Classic Remarks: Classic Book You’re Afraid to Pick Up

This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: What is a classic novel you are afraid to pick up? Why?

I should preface by saying that in 2020 I finally read the Classic on my tbr that I was most intimidated by, which was Lonesome Dove. I was intimidated partly because of its size (it was 800 pages long!) and the fact that it was a Western, which is easily my least familiar genre. I had no idea what I was going to get, and 800 pages of I don’t know what I’m going to get was pretty scary! I ended up liking it well enough, I think I gave it 4-stars, but it’s not one I would purchase or re-read. You can read my sort-of-review here if you want.

Right now there actually aren’t very many classics on my tbr, and most of them are books that I would call “modern classics”. Meaning, written after 1950. They are books that have made it into the literary canon, but maybe aren’t old enough yet to really refer to as classics. And there is one in particular that I’m nervous about.

I am, of course, referring to Kindred by Octavia Butler.

Actually, I am nervous about all of Octavia Butler’s work, and there are several reasons. The first is that I don’t often enjoy classic Sci-Fi novels, and I don’t want to not like Octavia Butler. Another reason is that I’ve gathered over the years that her books are weird. Not like, bad weird, but weird in the way that some science fiction is. Bizarre might be a better word. And, again, that’s not something I usually enjoy. Finally, I understand that there’s graphic violence, including sexual assault, on the page in her books. In the past graphic sexual assault has been very upsetting to me, understandably so.

I think all of these are valid reasons to be nervous about reading a book, but I don’t think they’re good enough reasons to not read it.

I have been making my way through the Sci-Fi classics over the last few years, and Butler has gotten put off partly because of the reasons stated above, and partly because I kept getting gifted other Sci-Fi classics, so I read them first. (Oh, plus that time I found The Martian Chronicles on sale for $2, lol.) I’m disappointed with myself for letting being nervous about a book that is so important to the history of Sci-Fi, but also still so relevant, stop me from reading it. So one of my 2021 resolutions is to finally read Kindred.

But gracious, I am so scared I’m not going to like it. I don’t want to be the person who didn’t like Octavia Butler.

Is there a classic novel that YOU are nervous or scared to read?

10 thoughts on “Classic Remarks: Classic Book You’re Afraid to Pick Up

  1. My husband’s been pestering me to read Les Mis, but he also has gone on and on about how it’s really long and really dense. I want to read more Hugo, because I enjoy the adaptations of his work, but “long” and “dense” stories don’t really appeal to me right now.

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