Formidable Classics

classic-novels-on-shelves2  I love Classic literature and adore many genres within the classics. Once I started reading them I was hooked, and have forever been changed as a reader. I have read many classic books and so I’ve developed  much in skill and maturity. As I broaden my scope, reading more and more amazing books from the greats, I find myself looking at a few that I keep putting off. The books that I find either a bit daunting, or time consuming, or just find myself hesitating on aimlessly. I need to address these books that challenge me from my shelf.

Here are a few Challenging Classics calling to me in anticipation:

War and Peace
This is the book of books to read for any person interested in classic literature. It is a well known challenge, and one I think I am up for. It’s a book that although I may find challenging or time consuming, I do actually think that I will really enjoy. I think I just need to commit to reading it, and get to it. Oh and did I mention it is a whopping 1296 pages, no small feat. Hopefully a worthwhile one.

Rated 4.4 on

Book Bean: Russian Tea
Within Russia, tea usually includes lemon, and sugar or jam. Tea sachets are widely popular, but when a teapot is used it is very common to make a strong brew, then pour some into a cup and top it with hot or boiling water, adding milk and sugar afterwards.

A utopia is a community or society possessing highly desirable or near perfect qualities. The word was coined by Sir Thomas More in Greek for this 1516 book Utopia (in Latin), describing a fictional island society in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt to create an ideal society, and imagined societies portrayed in fiction. I don’t know if this classic book is a challenging one or not, but I do know I’ve been meaning to read it for a very long time.
Rated 4.3 on

cafe-de-olla-in-a-mugBook Bean: Café de olla
Traditionally brewed in large quantities over a wood fire in a heavy earthenware Mexican cooking pot called an “Olla”. Place 4 cups water, 2/3 cup dk brn sugar, 1tsp molasses, and 2 cinnamon sticks (and aniseed optional) in a saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil, and stir thoroughly to dissolve sugars. When the mixture reaches boiling, stir in 2/3 cup drk rst coffee (med. grind) remove from heat, cover, and steep for 5 minutes. Strain into stone cups, and enjoy with cinnamon sticks. 

Moby Dick
It’s a whale of a book! Or so I hear 😀 This book does not really speak to me, as far as content I feel compelled to read. However, it is so well known as a literary masterpiece that I feel I must one day challenge myself and read it. It’s a novel by Herman Melville, in which Ishmael narrates the monomaniacal quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler Pequod, for revenge on the albino sperm whale Moby Dick

Rated 4.2 on
unnamedBook Bean: Seafoam Tea
In a blender blend; 1/2 can coconut milk (cold) till frothy. Add in 2 cups of white tea (cold) and re-blend. Last add a pinch of finely ground lavender leaves (and/or mint, is a nice option)  and 1 cup of cool whip (or ice-cream.)


The Scarlet Letter
I have always wanted to read this book, but for one reason or another I just never do. I hope that one day I will, but it’s not looking promising. I always start reading it, but then I set it down and don’t pick it up again. It’s bothersome really. I don’t know if in the end I will like, love, or hate this book, but I do know that I will be glad I read it!

Rated 4.4 on

Book Bean:
Sinful Cinnamon Dulce
Temper white chocolate in a mug. Steam and Froth milk of choice (I like rice for this recipe) and pour over chocolate. Top with a small zip of whip and sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir and enjoy.


These are the formidable classics on my shelf, what are yours?

If you don’t read the classics, what challenging books have been haunting you?


59 thoughts on “Formidable Classics

  1. Those are quite formidable. For Moby Dick you just have to read the famous first line, “Call me Ishmael.” Just kidding! But, there are about 100 pages on the biology of sperm whales you can skip (not kidding). But, take a break with some short classics–Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Camus, The Stranger, and Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men all come in at around 100 pages.

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  2. It took me two tries to finish War and Peace. I found it useful to keep a list of characters by my side. I enjoyed Anna Karenina also. Currently, I am reading Fitzgerald with Conrad in the wings.

    Great list!

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  3. I have read all but Utopia. It has to be a dystopia, right, as there is no Utopia in this world.
    War and Peace was definitely formidable. I was mostly at “war” with it, because I had two weeks to read it in college and create a lengthy paper that did, however, get me credit in both an English course and a history course. So that is why I chose it.
    David Copperfield is still waiting on the bookshelf…

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  4. I haven’t had a lot of time to get to the classics (although I read an extremely edited (made for middle schoolers) version of Moby Dick when I was a child.) However, I read the Iliad last summer and it was super rewarding and obviously a classic for good reason!

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    • I did that with Les Miserables and it was good but felt very watered down. However I think they are a great option for books that are not possible to get through. I’d really like to get to The Iliad!

