5 Classic Books I’m Afraid to Read

Classic Remarks


Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.


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You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)


What is a classic book you are afraid to pick up? Why?

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Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

My understanding is that nothing happens in this work. Why waste time reading it, then?

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The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Apparently this is a stream-of-consciousness novel. I do not really appreciate or “get” stream-of-consciousness writing, so I have passed on this one for now.

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Ulysses by James Joyce

This modernist novel is known for being obscurely written and somewhat difficult to read. I admit I have no idea what this book is about or even why it is supposed to be impossible to understand. But its reputation has stopped me from ever caring to find out.

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Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

I know people who absolutely love this book, and who swear it does not deserve the reputation it has. Still, however, I look at it and I think, “That’s an awfully long book just about a whale.” I am not particularly interested in whales, so I have never picked it up.

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The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

Normally, I love works written during the 16th century, but Spenser decided to write this epic poem in a completely made-up “medieval language” which is, frankly, really annoying to read. I have read parts of The Faerie Queene, but really do not want to struggle through the whole thing.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

33 thoughts on “5 Classic Books I’m Afraid to Read

  1. ashley says:

    I haven’t read any of them, but Moby Dick one of the classics that I’m afraid to pick up because of how big it is. Although, I shouldn’t be intimidated by the size because I have no problem reading Lord of the Rings.


  2. Noelle says:

    I had to read Moby Dick in high school. The length wasn’t a problem for me – I just couldn’t get into the story itself, for reasons other people have mentioned, haha. I’m almost tempted to reread it though to see how I would feel about it now. 🙂


  3. Alyson Woodhouse says:

    Your impression of Waiting for Godot is spot on, nothing happens, I remember seeing it and being bored stiff. Don’t take my word for it though. I can’t see you getting on very well with Ulysses either if you’re not a fan of Stream of Consciousness, a very acquired taste.


  4. Peter Martuneac says:

    I loved Moby Dick. A lot of people hate it because the author continually stops the plot to open a new chapter that talks about different aspects of 19th century whaling practices. Most people hate those interruptions but I’m the kind of guy who would stop reading to learn more about whaling on my phone anyway, so I love it haha.


  5. bibliomavens says:

    I had to read parts of Fairie Queene in University and I don’t particularly remember much of what happened in it other than struggling through the verse. I’m also scared of ever reading Moby Dick. Both the length and the content don’t really interest me. – Amber

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, I don’t know what Spenser was thinking. “Ah yes, let me confuse everyone with my made-up words! That will make them feel totally transported to the past!” Me: Nope.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. christine @ ladygetslit says:


    I can attest that Waiting For Godot felt like a huge waste of my time. I haven’t read The Sound and the Fury, but I love Light in August somehow. In thinking about this prompt, there are so many classic works I’m avoiding, and I have a lot of complicated, guilty feelings about it. Bottom line though, I think it’s ok to not like the books we’re supposed to like 🤷‍♀️


    • Krysta says:

      The thing about classic books is that there are all kinds–different genres, different writing styles, different time periods. And, you’re right! We’re probably not going to like them all! And that’s okay!


  7. hillary says:

    let me just start out by saying that attended a state Deaf School. Way back it was still what I like to call Dark Times in Deaf Ed. IDEA passed and I found myself in the Collage track Program. Guess what our first book was?? That is right Moby Dick and like you I was like all it is a man holding on to a whale for??? In class we all to the teacher that it was a man chasing a whale and he won. The teacher went of to describing symbolism and it blew my mind. That was the day I became a book nerd.


  8. Linda I PagesandPapers says:

    I had to read The Sound and the Fury for class some years ago and it just stressed me out. I literally can’t remember what it was about (not that I knew at the time anyway). I’m not a fan of stream-of-consciousness and this one took it to extremes. Hence why I’ll also never ever pick up Ulysses.


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