Authors yet to be sampled

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Authors yet to be sampled

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Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 8:54am

Anyone inclined to confess notable authors they've not yet read? I've mentioned a couple, but can mention more, and the works I'm most likely to try when I get to them. I'm open to advice on these choices (although some are already waiting at home so, I'm kind of committed).

Nabokov, Lolita
Collins, The Moonstone
Stendhal, The Red and the Black
Balzac, Old Goriot
Fielding, Tom Jones
Proust, In Search of Lost Time
Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Gaskell, North and South
Wharton, ?
Zola, ?

Modern Fiction
Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Greene, The Power and the Glory
Du Maurier, Rebecca
Pynchon, ?

Gibson, Neuromancer
Bester, The Demolished Man
Brunner, The Sheep Look Up
Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora
Aldiss, Hothouse
Mieville, ?
Abraham, ?

Probably several more I'm not remembering but will get excited about when I see in a library book sale.

I've only recently (last five years) finally read works by Gustave Flaubert, George Eliot, James Joyce, Hemmingway, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, E. M. Forster, Henry James, Franz Kafka and a number of others, some of which have become favourites, so my list has definitely become shorter. I'm finding myself increasingly reading shallowly any particular authors and more broadly across ones I haven't tried yet.

oct. 6, 2015, 10:02am

All your classics are on my list as well, aside, of course, of Nabokov. A handful are already on my shelves too.

I've read & enjoyed several of Greene, including your selection, though that one was quite some years ago and I have no strong recollection of it, aside of admiring the writing (I was 18 and it was one of the first serious lit. books I read, especially out of school). I dislike Murakami. Du Maurier & Pynchon are on my list as well, as is Neuromancer.

I'm not sure I could really come up with a list myself, there's too many!! Many are sitting on my shelves waiting their turn, and many more are still out there in the wild, haha. I suppose off the top of my head I would add to your nicely started list the Brontës (only read Jane Eyre so far, two sisters and several titles to go! XP) and Jane Austen (only read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, which did make me realize I might actually enjoy her work whereas I'd been thinking it would be a slog), Tolstoy, Goethe, Gorky, Pushkin, Chekhov, Kafka, Nietzsche, Hugo, James Malcolm Rymer and GWM Reynolds (classic horror)... I'm not even going to delve into the other groups! XD

oct. 6, 2015, 10:12am

Greene is an author I'd heard nothing about - absolutely zero - only to recently discover how much he wrote and how generally well known he is. Weird how some names can slip past you for decades like that.

I've only read Jane Eyre from among the Brontes too! I'm starting to think Villette warrants a reading, and I have a copy of Wuthering Heights somewhere. Then I'd have to give Anne a shot so she doesn't feel left out.

I can vouch for Austen, Tolstoy, Goethe, Chekhov, Kafka and Hugo, which makes me feel pretty good about myself. Although I'm not really happy confessing I've not even heard of the others except Nietzsche, lol.

Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 10:28am

There's a flip side to this: old farts like me want every read to count. If I hadn't read Dostoevsky by now I probably would never do it. As it is I will probably both re-read Brothers Karamazov and finally read the Devils and finish the Idiot (halfway through twice, loving it, some disturbance). But I've read too many absolutely amazing books that rarely appear on such lists--Fado Alexandrino by Antonio Lobo Antunes, for instance; I don't know what it's really called by Dobrica Čosič ('the Serbian War and Peace', which I read in a four volume translation and which is better than War and Peace...Luckily, though, I was convinced a few years ago to read Middlemarch, which everyone reading English should spend a good amount of time with.

oct. 6, 2015, 10:31am

Ya got me!

Classics -- I'm good except for Stendahl ("Red Black" TBR) and Zola.

Contemps -- Half yes, half no. Been reading others, primarily international writers like Zafon, Mai Jia, Kenzaburo Oe, Richard Flanagan, A L Kennedy, Verhulst, and Laurain.

