Sim

Building an English language library

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Sim   

As I know many of you are passionate readers, some of you perhaps even studied English literature, I'd like to ask you for recommendations of English language classics, as I feel I should build a small library of English language tales. I'm more interested in prose, rather than plays or poetry.

As a fan of English language genre fiction and pop culture, it's hard not to learn about many classics via references. So there are quite a few I've always wanted to read, which I've bought already. My current collection includes:

"Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel Defoe, "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift, "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley, a collection of stories by Edgar Allan Poe, "David Copperfield", "Oliver Twist" and "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens, "Moby Dick" by Melville, "Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, collected stories by Robert Louis Stevenson, stories and poems by Oscar Wilde, "Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck and "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.

For genre purposes, I also ordered "Animal Farm" and "1984" by George Orwell, some stories by H.G. Wells, the "Foundation" trilogy by Asimov and a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury.

Which classics do you feel are missing on that list? Which do I absolutely have to read, IYO?

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"Great Expectations" is another Dickens classic that I would recommend. 

P.G. Wodehouse's short stories and novels featuring Jeeves and Wooster are great, so I suggest you check those out.

In science fiction, I'd recommend Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers," "Stranger in a Strange Land," and "Time Enough for Love."

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Not a 'classic' yet, but I'd heartily recommend Andy Weir's "The Martian"; it is the definitive science fiction book of this decade, IMHO...

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Sim   

"Great Expectations" is another Dickens classic that I would recommend. 

P.G. Wodehouse's short stories and novels featuring Jeeves and Wooster are great, so I suggest you check those out.

In science fiction, I'd recommend Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers," "Stranger in a Strange Land," and "Time Enough for Love."

Thx for the Dickens recommendation! Got to put that on my list. For some odd reason, I had never heard of Wodehouse. But his Wikipedia bio looks interesting.

Oh, and thanks for the Heinlein recommendations! Got these three novels already. Heinlein is a blast! Also liked "Orphans of the Sky", nice and short. I've got quite a few English language SF works as ebooks already, but felt I shouldn't ignore the less genre-ish classics.

Not a 'classic' yet, but I'd heartily recommend Andy Weir's "The Martian"; it is the definitive science fiction book of this decade, IMHO...

Ok, that is a great praise! Guess I must not miss it!

Oh my, so much to read and so little time ... one lifetime is too short for all the great fiction there is... I end up collecting a lot, but then, it takes me years before I actually read it. Anyway, "The Martian" has to be on my list.

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"Great Expectations" is another Dickens classic that I would recommend. 

P.G. Wodehouse's short stories and novels featuring Jeeves and Wooster are great, so I suggest you check those out.

In science fiction, I'd recommend Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers," "Stranger in a Strange Land," and "Time Enough for Love."

Thx for the Dickens recommendation! Got to put that on my list. For some odd reason, I had never heard of Wodehouse. But his Wikipedia bio looks interesting.

Oh, and thanks for the Heinlein recommendations! Got these three novels already. Heinlein is a blast! Also liked "Orphans of the Sky", nice and short. I've got quite a few English language SF works as ebooks already, but felt I shouldn't ignore the less genre-ish classics.

Not a 'classic' yet, but I'd heartily recommend Andy Weir's "The Martian"; it is the definitive science fiction book of this decade, IMHO...

Ok, that is a great praise! Guess I must not miss it!

Oh my, so much to read and so little time ... one lifetime is too short for all the great fiction there is... I end up collecting a lot, but then, it takes me years before I actually read it. Anyway, "The Martian" has to be on my list.

P.G. Wodehouse's writings are pretty funny as a whole, but the Jeeves and Wooster stories are the best of the lot :)

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Sim   

I will get around to contributing to this thread at some point, Sim...! Haven't forgotten! ;)

Sure, take your time ... no need to hurry. With my second daughter just born, I rather think in terms of months and years, rather than days or weeks anyway, these days. ;)

At any rate, thank you very much for investing thought into the topic! I'm very curious about your ideas, as I guess (based on your contributions here so far) your recommendations will be both trustworthy and original!

Edited by Sim

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Gotta have some Arthur C. Clarke in there as well.   I'd recommend the original "Rendezvous With Rama" and "Childhood's End"; two of my favorites of Clarke.  

