Classic Books That Aren't Boring

7:00 AM




I could also title this post "Classic books that I'm in love with because they're exciting and bloody and tell morbid stories about human society", but that wouldn't be nearly as catchy.

I've heard lots of people complain that classics are dry and boring. Admittedly there's more tolerance here in the bookish corners of the internet, because we're all in love with reading anything, so I guess this is more toward the people who aren't a huge fan/read some big classic novel and were scarred for life by the boringness.


Full disclosure here: I've read Les Miserables. All of it. Twice. I'm not going to throw that brick-sized book at you and tell you that there aren't times when Victor Hugo rambles on and on and on and on or writes three chapters (read: a hundred words) about the Paris sewers or spends an entire beginning section talking about characters and histories with absolutely no relevance to the story. I'd be lying if I didn't say that parts of Les Mis, as well as parts of other classic books, didn't absolutely bore me out of my mind. It happens. 

There are, however, some classics that aren't quite like that. Classics that keep up the constant action. Because I will take any and every opportunity to talk about classic books, I'm going to list some of my favorites for you.


1. Watership Down


This is a rather large, rather intelligent, rather serious adult book about the journey of a group of sentient rabbits, and the rabbit societies they wander in and out of on their various peril-fraught adventures. 

I love it to pieces. 

Not only is this book hilarious -- the rabbits all have personalities that are as unique and well-developed as any classic character, and the wit is absolutely on-point -- but it's also smart and well-written, too. I love the way it talks about the scenery and setting from purely the rabbits' points of view and how they see the world, leaving you to interpret what all of this would look like from a human perspective. The writing is light and concise, it's very witty, it has something important to say under all those bunny shenanigans, and it's completely entertaining. It's long but not hard to get through. 

2. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court 


I honestly don't know how to explain this book to you other than to suggest that you go and read it because the title says it all. (Also it's Mark Twain and he's basically my favorite.) The language can be hard to get through, but trust me, it's one of the funniest books I've ever read. Also the cleverest. 

3. Lord of the Flies


It's entirely possible that this is just me, but I've read this book twice and I have incredible amounts of respect and love for it. The writing and the descriptions are all breathtaking. It's twisted, disturbing, and made me feel a little ill at times once I got what was going on. Basically, there's nothing more interesting than putting a bunch of stuck-up British schoolboys on an island together and watching things fall apart. 

4. Anything Sherlock Holmes 


'Nuff said. 

5. The Island Of Doctor Moreau/anything by H.G. Wells 


Short, and also absolutely terrifying. H.G. Wells is a horror/sci-fi genius and his writing makes me shiver. 


Basically, there's a lot of classics out there that aren't dry, long, and boring. You just have to look for them. And pick them up. And carry them home. And let them destroy your feels. 

What classic book would you force everyone to read if you could? What would you add to this list? 

28 comments

  1. I'm afraid the only one I've read of these is Lord of the Flies, and I did hate that one for me to want to read it again. I can get that it's artfully written and that the point is that we're all brutal and primitive on the inside because of course, it's just that the way it was written REALLY BOTHERED ME. It wasn't fun, both times I read it it kind of felt like a waste. And I didn't like that. I would say that personally, I like the Handmaid's Tale and Catch-22 of classics (and Jane Eyre if those aren't old enough or something), because they were both enjoyable but terrifying and made a lot of statements about history and human nature and the way we are built and oohhh, they were beautiful.

    I will say that I have been meaning to read Sherlock Holmes, but our copies of the books are not available at the moment so instead Arthur Conan Doyle just sits and weeps on my growing TBR list with the best of them.

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    1. Jane Eyre is amazing...I keep meaning to read it again because I enjoyed the angst very much, but time is an issue and there are many other classic books I'd like to consume. And while we definitely don't agree on Lord of the Flies, that's fair. :)

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  2. I hated classics when I was little because I thought they were too boring, and I just haven't gotten around to reading them again. Buuut the books you listed sounded pretty awesome, so maybe I'll check 'em out.

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    1. You should! I totally get that -- even I find myself thinking "Oh, that looks boring" a lot of the time so. Some of them are, and some of them are just a good find. It's always fascinating for me to talk classics with people and see who could connect with what.

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  3. Jane Eyreeeeee. I read it for freshman year and some of it was hard to understand but it was soooo sadddd and depressinggggg and goooddddd and the version I read had creepy picturessss that was fun. Also Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom those give me feelings.
    And would The Giver count as a classic because I love that book so checking much.

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    1. Jane Eyre is the feelsiest and have you read Wuthering Heights? because it has a similar feel and I love itttt.

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    2. Ooh no I haven'ttttt but I might after I finish Pride and Prejudice and read North and South and Little Women. *sighs at her giant classics TBR*

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    3. Ooh no I haven'ttttt but I might after I finish Pride and Prejudice and read North and South and Little Women. *sighs at her giant classics TBR*

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  4. Watership Down is so great. I haven't read any of those others you listed, but I'll probably have to get to them at some point. Admittedly, the only other classics I can recall reading are To Kill A Mockingbird (which bored me to tears) and Pride and Prejudice. Which I also found boring. Classics are hard to get through, which is why I haven't read many of them. The H.G. Wells one sounds good though, I must take a look at that one.