Genre -- I'm dead meat. Who are these people?

oct. 6, 2015, 10:47am

>5 Limelite:, you got me right back, I only know Carlos Zafon, lol. There's no end to literary worlds undiscovered, and only one lifetime to sample them all alas.

oct. 6, 2015, 11:13am

>3 Cecrow: I learned of him early because near the end of high school we got these silly "maps" of our "road" or some such for the future. But one thing it had that I kept was a list of ...10? 15? books "everyone should read before college." The Power and the Glory being one of them.

oct. 6, 2015, 12:22pm

>1 Cecrow: Cecrow: Please allow me to suggest for Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country. Some Henry James could be fun, also.

Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 1:46pm

My Classic list includes

Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility
Charles Dickens - David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations
Emily Brontë - Wuthering Heights
Charlotte Brontë - Jane Eyre
Alexandre Dumas - The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise de la Valliere, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Count of Monte Christo
Owen Wister - The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains
Lew Wallace - Ben Hur

Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 2:19pm

>8 geneg:, I'll keep that one in mind. I was leaning towards House of Mirth, if you've an opinion to share on that one. I've read several of Henry James short works and thinking I'll try The Portrait of a Lady next.

>9 seitherin:, Pride and Prejudice was much less painful than I anticipated, and Emma more sympathetic. Oliver Twist is filled with coincidence and the movie musical will not prepare you well for Fagan as Dickens portrayed him. If Jane Eyre was the typical romance novel, I'd read a lot more of that. The Count of Monte Cristo reads just fine in an abridged form, something I'm not above resorting to now and then.

oct. 6, 2015, 4:05pm

> 10 Cecrow: House of Mirth is another of her best works. It's like her version of Fight Club, I suppose. It's the one everyone has heard of and is always on the recommendations list (stay away from Ethan Frome). I think The Custom of the Country is more relevant today, and gives itself a broader scope of characters through which to express its sympathies.

My copy is part of an LOA offering so I'm not sure how easy it is to come by.

Someone, somewhere mentioned Middlemarch. Wow! Just wow!

oct. 6, 2015, 5:16pm

>11 geneg:
Ah, Gene. Long time no crossing of paths!

In total agreement about Wharton. The Custom of the Country is the go-to book in our day and age, while it's hard to believe that a sucky book like Ethan Frome was written by the same person.

>4 RickHarsch:

Intriguing names here--I need to do some homework, don't know many of these people. As for Dostoevsky, I found The Idiot dutiful reading at best, for a once-through, whereas The Brothers I return to again and again, like putting on a much-loved vinyl record. (But I skip a few of the tracks, like the windy trial scenes for Dmitri, in favor of Fyoder's antics and the later conversations with the devil and other wonderful goodies.)

oct. 6, 2015, 5:40pm

I'm not at all surprised about Čosič--he had a short print run in the US I'm pretty sure. But Antunes has several books translated and published by Grove Press, and an early one was recently re-translated. It was called South of Nowhere, a terrific tavern confession novel. Anyway, on the rare occasion when I get to go to a bookstore with a lot of English language literature, something by him is usually in stock. I discovered him, though, in a used book store in Iowa City. I read the first page of Fado Alexandrino and knew immediately he was for me. But for some reason I read An Explanation of the Birds first, loved it and moved on to Fado.
While were's in the region (with Čosič), a great Slovene novel is Minuet for Guitar (in 25 shots) by Vitomil Zupan, published by Dalkey Archive.

Editat: oct. 7, 2015, 6:26pm

I have a Master's Degree in English literature, so the guilt I feel about not having read some of the great classics is huge, as I often feel like I should only be reading great literature. Over the past year I've been trying to let that go, and to concentrate instead on reading what brings me pleasure, instead of what I feel I should be reading.

However, there's some works that I feel I must get around to at some point before I pop off. Things I admit I haven't read:

Dante. Not a word, nor Edmund Spenser's The Fairie Queen, nor Boccaccio, nor Cervantes. (Maybe I won't read books by people with one name?!)

