Sunday, March 25, 2018

Ten literary classics we're supposed to like...but don't

At LitHub Emily Temple asked her colleagues about the literary classics we're supposed to like...but don't.

One title from the survey:
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Like many people, I [Alicia Kroell] tired of the extensive whale anatomy lessons from Moby-Dick. I tried getting into it—have you ever thought about whales like that? have you ever thought about someone else thinking about whales like that?—but it wasn’t enough to sustain my interest. I did love the philosophical, poetic aspects of the book; or I convinced myself I loved those parts enough to “read” the book over several years, packing it and unpacking it as I moved between five different houses. At one point, I resolved to skip over the detail-heavy chapters, focusing on the adventure and relationships aboard the Pequod. I had tried a similar plan with The X-Files a few years prior, skipping “Monster of the Week” episodes with the intent of solely following the conspiracy arc. I didn’t follow through on either plan. Maybe I needed that extra fat (blubber?) as context or cushion. Regardless, I feel like trying to read a book over multiple years is more than a fair try. And I’ve long since ditched my copy of Moby-Dick.
Read about another book on the list.

Moby-Dick appears among Sara Flannery Murphy ten top stories of obsession, Harold Bloom's six favorite books that helped shape "the American Sublime,"  Charlotte Seager's five well-known literary monomaniacs who take things too far, Ann Leary's top ten books set in New England, Martin Seay's ten best long books, Ian McGuire's ten best adventure novels, Jeff Somers's five top books that will expand your vocabulary and entertain, Four books that changed Mary Norris, Tim Dee's ten best nature books, the Telegraph's fifteen best North American novels of all time, Nicole Hill's top ten best names in literature to give your dog, Horatio Clare's five favorite maritime novels, the Telegraph's ten great meals in literature, Brenda Wineapple's six favorite books, Scott Greenstone's top seven allegorical novels, Paul Wilson's top ten books about disability, Lynn Shepherd's ten top fictional drownings, Peter Murphy's top ten literary preachers, Penn Jillette's six favorite books, Peter F. Stevens's top ten nautical books, Katharine Quarmby's top ten disability stories, Jonathan Evison's six favorite books, Bella Bathurst's top 10 books on the sea, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best nightmares in literature and ten of the best tattoos in literature, Susan Cheever's five best books about obsession, Christopher Buckley's best books, Jane Yolen's five most important books, Chris Dodd's best books, Augusten Burroughs' five most important books, Norman Mailer's top ten works of literature, David Wroblewski's five most important books, Russell Banks' five most important books, and Philip Hoare's top ten books about whales.

--Marshal Zeringue