Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Classics


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is underrated books or authors in a particular genre. Most of you know I can't pass up an opportunity to talk about classics, so here is my list of ten underrated classics. These are all books I have enjoyed and think should be read more widely.


An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
This is my current read and, while it may be overly long, it's very good. I've already added Sister Carrie  to my "must read" list.



Why is Anne the lesser Bronte? She was way ahead of her time with this novel.



Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
This is Yates' most popular novel. His books tend to be depressing, but he is an amazing writer. 



The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
I read this book nearly a decade ago during a week-long snowstorm - a very memorable experience. The miniseries is excellent, too.



Independent People by Halldor Laxness
This saga from the Nobel Prize-winning Icelandic author is a "huge, skaldic treat filled with satire, humor, pathos, cold weather and sheep."



The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Do not miss this Persephone classic!



The Cairo Trilogy by  Naguib Mahfouz 
These three novels (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street) by the Nobel Prize-winning author tell the story of a Muslim family in Cairo during Britain’s occupation of Egypt in the early decades of the twentieth century.



Therese Raquin by Emile Zola
My introduction to Zola, "Therese Raquin  is a clinically observed, sinister tale of adultery and murder among the lower classes in nineteenth-century Parisian society." I loved it!



Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Angle of Repose receives more attention, but Crossing to Safety  is my favorite.



Stoner by John Williams
A truly beautiful novel. "John Williams’s luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world."


Have you read any of these books? Which classics do you think are underrated?
Visit The Broke and the Bookish for more Top Ten Tuesday posts.

45 comments:

  1. Glad to see the Forsyte Saga - I've not read it but it's on my TBR - was slightly intimidated by it, so I'm happy to see you enjoyed it! :)

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    1. O - I've been wanting to reread The Forstye Saga and recently downloaded it to my kindle. It's so good!

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  2. Oh gosh, I love Revolutionary Road so much. Maybe it's because I have a thing for depressing books, but I just adore that one. And I read Crossing to Safety for the first time last year...I think I highlighted more in the first five pages than I have in any other book!

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    1. Shannon - I love Richard Yates! The Easter Parade is my favorite and also his most autobiographical novel... very highly recommended! Crossing to Safety is probably my favorite book, ever.

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    1. Kathy - These aren't really mainstream classics.

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  4. I haven't read any of those. It sounds like there is a lot of enjoyment within the pages. Thanks for sharing your list.

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    1. Pat - Definitely! These were all great books.

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  5. I haven't read any Anne Bronte but I've heard she's been unfairly neglected. I'm adding all these to my wishlist (except maybe Revolutionary Road!). Great list! You always find the most interesting classics.

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    1. Katherine - After reading Tenant last year, I've added Anne's other novels to my wish list.

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  6. I suck at classics...even ones that are more popular! I probably need to bookmark this post, just for a place to start.

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    1. Sandy - None of these are the really big classics that most people read, but I thought they were great!

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  7. Sister Carrie was my introduction to Dreiser, and I absolutely loved it! Definitely want to try An American Tragedy. I have several of these books on my TBR including Tenant and Stoner.

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    1. Andi - I'm so impressed with An American Tragedy... will almost be sorry to see it end. Sister Carrie is a must read for me now!

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  8. To be honest, I kind of forgot there even was an Anne Bronte... I love Wuthering Heights! Favorite book of all time, but yeah... Definitely forgot about the sister. Great list! Thanks for sharing :)

    Here are my Top Ten!

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    1. Tracy - Poor Anne... seems like we readers are always forgetting about her ;-)

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  9. Great list, JoAnn! The only one I've read is An American Tragedy. I tried but failed to get into Revolutionary Road once . . . but it was probably the wrong timing for me to read it.

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    1. Leila - I just love Richard Yates, but his books are so depressing. If you're willing to give him another shot, I'd suggest Easter Parade. It's both his most autobiographical novel and my favorite.

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  10. Now I have a bunch more books to add to my list. I totally agree about Crossing to Safety--Angle of Repose blew me away, but I enjoyed Crossing to Safety even more.

    I'm reading my first Emile Zola right now (Germinal) and it's sheer poetry, despite the dark material.

    My sister also loves The Forsythe Saga and like yours, her opinion on books is one I value.

    I agree that Anne Bronte tackled subjects that no other woman writer did for decades after her, but I did find Tenant a trifle repetitive.

    I love the cover of The Home-Maker.

    Love these Top Ten lists :)

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    1. JaneGS - Stegner is a favorite, his writing is so beautiful. The Spectator Bird is next for me. I also loved The Big Rock Candy Mountain.