I haven't read Tolstoy, or Stendhal, or James Fenimore Cooper. I've never managed to get through anything by Nabokov.

I'm slowly making my way through a list of modern classics (self-made list), but generally I'm reading crime fiction or overdosing on Netflix!

oct. 8, 2015, 7:48am

>14 ahef1963:, I think it would be fantastic to have that level of background and pick up a classic you've never read before. I'd imagine you'd perceive all kinds of things about it without having to do the degree of research I always need to.

In this limited lifetime I've tried to push Dante onto the pile of authors I accept I'll never visit, but he keeps trying to get back in. Cooper is more firmly over there. Boccaccio and Stendhal I'll get to, and Cervantes is done (Don Quixote has many fantastic parts). Nabokov soon.

The trouble with Tolstoy is that his best titles are all really, really big. But they're good.

I go back and forth between classics versus fantasy/science fiction, so I know what you mean.

oct. 8, 2015, 7:55am

Yes, two works I feel that I should already have read are Don Quixote and The Pilgrim's Progress. I really don't know why I keep putting them off. Perhaps I expect them to cost me something.

oct. 8, 2015, 10:05am

Quixote should be read by every living soul.

oct. 8, 2015, 11:53am

Tried Quixote but couldn't get through it.

oct. 8, 2015, 11:59am

Handily, my Quixote was in reach. So you couldn't get through 982 pages of fairly small print. That fact alone means you still may be included in the Quixote fan club.

My son and I were reading The Good Soldier Svejk together, he in Slovene, me in English, but I had a lot of interference and he got way ahead--his version was two volumes--and lost interest when he found he had won the race. But he loved it. He quit, I think (he just turned 12 so I gave it a shot because the prose is not terribly hard and there are classic drawings included), because it's a picaresque, the plot is unimportant. The same is true enough of Quixote.

oct. 8, 2015, 1:41pm

I can't remember how far I got. A few hundred pages, but found it such a torture of imagery and metaphor that I let it go. The attempted, but did not summit club should have a place for me.

oct. 8, 2015, 1:51pm

So you quit after getting all the way to base camp.

oct. 8, 2015, 2:39pm

Pretty much. No regrets. Life is too short.

oct. 8, 2015, 3:15pm

That said, of the OP's list I've read -
Collins - the famous ones plus two or three more
Woolf - Once. Once was enough.
Zola - read one, might go back for more time and mood permitting

Murakami - Once. and like Woolf, that will do.
du Maurier - she's a favorite although I just had to DNF one of hers
Greene - have read several of his 'entertainments'

Gibson - read one way back in the 80s, never went back

The rest well, if I don't read them it won't keep me up at night. Will try to think of my own 'want to sample' list. I'm sure it's long. Off the top of my head Rushdie comes to mind.

Editat: oct. 11, 2015, 1:13pm

Whew. The ones that are bothering me most right now are probably:

- Charlotte Brontë
- Homer
- Dostoevsky (read about half of Crime and Punishment about 10 - 15 years ago; put it down and never picked it back up again; can't remember why (I recall I was enjoying it at the time)).
- Tolstoy
- Camus (attempted the first 20-30 pages of The Myth of Sisyphus when I was in my early twenties - couldn't make heads or tails of it (I would probably do okay with it now (I've learned a little bit since then), but these days I'm more inclined to attempt The Stranger)).

As far as genre people are concerned, it's probably something like:

- Connie Willis
- Walter M. Miller, Jr.
- Dan Simmons
- John Wyndham
- Raymond Chandler (who I plan on getting to next year)

I'm not too concerned about lit-fic/mainstream people born after World War I; I've probably already read most of the ones I'd find really engrossing anyway. I'd like to read more of Gabriel García Márquez; he's about the only one I can think right now. As far as the rest are concerned, I'll get to 'em when I get to 'em.