And if you're ever interested in the origin of American pulp/comic book heroes, such as Buck Rogers, Superman, Flash Gordon or even Star Wars?  You should try the original "John Carter From Mars" book, Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Princess of Mars" (1912).   It was the inspiration for SO MANY of the current trends in American (and arguably international) pop culture.   John Carter is magically teleported to Mars, and finds that in its lower gravity, he is a virtual superman to the Martians (several distinct ruling classes of them).   He also falls in love with the Princess and saves her from the clutches of evil (Star Wars fans ought to see that one coming).   In the book's pages are the roots of Superman, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, etc.  They're all there.  Granted, "Princess of Mars" is a simple adventure tale, but it's well-told, and it inspired legions of ongoing imitations ever since...

Burroughs is also the author of the "Tarzan" novels.  

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Sim   

Gotta have some Arthur C. Clarke in there as well.   I'd recommend the original "Rendezvous With Rama" and "Childhood's End"; two of my favorites of Clarke.  

And if you're ever interested in the origin of American pulp/comic book heroes, such as Buck Rogers, Superman, Flash Gordon or even Star Wars?  You should try the original "John Carter From Mars" book, Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Princess of Mars" (1912).   It was the inspiration for SO MANY of the current trends in American (and arguably international) pop culture.   John Carter is magically teleported to Mars, and finds that in its lower gravity, he is a virtual superman to the Martians (several distinct ruling classes of them).   He also falls in love with the Princess and saves her from the clutches of evil (Star Wars fans ought to see that one coming).   In the book's pages are the roots of Superman, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, etc.  They're all there.  Granted, "Princess of Mars" is a simple adventure tale, but it's well-told, and it inspired legions of ongoing imitations ever since...

Burroughs is also the author of the "Tarzan" novels.  

Thank you very much! A couple of months ago, I asked you guys about classic SF in a different thread, and consequently bought a couple of stories as e-books. The two Clarke recommendations are among them, but I haven't found the time reading them yet. I guess it's a matter of compulsive collecting at the moment... when the time is right, I'd like to have the good stuff ready. :)

Borroughs does sound intriguing! Thank you very much for mentioning him, I hadn't heard of him before.

As far as classic inspiration for modern pop culture goes, I just read an intriguing story:

The 40 pages hoax "The Adventure of Hans Pfaall" by Edgar Allan Poe. From the 1830s, it intriguied me on different levels: Apparently written as a parody on the precursors of SF of those days, it's the "report" of a man who flew to the moon in a balloon. In this stories, I saw traces of things Jules Vernes would write later, and the parody of pseudo-scientific explanations in bad SF still works today. Although it's not meant entirely seriously, it still gives an interesting insight in the state of technology and cosmological knowledge of that age.

I was surprised Poe wrote such a short story. Before I started reading his stories, I had had no idea he was so versatile; somehow, I had considered him limited to dark romanticism/gothic stories... but he was obviously a good satirist and even early SF writer, as well. :)

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Gotta have some Arthur C. Clarke in there as well.   I'd recommend the original "Rendezvous With Rama" and "Childhood's End"; two of my favorites of Clarke.  

And if you're ever interested in the origin of American pulp/comic book heroes, such as Buck Rogers, Superman, Flash Gordon or even Star Wars?  You should try the original "John Carter From Mars" book, Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Princess of Mars" (1912).   It was the inspiration for SO MANY of the current trends in American (and arguably international) pop culture.   John Carter is magically teleported to Mars, and finds that in its lower gravity, he is a virtual superman to the Martians (several distinct ruling classes of them).   He also falls in love with the Princess and saves her from the clutches of evil (Star Wars fans ought to see that one coming).   In the book's pages are the roots of Superman, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, etc.  They're all there.  Granted, "Princess of Mars" is a simple adventure tale, but it's well-told, and it inspired legions of ongoing imitations ever since...

Burroughs is also the author of the "Tarzan" novels.  

Thank you very much! A couple of months ago, I asked you guys about classic SF in a different thread, and consequently bought a couple of stories as e-books. The two Clarke recommendations are among them, but I haven't found the time reading them yet. I guess it's a matter of compulsive collecting at the moment... when the time is right, I'd like to have the good stuff ready. :)

Borroughs does sound intriguing! Thank you very much for mentioning him, I hadn't heard of him before.

As far as classic inspiration for modern pop culture goes, I just read an intriguing story:

The 40 pages hoax "The Adventure of Hans Pfaall" by Edgar Allan Poe. From the 1830s, it intriguied me on different levels: Apparently written as a parody on the precursors of SF of those days, it's the "report" of a man who flew to the moon in a balloon. In this stories, I saw traces of things Jules Vernes would write later, and the parody of pseudo-scientific explanations in bad SF still works today. Although it's not meant entirely seriously, it still gives an interesting insight in the state of technology and cosmological knowledge of that age.