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  5. I loved War and Peace, Moby Dick and the Scarlet Letter – I’ve read Moby Dick twice recently – it’s inspired a lot of my artwork. Reading these books as an adult was a more rewarding experience that any of the edited for school short summaries that I remember from school. It is also different to read the classics for fun than because I had to write a paper.

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  6. The Scarlet Letter was a quick and easy read, compelling and relatable. I read Moby Dick, because I had to, and I had no expectation of enjoying it, but 150 pages in (sorry, it took that long), I was entirely captivated and read straight through a weekend at the Gulf coast. I loved it. The same was true for Shakespeare’s histories–warm, insightful, good companions. I haven’t made it through much of Dickens and feel I “ought.” The same is true for Upton Sinclair and Pearl Buck–influential but passed me by.

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  7. I have a classics shelf on my Goodreads list, and my goal is to always be reading one fiction/fantasy, one classic, and one “reference” I suppose I could call it (Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces would fit into this latter category). My current classic is Paradise Lost, and I have Shakespeare, Dickens, Plato, and H.G. Wells on there to name a few. Also Dracula, Beowulf, The Aeneid, The Odyssey, Inferno, 1001 Arabian Nights, and Faust for some others! I’m hoping to read Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece when I finally finish Paradise Lost, but finding reading time has been a struggle to which I’m sure many of us can attest.

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  8. War and Peace is an excellent novel, yet I found the second reading; after I learned a bit more of Russian history, made it much more enjoyable. It is like Les miserable, in that you really need to know a lot of French history to really enjoy the novel.

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  9. Pingback: My Article Read (4-26-2016) – My Daily Musing

  10. Have not read many classics, only the ones i think i will enjoy like The Brontes books and some Dickens etc.I did recently read To kill a Mocking Bird which is one i put off reading for years.Loved it! Currently reading a modern classic ( i think) the Night Circus,another book I have kept putting off reading.Love it too.Yours sound very heavy though.Good luck.X

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    • I bought the Night Circus a long time ago, but never read it… I should. If you liked To Kill a Mocking Bird you may like some of Steinbeck’s work, like Of Mice and Men or East of Eden, bot are fantastic.

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  11. I haven’t read War and Peace but I watched the lastest mini tv show based in the book. I really enjoyed it but there were some times I was bored. I can’t say if it was a good or bad adaptation but I liked it.
    Utopia seems like something interesting to read, hope one day I get around to do that!

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  12. I’ve never been able to get through War and Peace, despite the fact that I have read many other books by Leo Tolstoy. I have a short attention span.

    I enjoyed Sir Thomas More’s Utopia many years ago. I do not believe that he envisioned a “perfect” society per se. It had many flaws like slavery. He should have known better because slavery was illegal in Europe at the time.

    However, he used the story to expose a lot of hypocrisy and absurdity prevalent in European society. It is only challenging because of his old-fashioned prose.

    I picked up Moby Dick last year but I still have not managed to get into it.

    Recently I found an antique copy of Gulliver’s Travels and Luther’s Small Catechism which were both printed in the 19th century. I also found The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.

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  13. OK, thanks to this post I’ve just added Utopia to my “read next” list (that means it will happen, but it’s a long list). I really have wanted to read it for a while so thanks for the prompt.

    I greatly enjoyed War and Peace and Moby Dick, although both have their detractors.

    I’m not sure if Updike qualifies as “classic” but I’ve never read any of his work and that’s on my list of things to change.

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  14. Thank you for the follow! As I have studied literature for some years at university, I love classics. Utopia I haven’t read though, and neither Ulysses…only short parts of them. There is much fun left to do for us all!

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  15. Nice choices. I have read several classics. One that is winking at me is the “Vicomte de Bragellone” by Dumas. The end of the three musketeers. Have had it on my shelves for more than 40 years. six volumes… 😦
    (Plus I feel I have to re-read the three musketeers and Twenty years later first…) 😉

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  16. Abbie Lu, I’ve come to “thank you” for your post. Reading through some of the comments on a post similar to these “classic” books, someone mentioned “Redeeming Love”. A Christian classic I have learned. Anyway, I had forgotten I purchased the book last year and had not read yet. Your post reminded me of the book, and as soon as school was out, I immediately began to read. Thank you!!! I was completely taken away into another time and season, and the joy of the experience was so refreshing!! Thank you for stirring us up to continue to search out the blessings tucked inside the pages of a book😊

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  17. A gem of a list. War and Peace is worth the long pages -actually anything Tolstoy is worth the long pages! The man was a prophet, basically. He knew the human heart from the inside. Much the same with The Scarlet Letter. It cuts to the core: in literature, pain is beauty! And besides we wouldn’t have half the inspiration of for cinema if it weren’t for books such as these.

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