ETA: forgot the second close parenthesis after The Stranger

oct. 9, 2015, 3:48am

My current list of classic authors who I haven't read but think I should are:
George Sand
George Eliot
Anthony Trollope
Don Quixote
Hardy Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Victor Hugo
Henry James actually not sure if Inread him or not.
Kate Chopin

In between
Rebecca West

Orhan Pemuk. Started some but never finished

Editat: oct. 9, 2015, 7:53am

>24 artturnerjr:, Crime and Punishment is a 2016 title for me, as it happens. No Chandler, but I want to eventually.

>25 dianeham:, Henry James strikes me as the kind of author that if you'd read him, you'd know, lol. I'd like to read Byatt's Possession.

oct. 9, 2015, 2:31pm

>26 Cecrow:

I'd suggest Byatt is another one of the if you'd read 'm you'd know. She doesn't know when to stop. IMO, she's the Queen of the Over Writers.

There are a number of authors who I think believe they're being paid by the word.

oct. 9, 2015, 3:10pm

>27 Limelite:, ah, and here I thought that was only a problem in genre fiction. Good to have your opinion.

oct. 23, 2015, 6:51pm

>14 ahef1963: Having a couple of degrees in literature does help when I'm picking up a brand-new (to me) classic, but it does leave me with residual guilt. It is true that having that background means that I rarely need context when I pick up something new, although I can't manage anything that is heavily dependent on a knowledge of history, like The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Glad to read that I'm not the only one who hasn't managed Cervantes.

>25 dianeham: It's just my opinion, but reading Orham Pamuk is impossible. I keep buying books by him hoping that something will strike a chord, but I find him as inpenetrable as molasses in January.

>27 Limelite: Oh, so glad to find someone else who doesn't like A.S. Byatt!! She's my mother's favourite novelist, so I've tried and tried to like her, but I don't. At all. This leads to much lecturing by my mother, who is convinced that I must be doing something wrong if I don't enjoy her books. Sigh.

oct. 23, 2015, 7:52pm

>29 ahef1963:

I've always kept in the forefront of my mind the old saw, "There's no accounting for taste." And that's why no one should be held accountable for it. Enjoy what you enjoy and I'll enjoy what I enjoy.

Sometimes we'll enjoy the same thing together. Or not. . .like in the case of Byatt.

oct. 24, 2015, 3:06am

>29 ahef1963: I've only read one of Byatt's and it was the one from that mythology "series" (various authors writing various books dealing with various mythologies of the world). I didn't care for it, for various reasons, but I figured I would give a regular novel a shot first before forming more of an opinion about her.

oct. 26, 2015, 1:10pm

Authors I have given the brush to

Dostoyevsky and many other Russians
Jack London
C. S. Lewis
Bram Stoker
Kurt Vonnegut
H. P. Lovecraft
Joseph Heller
Arthur Miller
Ken Kesey

Just a sample.

The sad truth is I have no intention of ever sampling them. The mid-century guy writers' subject matter and "take" on the world doesn't interest me. Various Russians write very Russian tales -- usually circulating around their personal conflicts with Russian Orthodoxy projected onto their characters, which makes me yawn. And tales of the supernatural hold no attraction because, no matter how symbolic of reality, they aren't and I'm unable to muster empathy. I'm just a narrow-minded old fart, and likely to remain so.

oct. 26, 2015, 2:00pm

Lewis, Lovecraft, Stoker... Meh

But "God Bless You Mr. Rosewater" Vonnegut, and "One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest" Kesey... WOW!

oct. 26, 2015, 2:03pm

When I try to think of any authors I've ever said "never again!" about after reading, Thomas Hardy and D. H. Lawrence spring to mind. But works by both of them are back on my TBR pile, so ... "never say never again", the saying goes.

Editat: oct. 26, 2015, 2:52pm

I would even go so far as to say that Lewis might be mostly forgotten if it weren't for the Christian readers world wide propping him up.

oct. 26, 2015, 3:06pm

>35 inkdrinker:, and the Narnia fans like myself. Still have a soft spot for those, allegory notwithstanding. Similarly I feel A Grief Observed has some merit too, for just about anyone in those shoes.