I was surprised Poe wrote such a short story. Before I started reading his stories, I had had no idea he was so versatile; somehow, I had considered him limited to dark romanticism/gothic stories... but he was obviously a good satirist and even early SF writer, as well. :)

Burroughs also wrote the "The Land that Time Forgot", which was arguably the inspiration for every man vs. dinosaur book and movie made in the generations since, including "Jurassic Park." 

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Sim   

Gotta have some Arthur C. Clarke in there as well.   I'd recommend the original "Rendezvous With Rama" and "Childhood's End"; two of my favorites of Clarke.  

And if you're ever interested in the origin of American pulp/comic book heroes, such as Buck Rogers, Superman, Flash Gordon or even Star Wars?  You should try the original "John Carter From Mars" book, Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Princess of Mars" (1912).   It was the inspiration for SO MANY of the current trends in American (and arguably international) pop culture.   John Carter is magically teleported to Mars, and finds that in its lower gravity, he is a virtual superman to the Martians (several distinct ruling classes of them).   He also falls in love with the Princess and saves her from the clutches of evil (Star Wars fans ought to see that one coming).   In the book's pages are the roots of Superman, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, etc.  They're all there.  Granted, "Princess of Mars" is a simple adventure tale, but it's well-told, and it inspired legions of ongoing imitations ever since...

Burroughs is also the author of the "Tarzan" novels.  

Thank you very much! A couple of months ago, I asked you guys about classic SF in a different thread, and consequently bought a couple of stories as e-books. The two Clarke recommendations are among them, but I haven't found the time reading them yet. I guess it's a matter of compulsive collecting at the moment... when the time is right, I'd like to have the good stuff ready. :)

Borroughs does sound intriguing! Thank you very much for mentioning him, I hadn't heard of him before.

As far as classic inspiration for modern pop culture goes, I just read an intriguing story:

The 40 pages hoax "The Adventure of Hans Pfaall" by Edgar Allan Poe. From the 1830s, it intriguied me on different levels: Apparently written as a parody on the precursors of SF of those days, it's the "report" of a man who flew to the moon in a balloon. In this stories, I saw traces of things Jules Vernes would write later, and the parody of pseudo-scientific explanations in bad SF still works today. Although it's not meant entirely seriously, it still gives an interesting insight in the state of technology and cosmological knowledge of that age.

I was surprised Poe wrote such a short story. Before I started reading his stories, I had had no idea he was so versatile; somehow, I had considered him limited to dark romanticism/gothic stories... but he was obviously a good satirist and even early SF writer, as well. :)

Burroughs also wrote the "The Land that Time Forgot", which was arguably the inspiration for every man vs. dinosaur book and movie made in the generations since, including "Jurassic Park." 

Just got Burroughs as very cheap e-books. It's great that so much older stuff is available for free, or a very low price, in this format.

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Gotta have some Arthur C. Clarke in there as well.   I'd recommend the original "Rendezvous With Rama" and "Childhood's End"; two of my favorites of Clarke.  

And if you're ever interested in the origin of American pulp/comic book heroes, such as Buck Rogers, Superman, Flash Gordon or even Star Wars?  You should try the original "John Carter From Mars" book, Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Princess of Mars" (1912).   It was the inspiration for SO MANY of the current trends in American (and arguably international) pop culture.   John Carter is magically teleported to Mars, and finds that in its lower gravity, he is a virtual superman to the Martians (several distinct ruling classes of them).   He also falls in love with the Princess and saves her from the clutches of evil (Star Wars fans ought to see that one coming).   In the book's pages are the roots of Superman, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, etc.  They're all there.  Granted, "Princess of Mars" is a simple adventure tale, but it's well-told, and it inspired legions of ongoing imitations ever since...

Burroughs is also the author of the "Tarzan" novels.  

Thank you very much! A couple of months ago, I asked you guys about classic SF in a different thread, and consequently bought a couple of stories as e-books. The two Clarke recommendations are among them, but I haven't found the time reading them yet. I guess it's a matter of compulsive collecting at the moment... when the time is right, I'd like to have the good stuff ready. :)

Borroughs does sound intriguing! Thank you very much for mentioning him, I hadn't heard of him before.