      Zola is a treasure and I'm surprised more people don't read him. Germinal is his masterpiece, but I have fantasies of reading the Rougon-Macquart series in order - crazy, I know.

      I have such fond memories of The Forsyte Saga! Don't think there has even been such a pleasant snowstorm. The book I read had the first three novels with two interludes, but I have now downloaded the entire set. It's only a matter of time ;-)

      I was so impressed with Tenant. Shocked and pleased with the subject matter... can't wait to read more.

      The Home-Maker was a favorite a few years ago. So pleased I stumbled upon this author. Truly a must read.

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  11. A great list. The ones I now I love - especially The Home-Maker, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Therese Racquin - so I really should try the others that I haven't read.

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    1. Fleur Fisher - Thanks! Every time I make one of these lists, I think I should stop reading contemporary fiction and just concentrate on the older books I love so much.

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  12. TEN books to add to my list. Stoner came up on the Audible daily deal the other day and I meant to snag it because of your recommendation but I forgot. Sad! I do have Revolutionary Road on my shelf but it hasn't been calling to me.

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    1. Trish - The writing in Stoner is so beautiful, I almost can't imagine listening (strange coming from me, I know). There were passages I wanted to read over and over again. For what it's worth, Revolutionary Road was my introduction to Yates and I listened to that one. It's read by Mark Bramhall (a first class narrator) and I loved it. I've read several more Yates novels, all in print. He's one of the best writers ever!

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    2. Yes, I do know exactly what you mean about reading in print versus listening to the words. I tend to appreciate more when read visually (though I do love audio...)

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  13. Oh, JoAnn. What a marvelous list you've compiled! I own several of them, have read a few, and long to read most, when will I get to Stoner and The Home-Maker?! I read Therese Raquin for Paris in July one year and absolutely loved it.

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    1. Bellezza - I would advise you to drop what you're reading and pick up Stoner and The Home-Maker immediately... am certain you will love them!

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  14. My mom loved The Forsythe Saga and I think I have her first copy on my shelves.

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    1. Nise' - I have such fond memories of The Forsyte Saga. I recently downloaded it to my kindle for a reread.

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  15. Its only recently that I've been hearing about Stoner - so weird that it should come out of the wood work now.

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    1. Itsonlythree - I'm not sure who is responsible for the recent surge in Stoner's popularity, but it is so well-deserved.

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  16. My book club read Crossing to Safety last year and a lot of people liked it...even though I wasn't a huge fan.

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    1. Sarah - It's been about ten years since I read Crossing to Safety... definitely time for a reread!

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  17. I've only read Revolutionary Road and I have to say I really didn't care for it. But I do want to try the Stegner book and Stoner! You sure rock the classics!

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    1. Les - Revolutionary Road was my intro to Yates and also the only one of his novels I experienced on audio. So, so depressing, but the audio kept me going. The Easter Parade is my favorite... I just love his writing!

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  18. I wholeheartedly agree about the Stegner, the Dreiser, and the Canfield Fisher. I think Stoner has gotten so much press in the last five years (deservedly so) that it might not longer be underrated.

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    1. Thomas - You're right about Stoner. Not sure who is behind the recent surge in popularity/publicity, but it's definitely well-deserved. I want to read Butcher's Crossing, also available as NYRB Classic edition.

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    2. NYRB Classics has also just issued his novel Augustus. I own both of them (although Augustus in some other edition) but haven't read either of them yet. I think it is because I am not drawn to the subject matter. The old west and antiquity aren't settings I go for too often. I probably need to get over that. I think I am slightly worried I only liked Stoner because I like books about academia.

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    3. Thomas - They aren't my thing either, but I was so impressed with the writing in Stoner, I'm willing to give them a shot.

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  19. Sad to say I've not read any of these, JoAnn. I haven't spent anytime in the classics really. I read Jane Eyre and didn't really care for it and everyone else seems to adore it. I must be wired differently. I do see several on this list that sound interesting to me though and will give a try. I believe I have the Forsythe Saga on ebook. The Homemaker is a must read as it sounds like my mother!

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    1. Peggy Ann - I think you would like The Home-Maker. Jane Eyre was never a favorite of mine... keep thinking I should try it again some day.

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  20. Definitely need to add some of these to my bookshelves!

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    1. Lisa - So many good books out there...

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  21. I saw the movie Revolutionary Road and loved it so I rushed out and bought the book...it's still sitting on my shelf!

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    1. Stacy - I never watched the movie because I was afraid it couldn't possibly live up to the book! I'm sure enough time has passed now... adding it to my Netflix list.

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