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    1. THANK YOU regarding To Kill A Mockingbird. I couldn't get through it the first time and I'm just as bored reading it the second time for school so it's nice to know I'm not alone. xD

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  5. I used to hate classic literature, but school has taught me to love and appreciate it. I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time last fall and I was pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable it was.

    I read Lord of the Flies in high school and remember enjoying it. It's definitely one of those allegorical stories that's got so much meaning to it!

    Interesting post!

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  6. Yes, Watership Down is utterly amazing!!! I would add The Handmaid's Take, Of Mice and Men (one of my favourite classics ever), The Hobbit and Frankenstein. I've been meaning to get around to Lord of the Flies because I've heard it's good, and I'm in the middle of Rebecca now and it's fabulous.

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    1. All of those are on my list! Especially Frankenstein, although I think we'll be studying that in my English class this year.

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  7. LORD.OF.THE.FLIES!

    I LOVE that book! its not boring at ALL! I love classic literature and I try to get into it as much as I can. I try not to call them boring just because they were in a different generation than me. but yeah. I need to read some Sherlock Holmes. Those look great. (and Im obsessed with the show. Sherlock. Obviously.)

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    1. Yessss it's so great. (*high fives for Sherlock*)

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  8. I've been meaning to get around to "Watership Down", but haven't yet. Same with "Lord of the Flies".

    I can't say I'm much of a classics reader, but I do like Tolkien (though he hardly qualifies as short), "Frankenstein", and pretty much anything by Jules Verne (Not sure he counts as classics, but...*shrugs*). I actually enjoyed "To Kill a Mockingbird", but I know a lot of people didn't like it.

    Thanks for the great post! I might have to try some of these out once I get a little time.

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    1. Tolkien is great! Hard for me to get through sometimes since I'm not crazy about fantasy, but great.

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  9. Of these, I've only read a bunch of Sherlock Holmes short stories, but those are definitely not dry and boring! I have to admit that the most boring classic I've ever read was probably Moby Dick. I'm not saying that there wasn't redeeming value in it...somewhere...but it is just so different from anything resembling a modern-day novel (in terms of how the plot is structured) that I barely got through it. I mean, every single one of the whale's body parts gets an entire chapter of description devoted to it. Every. Single. Part. If you're researching 18th century whaling, it's interesting. Otherwise...

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    1. Yikes...I haven't read Moby Dick yet and that's probably a good reason not to. xD

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  10. WATERSHIP DOWN!!!! Gah, I LOVE that book. The rest of these I haven't read, but I keep meaning to give Sherlock Holmes a go.

    I'm actually not quite sure what denotes "classic", but some older books that are slightly well-known and definitely NOT boring are "Ice Station Zebra", "The Thirty-Nine Steps" (and it's sequels), and "The Man Who Was Thursday". Which, now I come to think of it, are all spy thrillers. So no. Not boring. And everyone should read them.

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    1. Watership Down is adorable! And I'll put those stories on my list. *nod*

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  11. Al these books, ALL OF THEM. *hugs books* And you just became my favorite person ever for listing Watership Down. Like, in all seriousness.

    I get what you mean about Victor Hugo. I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame and there were a few times where I was so bored I wanted to stab myself in the eye with a spork. Like, he takes fifty pages just to describe Parisian architecture. But I don't regret reading that book, either, and even though his writing style wasn't my favorite, I really liked the story.

    I think some other books I would push on people would be Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, Dracula, Crime and Punishment (because axe murderer, 'nuff said), and Tarzan. But there are so many, I could probably think of dozens more recommendations, like The Phantom of the Opera and The Scarlet Pimpernel. I will stop now. *restrains self*

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    1. FAHRENHEIT 451. I would push that on people also. *flails*

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  12. I've read Lord of the Flies & lots of Sherlock Holmes. I've read other things by H.G.Wells — namely War of the Worlds — but not The Island of Doctor Moreau. Others I'd add are The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Great Gatsby...I could go on and on, but these suffice!

    Ciera @ The Write Things

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  13. I'm a huge fan of the Russian masters, so Crime and Punishment and Brothers Karamazov are insta-recommends for me. I'd also class C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces as a classic. Austen is great, Pride and Prejudice is phenomenal writing. I think the single most neglected classic, though, would have to be Dante's trilogy: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

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  14. I love classics so much! They can definitely be slow to get through, but they are so worth it. I love Watership Down. I found an old copy at my grandma's house, but it's really old so when I was reading it it fell apart and I might have shed a few actual real life tears. *cough* Don'tworryitwasprobablyjuststressaboutotherthingsbutalsobooksihatetoseethemdestroyed *cough* BUT. It was an amazing book. Usually I'm not a huge fan of animal books, but this one was so deep and adventurous and actually really quite suspenseful, which is not something I usually come to expect from classics.

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  15. Lord of the Flies is AMAZING! And so is H.G. Wells!! I've only read War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Time Machine, but I've already decided he's one of my favorite authors. The Island of Doctor Moreau is actually NEXT on my bookshelf to read!! :D I'm so excited!

    Watership Down sounds fantastic. I've never heard of it before, but I think I need to add this to my list...

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