Editat: oct. 26, 2015, 3:27pm

I liked the Narnia books when I was a kid... LIKED not loved, I reread them all as an adult and found them painful at best. I had them in hardback... I sold them all about two years ago after I tried rereading them and realized how little they spoke to me.

oct. 26, 2015, 3:26pm

I read screwtape latters and one of his books on christianity and found them meaningless to me... I understood them, but they didn't reach me... I found them pretty heavy handed...

Don't even get me started on his space trilogy.... gah.

oct. 26, 2015, 4:14pm

I read Narnia for the first time fairly recently. I enjoyed the fantasy stories, did not enjoy the proselytizing. If he'd simply left that angle out, they would have been excellent. As it is, they were mostly enjoyable.

oct. 27, 2015, 8:26am

When I was a kid I was allowed to read the narnia books because of the Christian message. My parents were (and still are) born again Christians. With me it didn't take and made my eventual love of heavy metal and Stephen King real interesting.

oct. 27, 2015, 9:17am

Just read my first Vonnegut: worth it, and pretty much what I expected. I'll read another probably at random and on a whim.

There are many authors that fit that category for me, someone I've read about and am persuaded I'll like, but not to the point I'll seek out and won't need to read more than one or two. I'll get to them when circumstances converge and it works, not by planning it.

I like having that aspect to my reading life, too much is focused and earnest and set on being "worthwhile", and yet for me at least, the result isn't any better or assured when I schedule it.

It helps that I'm still reading with my kids, since that brings up titles I wouldn't pick for myself.

oct. 27, 2015, 10:34am

It bugs me that I've never read Homer. It doesn't bug me that I've never read Proust and, barring a shift in the space/time continuum, I never will. Deeply introspective books bore me. Ditto anything with a dream sequence. Insta narcoleptic fit.

Editat: oct. 27, 2015, 11:00am

>42 SomeGuyInVirginia:, had the same problem so I just came through The Iliad with Rieu's prose version, which seems generally ill favoured. But I've a tin ear for poetry, so what can you do. The nice part is, it reads like a 400+ page action scene.

Editat: oct. 27, 2015, 11:36am

>1 Cecrow: I'm not sure what you have on your shelf so it's difficult suggesting alternatives. Lolita is a must, I feel, one of the great novels of the twentieth century (creepy though it's subject matter is).

Regarding Virginia Woolf Orlando is probably her most accessible novel and it would be best to start there.

Except for Murakami and Pynchon, your moderns aren't all that modern. With Pynchon it is best to start at the beginning which would be V. Other moderns you might consider are Mitchell (Cloud Atlas), Chabon ( The Yiddish Policemen's Union or Kavalier and Clay), Ishiguro Remains of the Day, John Banville The Sea, JM Coetzee The Life and Times of Michael K - the list is extensive.

Your genre selections are also a bit dated. For the Mieville I would suggest The City and the City or Kraken. By Abraham if you mean Daniel Abraham who is one half of James S. A. Corey then I would suggest Leviathan Wakes. Other, more contemporary genre authors would be Neal Stephenson Cryptonomicon, Iain Banks Consider Phlebas, Atwood The Handmaid's Tale, Le Guin The Dispossessed, Ian McDonald River of Gods, Kim Stanley Robinson 2312 - again the list is extensive.

Brunner's The Sheep Look Up is really a sequel to Stand on Zanzibar which is undoubtably Brunner's masterpiece.

For myself, perhaps the greatest gaps are caused by a great white whale and those damned illusive windmills.

oct. 27, 2015, 11:42am

Cloud Atlas wasn't bad, and I really liked Cryptonomicon.

Didn't know about the connection between the Brunner books ... hmmm.

I heartily endorse the whale and windmills!

oct. 27, 2015, 12:18pm

Harpoon the whale! Lance the windmills!

