No Need to Read? 40 disappointing Literary Classics.

Coming up: A list of noteworthy, accomplished and exciting authors

…and the books that didn’t quite work.

Not all of these classics are total failures or trainwrecks – but with all of them, the author either has much better alternative books (I’ll work out a list with recommendations next month)… or the book just wasn’t a very profound or joyful reading experience.

If I could travel back in time and prevent my younger self from wasting time with certain “classic” books… these would be my candidates:


Chingis (Tschingis) AITMATOV: ‘Jamilia’ (Dschamilja), 1958

Martin AMIS: ‘Time’s Arrow’, 1991

Jane AUSTEN: ‘Pride and Prejudice’, 1813

Simone de BEAUVOIR: ‘All Men are mortal’, 1946

Thomas BERNHARD: ‘The Loser’ (Der Untergeher), 1983

Georg BÜCHNER: ‘Leonce & Lena’, 1838

Mikhail BULGAKOV: ‘Master and Marguerite’, 1942

Albert CAMUS: ‘A Happy Death’, 1971

Lewis CARROLL: ‘Through the Looking Glass’ / ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, 1871 / 1865

Bruce CHATWIN: ‘Songlines’, 1987

Paulo COELHO: ‘Veronika decides to die’, 1998

J.M. COETZEE: ‘Disgrace’, 1999

Don DeLILLO: ‘Falling Man’, 2007

Junot DIAZ: ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’, 2007

Ford Madox FORD: ‘The Good Soldier’, 1914

Richard FORD: ‘The Sportswriter’, 1986

E.M. FORSTER: ‘Howard’s End’, 1910

Nathaniel HAWTHORNE: ‘The Scarlet Letter’, 1850

Gerhard HAUPTMANN: ‘Lineman Thiel’, 1888

Ernest HEMINGWAY: ‘To Have and Have not’, 1937

S.E. HINTON: ‘The Outsiders’, 1967

James JOYCE: ‘Portrait of the Artist as a young Man’, 1916

Uwe JOHNSON: ‘Speculations about Jakob’, 1959

Heinrich von KLEIST: ‘The Marquise of O’, 1808

Guiseppe Tomasi di LAMPEDUSA: ‘Il Gattopardo’, 1958

Margaret LAURENCE: ‘The Diviners’, 1974

Klaus MANN: ‘Pathetic Symphony’, 1935

Gabriel Garcia MARQUEZ, ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’, 1985

W. Somerset MAUGHAM: ‘Of Human Bondage’, 1915

Ian McEWAN: ‘Enduring Love’, 1991

Haruki MURAKAMI: ‘Afterdark’, 2004

Vladimir NABOKOV: ‘Transparent Things’, 1972

Juan Carlos ONETTI: ‘A Brief Life’, 1950

Annie PROULX: ‘The Shipping News’, 1993

Jean-Paul SARTRE: ‘The Words’, 1964

Andrezej SZCZYPIORSKI: ‘The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenmann’, 1972

Ingo SCHULZE: ‘Simple Storys’, 1998

Birgit VANDERBEKE: ‘Das Muschelessen’, 1990

Thornton WILDER: ‘Theophilus North’, 1973

Virginia WOOLF: ‘Orlando’, 1928


What books did you regret? What classics are overrated? Let me know in the comments!


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