed me out way more than I remember, so I don’t even know if I’d like the book anymore.
    Ugh, I had to read Robinson Crusoe for school. I didn’t enjoy ANYTHING about it. I was bored and irritated the entire time. Never going to read it again.
    I haven’t tried to read The Little Prince but I have vague plans to read it someday.

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    1. Haha I loved Around the World in Eighty Days, even if that book was seriously problematic if you look at things from today’s point of view. I liked Oliver Twist and I’m thinking of reading Charles Dickens’s other books too. I love the characters in Little Women but i just couldnt get ‘into’ the story, although Anne of Green Gables is one of my faces😃 Ahh yes, Robinson Crusoe was really boring!
      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve read Great Expectations, but, even though I love Charles Dickens, it wasn’t my favorite and I never reread it. I also don’t like Gulliver’s Travels or the writing style. Alice in Wonderland I’ve read several times, but I don’t know why because it is rather weird.

    My deep, dark secret is that I don’t really like Jane Eyre. I tried rereading it awhile ago just to check that I indeed don’t like it that much, and I couldn’t even finish it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You don’t like Jane Eyre? That’s one of my favourite books 😅 I’ve only read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, which I loved, so I might read his other books too! And yes, Alice in Wonderland seems very weird.
      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  17. Oh, I just read Catcher In the Rye. It was definitely eh but of all the classics I’ve read (aka: all the classics my school has forced me to read) it wasn’t all that bad. I DEFINITELY agree with Holden saying ‘goddam’ too much. And ‘depressing’ ‘depressed’ or any other variation of that word. The reason I got through it was because the writing style wasn’t as bad as some of the other classics. And Holden actually does get a pretty good character arc (I don’t believe it stops him from saying ‘goddam’ though).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahh yes! Dead white men is so true lol although I’ve noticed I enjoy classics more if they were written by women authors – Charlotte Bronte, LM Montgomery, Jean Webster . and yeah classics are so outdated – some books seem to be blissfully unaware they’re being absolutely racist.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, honestly I don’t read many classics on my free time because school makes us read so many but I’m wondering if I read some by female authors I might enjoy them more. I know, that’s what I really don’t like about classics. Homophobia too can be in them. One of the reasons that I DIDNT like Catcher In the Rye, there were a few very offensive parts.

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