People Critique The Literary Classics They Think Are Actually Poorly Written

Here's a confession: Try as I might, I just can't get into J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

It's a book that just didn't work for me, and I've read it at least three times, at different points of my life, to see if it would click.

Part of the issue is that I don't particularly think the book is all that well written.

I could say the same about Salinger's Franny and Zooey, which appears to be well regarded even by people who didn't care for Catcher.

I know what you're thinking: Who is this Philistine?!

But guess what? I'm not the only person out there with a thing against a literary classic or two.

For that, you can thank Redditor Girafarigno, who asked the online community,

"What novel that is considered a classic is not actually a well-written book?"

"While I enjoyed some of his books..."

"While I enjoyed some of his books, I have a feeling that if you were to completely erase all of Ernest Hemingway's novels from public existence, had everyone pretend they never happened, and had someone else basically publish those exact books under a different name with the same writing style and everything, most people, including book editors and literary experts, would think that person was a bad writer."


You know, at the time I read it, I truly felt like the only person who actually liked The Sun Also Rises. While I have revisited and enjoyed Hemingway significantly, few books have touched me the way that one did.

"It's a great exercise in technique..."

"Ulysses, James Joyce."

"It's a great exercise in technique, but it's f****** damn near unreadable."


This is an incredibly difficult book. Is it really so much a book as much as it is an opportunity for Joyce to flex his muscles?

"The talent is there..."

"Gravity's Rainbow by Pynchon. The talent is there, it's just lazy and incoherent masquerading as something on the order of Ulysses, which is boring as hell but a masterpiece for good reason given its incredible depth and tightness."


I've tried and I've tried to get into Pynchon and I just can't. I still have a headache from The Crying of Lot 49.

"I understand..."


"I understand that (the first book at least) is cobbled together from magazine prints, but still, it's a jarring read where it still feels unfinished, so much so that I didn't bother with the books after the first one."

"I understand they get a lot better, but still..."


You're just saying that because the movie is out!

Nah, it's okay. It's not for everyone. Took me a while to get through it and I actually ended up loving it.

"It's a lot of very disconnected episodic chapters..."

"Moll Flanders, which is only really a classic in the sense that it's very important to the development of the novel as one of the earliest examples of the form."

"It's a lot of very disconnected episodic chapters, and the author doesn't really keep track of some pretty important details, including the names of most of her children."

"I never fully finished it."


Now here's a book I almost completely forgot about.

The bookstore I once worked at had several copies on hand and I don't think I ever saw anyone pick a single one of them up.

"Twain hated Cooper's writing, too."

"The Deerslayer, by James Fennimore Cooper, which is very long and waffly, and for what's meant to be fairly action-oriented it conveys it quite poorly."

"Twain hated Cooper's writing too, so I'm not alone in finding it tedious.

"Despite that, it was pretty interesting to think about, even though the novel itself was pretty bad."


"I was one of those..."

"I was one of those straight-A students in high school who always did all the homework on time. That being said, the one book I did NOT finish was Wuthering Heights."


You mean you're not a fan of the toxic relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine?

I am, believe it or not. That book was quite the ride, and I think many people read it expecting something totally different.

"Even my teacher..."

"The Pearl. Even my teacher said it was one of the few John Steinbeck works she couldn't stand. The book is tiny and as an avid book lover should've taken me like an hour or two to read."

"It took me the entire summer. I had to force a page at a time. It was awful."

"Decades later and it's still the worst book I've ever read. And I tend to love most classics."


"I'm five volumes in..."

"Clarissa, by Samuel Richardson. It's wayyyyy too long, poorly edited, loathsome characters... I'm five volumes in and at this point hate reading it till the end."


There was no reason for Clarissa to be so long. I took one look and noped out of there so fast.

"I just think..."

"Heart of Darkness. I just think it is so incredibly boring. I had to read it for three separate classes and I really tried to like it each time, but I just can't stand that book."


Moral of the story here: You just won't like everything. I still can't abide Charles Dickens, for instance, who was paid by the word (and it shows).

But there's plenty out there that feels made for you: I can read Dracula over and over and never get tired of it.

To each their own.

Want to vent about some books that aren't mentioned here? Feel free to tell us more in the comments below!

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