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Learning Modern Classics from Penguins

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Until three months ago I was unable to finish a book. Now I can’t read them fast enough. I slept through my high school English classes and now I realized I missed out on reading a lot of great books. I have decided, about six years to late, to correct the error of my ways and read the great books. I am now faced with a dilemma that has hounded literary scholars for generations: What makes a book great?

Being a novice in the vast world of literature I have decided to let the penguins tell me what is great. Actually just one penguin, Penguin Group Publishing. Penguin has released a series of books entitled “Great Books of the 20th Century”. This seems like a pretty good place to start. I have decided that I will read the entire series in an attempt to catch up to my more well read brethren.

When some one quotes a passage from Don DeLillo’s White Noise I want to know what they are talking about. The first book I have picked from the series is Jack Kerouac’s famous On The Road. I decided it was time to learn about Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise. Right now I am about half way through and am enjoying it immensely.

Next on the list is White Noise and then Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Then I plan on seriously diving in with Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. This may seem like a lot to take on from the start but I am more than ready.

I have always been a literary poser. It is time to shed that skin and actually know what I am talking about. Look for the reviews of these books and more to come soon. In the mean time please visit me In the Congo. B

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About seldon419

  • Eric Olsen

    Excellent Byron, very ambitious, brave and worthwhile undertaking. Thanks and welcome!

  • duane

    Best of luck, Byron. I admire your ambition. Don’t forget to sneak a few books written prior to the 20th Century onto your list. Off the top, try the following:

    Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky)
    Don Quixote (Cervantes)
    Gulliver’s Travels (Swift)
    The Confessions (Augustine)
    Bleak House (Dickens)
    The Iliad (Homer)
    Emma (Austen)
    The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer)
    Inferno (Dante)

    I understand that “Gravity’s Rainbow” is a bear, but don’t let that stop you, man.

  • Sounds like you’ll be busy in the coming months. I second Duane’s reccommendation of Crime & Punishemt – it’s one of my favorites and it will mess with your head. As for White Noise, it’s not bad, but i found it kind of dull. The writing was very poetic and sparse, which was a nice change of pace from what i usually read, but it got old quickly.

    Good luck!