As far as classic inspiration for modern pop culture goes, I just read an intriguing story:

The 40 pages hoax "The Adventure of Hans Pfaall" by Edgar Allan Poe. From the 1830s, it intriguied me on different levels: Apparently written as a parody on the precursors of SF of those days, it's the "report" of a man who flew to the moon in a balloon. In this stories, I saw traces of things Jules Vernes would write later, and the parody of pseudo-scientific explanations in bad SF still works today. Although it's not meant entirely seriously, it still gives an interesting insight in the state of technology and cosmological knowledge of that age.

I was surprised Poe wrote such a short story. Before I started reading his stories, I had had no idea he was so versatile; somehow, I had considered him limited to dark romanticism/gothic stories... but he was obviously a good satirist and even early SF writer, as well. :)

Burroughs also wrote the "The Land that Time Forgot", which was arguably the inspiration for every man vs. dinosaur book and movie made in the generations since, including "Jurassic Park." 

Just got Burroughs as very cheap e-books. It's great that so much older stuff is available for free, or a very low price, in this format.

Any format is fine, really.   His books were considered pulp material in their day, so I'd say an e-book is the way to go. 

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Sim   

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Any of David Sedaris's books--they're not classics...but they're incredibly hilarious! The one that I most recommend is Me Talk Pretty One Day.

 

Thank you!

I'll put that on my list! :)

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kenman   

kenman, I love your signature, lol

Why thank you, a personal favorite Douglas Adams quote of mine. 

By the way, all Douglas Adams books should be in an English language library!

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I know this is a very old thread, but I thought it was interesting. (What is the rule on posting in old threads, anyway?)

What did you think of the books you ended up getting? I never finished Moby Dick...definitely want to do that at some point. It's hard to recommend stuff without knowing what you tend to like, but I'll just go with a few that haven't been mentioned yet:

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë.

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë.

Persuasion, Jane Austen.

You already have David Copperfield by Dickens, which is another good classic. 

If you like fantasy, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is worth looking at. 

 

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52 minutes ago, Explorer3 said:

I know this is a very old thread, but I thought it was interesting. (What is the rule on posting in old threads, anyway?) 

None.  

If you find a thread you wish to respond to, and it isn't locked?  Be our guest.   ;)

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14 hours ago, Explorer3 said:

I know this is a very old thread, but I thought it was interesting. (What is the rule on posting in old threads, anyway?)

What did you think of the books you ended up getting? I never finished Moby Dick...definitely want to do that at some point. It's hard to recommend stuff without knowing what you tend to like, but I'll just go with a few that haven't been mentioned yet:

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë.

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë.

Persuasion, Jane Austen.

You already have David Copperfield by Dickens, which is another good classic. 

If you like fantasy, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is worth looking at. 

 

Thx for your recommendations! I already added "Jane Eyre" and "Wuthering Heights" to my collection last year. Also "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen.

What I think of them -- well, I have to admit, I haven't found the time reading by far most of it, yet. With my two little daughters and the formation I started September, there is just so few time and energy left for reading... either I was so exhausted I rather watched tv, or read less demanding stuff (usually in German, which requires less concentration for me).

But I have indeed read several short stories by Poe, Bradbury and H.G. Wells, finished "A Tale of Two Cities" by Dickens and a while back, I already finished "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" by Twain.

But that's been a while, so I don't remember the details... except that I was surprised how modern some of Poe's stories appeared to me, and that I can see how Bradbury and Wells short stories were the immediate forerunners and inspiration for tv formats such as "The Twilight Zone": Neat little stories, the fantastic element giving them a nice flavor, and often an interesting morale.

I liked Twain's often bittersweet dark humor, though I had some troubles with the African American dialect. ;)

"A Tale of Two Cities" was refreshing compared to other novels by big realists of the 19th century I had read before, such as Dostoyevsky or Fontane, insofer I felt it was more vivid and less confusing about its characters. But then, I read somewhere this novel is more economical with the number of its characters than other Dickens novels...

In general, I feel English language literature, even when it's considered "high" or "serious" literature, is more accessible than their German counterparts; for the lack of a better word, I feel German authors are often more "pretentious" for the lack of a better word, and if they have one at all, a less easy-going sense of humor. Another interesting observation is that early on, there were female English writers already, while there were next to none (of fame) in Germany prior to the 20th century.

I've also started reading the first few chapters of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson a while back... and recent developments made me think I should re-read Orwell's "1984" occasionally (only read it once, more than 20 years ago).

Edited by Sim

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