Not intended as a recommendation one way of the other.

oct. 27, 2015, 2:18pm

>44 justifiedsinner:

A number of the authors or books you mention are relatively recent reads for me. So to add my superfluous 2p's worth:

For me, The Sea was an astounding piece of writing. A heartbreaking and gorgeously lyrical read.

I'm reading Orlando at the moment, and I'm a little underwhelmed by it. My only other Woolf is The Waves, which was worth reading purely for the imagery alone.

V was my first Pynchon, and I flat-out hated it. However, I gave him another try with Mason & Dixon and found it a demanding but rewarding read.

I only sampled Ishiguro recently, but Never Let Me Go was great.

I have so many lacunae in my reading I would scarcely know where to begin. But Dickens, Hardy, Zola, Hugo, Fitzgerald (except Diamond as Big as the Ritz), Tolstoy all weigh heavily on my reader's conscience.

I have an unreasonable prejudice against authors that I consider to be flavour of the month, and refuse to read them out of sheer curmudgeonliness.

oct. 27, 2015, 2:39pm

If The Sea won the Booker, and so did Iris Murdoch, then The Sea, The Sea must be twice as good. Simple math.

oct. 27, 2015, 2:55pm

>48 Cecrow: To my way of thinking, the converse is true. If Banville won the Booker with half as many Seas as Murdoch, each of his Seas must have been twice as good.

Your post made me realise that when Queen had a hit with the Seven Seas of Rye, each individual Sea must have been of quite poor quality.

oct. 27, 2015, 3:04pm

>47 Cliff-Rhu-Rhubarb:

If you suffer from "many lacunae in my reading," it's because you haven't read the one essential book on the topic. I speak of Barbara Kingsolver's novel, The Lacuna. I call her the American A. S. Byatt, for reasons of wordiness.

oct. 28, 2015, 10:09am

>45 Cecrow: With Mitchell I'm also reading from the beginning since his work is supposed to contain easter eggs from the prior books . So I started with ghostwritten which was intriguing, then Number9Dream which is my favorite to date and finally Cloud Atlas. I have Black Swan Green on my TBR and have heard good things about The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet.

>47 Cliff-Rhu-Rhubarb: I'm currently reading The Untouchable and coming to the conclusion that Banville is the best prose stylist out there.

oct. 28, 2015, 10:17am

>49 Cliff-Rhu-Rhubarb:, I can hardly wait to read the future Booker-winning "Sea", or perhaps "The S"! (and will bet heavily when they appear in the shortlist)

>51 justifiedsinner:, what did you conclude about the easter egg rumour?

oct. 28, 2015, 10:25am

It's true but only has a minor impact on which order to read the books in. I'll still keep reading in order I think since it's interesting to see how an author develops.

Editat: oct. 28, 2015, 11:20am

>53 justifiedsinner:, can't say I normally do that, but I've been doing it with Charles Dickens - one novel per year. Started with Pickwick, this year it was Barnaby Rudge, next up is Martin Chuzzlewit in 2016. It makes certain things stand out, like who he tended to reach for as a central character, etc. You can also put yourself in the shoes of a contemporary fan, waiting to see what he comes up with next.

oct. 28, 2015, 11:27am

I love Dickens, but when I think of him, I can't help but think of him as the television of his time. People eagerly awaiting the next episode... the next season... Standing around the 1800's version of the water cooler discussing what this character or that character did...

oct. 28, 2015, 1:02pm

>43 Cecrow: Translations can make a book. Wish I read Latin and Greek, though.

oct. 28, 2015, 9:48pm

>54 Cecrow: What happened to Sketches by Boz ?

oct. 29, 2015, 7:40am

>57 justifiedsinner:, every time I achieve peace with having skipped that, somebody asks again. :(

oct. 31, 2015, 10:48pm

I highly recommend Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, it is my number one winter read... I have read it every winter since the first time I read it in 1993. I also like H: The Story of Heathcliff's Journey Back to Wuthering Heights by Lin Haire-Sargeant, she does a decent job with her version of life on the moors.

I do not however, have any love for Jane Eyre, I find it predictable and tedious.