A little pretension does a mind good.

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A little pretension does a mind good.

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Apr 20, 2007, 9:29 pm

I frequently shudder at some of the reading lists that I see around here. I'm a snob, that's not up for grabs, and it doesn't surprise me. So what is the most "academic" book you have read cover to cover. I mean "academic" in the graduate level reading list sense of the word.

Apr 20, 2007, 9:56 pm

Considering I've only gotten through 4 years of accelerated high school English, I'm going to have to go with Crime and Punishment both in terms of the reading level and the amount of work and research that went along with it.

Apr 20, 2007, 11:19 pm

Dante's Inferno, definitely. I love reading "classics" on my free time, because the ones we read for school aren't normally the good ones.

Edited: Apr 21, 2007, 10:12 am

That's a tough one. Are you talking about fiction, literary criticism, and/or nonfiction? I was an English major in college, so I've worked my way through many "academic" type books. If you mean relatively obscure books, my favorite one of those is Our Mutual Friend by Dickens.

(Looks like the touchstones aren't loading... sorry about that!)

Apr 21, 2007, 12:31 pm

I actually loved Crime and Punishment. Also, Jane Eyre, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Robert Fagles' edition of The Odyssey.

And some of the books I'm hoping to get to this summer are The Picture of Dorian Gray, Don Quixote, and Wuthering Heights, among others.

(Hmm. Methinks there's a touchstone bug about.)

Apr 21, 2007, 12:56 pm

This is a fun thread :)

Unfortunately most of the things on my graduate reading lists aren't entire books, or I could provide a much more impressive list of works I've read in Greek and Latin.

As it is, I think the most "academic" book I've read cover-to-cover is The Copernican Revolution by Thomas Kuhn.

Apr 21, 2007, 7:34 pm

Do you mean academic in the sense of nonfiction or fiction. If you mean nonfiction, I would have to go with Kings and Philosophers by Krieger or The Structure of Scientific Revolutions also by Thomas Kuhn. I read fiction for fun, so I'm sure my list would be one you shudder at.

Apr 22, 2007, 5:30 am

You'd probably shudder at my reading list because I enjoy pretty much everything. I am an English major though, so I also read plenty of academic works, classics and the like - enough so that my brain often needs a break when I'm not studying. I've enjoyed Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenina, War and Peace, and my two favorite books are Jane Eyre and The Age of Innocence. I also really like Paradise Lost.

Possibly the most obscure I've read is Tristam Shandy, but I have to admit that I hated it. It is very "academic" in the sense that there is so much hidden in it.

I can't really think of much non-fiction that I've read which is academic, most of my non-fiction is history.

Apr 23, 2007, 12:34 pm

i enjoyed crime and punishment and anna karenina. i tried reading don quixote, but found it really tough going and gave up pretty early. i also started war and peace, but just got confused by all the characters with unfamiliar names. will probably give it another go sometime though, seeing as i loved anna karenina.

Apr 23, 2007, 2:15 pm

I started reading Don Quixote and I was actually enjoying it, but I got so busy with school I had to put it off. Sadly, that was almost three years ago. One day I will read that book.

Apr 23, 2007, 2:22 pm

The first half of Don Quixote is quite good and very amusing. The second half, not so much - I read it last semester for a class. It is certainly worth reading - I'd recommend a few chivalric romances first though to get a feel for the genre he's mocking. Chretien de Troyes is my personal favorite author of that genre, in case anyone is interested in this. =)

Apr 25, 2007, 7:02 am

I don't know, I don't know what counts. Most of the books people mentioned here I haven't even tried. I read a few books in high school and at my first college that would probably qualify. But I read for fun, to relax, so I read books that I think are fun and enjoyable.

I'm sure there are booklists here fit to make any one of us shudder, and I too am snobbish about books, in my own way.

Apr 25, 2007, 8:11 am

Yeah, I own a lot of books that would make book snobs shudder too...most of the classics I own are because I was forced to read them for school! Now, that's not to say that I didn't enjoy a few of them, but I much prefer popular fiction that I can reread and enjoy multiple times.

Edited: Apr 26, 2007, 7:35 am

littlebookworm, I don't know how you could have gotten through Tristam Shandy - I gave up before I finished the first chapter :p Kind of like with Bleak House....I'm a naughty English major!

I too though, have a reasonably wide reading list; I'm guilty of a fair bit of snobbery myself, but I still hold to the need to read widely so you can really appreciate fantastic work.

The 'most academic' is subjective; I made myself suffer through Dissemination by Jacques Derrida, as far as non-fiction is concerned. Fiction-wise, the most 'erudite' sort of book I can think of is any of J.M. Coetzee's works, or George Eliot.

Apr 29, 2007, 4:36 pm

Like a couple of others I've seen here, I too, enjoyed Crime and Punishment. It was one of the books I had to read in 4 years of AP English, among many others. Usually I had a tendency to rebel and not read any of the books I was assigned to read, but that was one I actually finished and enjoyed. John Steinbeck I also loved. As I'm re-reading some of them now there's still one I can't stand, Billy Budd.

Apr 30, 2007, 4:01 am

Don't worry, siew, I despised it, and sometimes do wish I'd given up. I could see why my professor liked it because it had a lot to it, but ick, never again will I look at that book.

#15, istartedthejoke, Billy Budd is one of only two books that I did not finish in my high school curriculum. I hated it that much. The other is The Invisible Man.

Apr 30, 2007, 4:57 am

Heh. Academic book? At age 14? The most academic book I've read would be Gone With the Wind or Pride and Prejudice. I tried reading Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee because the LibraryThing Suggester suggested it, but I read the first page and was like, "ah, yeah, I don't quite think this is for me!" I now know that I should check books before I borrow them.

Apr 30, 2007, 7:27 am

littlebookworm -
If you mean Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, then I totally sympathize! I hated that book with a passion, although not as much as A Farewell to Arms.

If you mean The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, I can't sympathize because I've never read it!

Apr 30, 2007, 12:36 pm

I did actually mean the one by H.G. Wells. I just recall the book being completely boring and distasteful, and added to the fact that we had no test on it, I just didn't read it. In hindsight I think this might be because I don't like science fiction.

I've never read the other one, although I've been told that it's good. I guess you disagree with this, and I prefer to just stay away!

Apr 30, 2007, 4:11 pm

Well, maybe Ralph Ellison's book might have been better if I had just read it on my own...I hated it though, and considering we had just finished a huge project on The Grapes of Wrath before we read Invisible Man, I think I was a little tired of lengthy books!

May 8, 2007, 6:34 pm

Hemmingway does indeed suck, but he is useful to get younger readers to understand modernism without the um...how to put this nicely, difficult vocabuary.
As far as Don Quixote is concerned, it is two books, I liked the first, but the second was rather boring.

May 15, 2007, 11:21 am

Probably my biggest accomplishment would have to be The Grapes of Wrath for my AP American Lit class... I've read so many good books for that class, The Secret Life of Bees, Ceremony, The Awakening, Cat's Cradle, and currently reading The Great Gatsby. I'm so scared for As I Lay Dying!

May 21, 2007, 8:32 pm

I absolutely love Ellison's Invisible Man. It is dense and difficult to fully comprehend. I read it for a class in university, and it helps talking about a work as you're reading it with a professor. I know I would never have been able to appreciate so many of the great books I have read without the help of professors and teachers. They help you get a feel for reading difficult prose. Now that I am graduated, I am so much more comfortable opening a tough read. I feel prepared and confident that I no longer need help analyzing books, no matter how challenging they are. I know without university, I would never enjoy books like Invisible Man, or The Great Gatsby, or any of the many others.