Tag Archives: Hemingway

Ten Classic Novels I’ve Never Read

One of the first tenets in the writing world is to be well-read.

It’s one of those givens…in order to be a good writer you must read – a lot.

What should prospective writers read? you ask…

The accepted philosophy is anything and everything – whether it’s Gone With the Wind or the back of your cereal box.

Just read.

should be reading

Well…I have a confession to make, but before I bare my soul…I want to say that I do love to read. I read as much as I can (when I’m not writing) so I would like you to take that fact into consideration as you read on.

This is my confession (I feel like I should genuflect and cross myself or something)…

There are many great…no CLASSIC works of literature I have not read.

Sometimes when I’m with other writers I feel somewhat ashamed when the conversation turns to Dickens or Shelley or Verne, because I’ve never read them, but I hide it well and I’ve learned to bluff my way through the conversation.

Now it’s time to ‘fess up…I’m going to list 10 classic novels I have never read.

Why am I doing this?

Well, ordinarily I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, but I think when 2015 gets here I am going to make a concerted effort to read more – starting with some classics.

So, without further ado…

 

10 Classic Novels I Have Never Read

 

10) Pretty much anything by Charles Dickens. I’ve seen many of the movies/plays, but I have never finished a Charles Dickens novel. They were assigned reading in high school (David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations) but I could never get past the first few chapters. I blame it on the distractions of youth.

dickens

9) Ditto for Ernest Hemingway. More assigned reading in high school (The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms & The Old Man and the Sea) which I never bothered to read. Once again…chalk it up to a wandering teenage mind.

8) 1984 by George Orwell. Another example of assigned reading that took a back seat to girls and baseball. Even though I’ve learned a great deal about the story by osmosis I have yet to actually read it.

7) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I’ve never even seen the movie. Horror just isn’t my thing – although I do appreciate the metaphor of people creating a monster and not being able to deal with it afterward.

6) On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Even though I’ve always considered myself more of a hippy than a beatnik – Kerouac’s handbook for the Beat Generation seems to be going strong even after 57 years, so it must have something really cool to say, daddy-o.

5) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. More classic literature I was supposed to read in high school. Judging by the classroom discussions, it’s a fairly interesting story, but I still don’t know for sure. I’m not really a high society kind of guy.

gatsby

4) Animal Farm by George Orwell. Naturally I’m familiar with the concept, and I love political satire, but the fact remains I’ve never read a single word of it.

3) The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I’ve heard many things about this book. Unfortunately, thanks to some of the more deranged members of our society, I have avoided reading it. That needs to change.

2) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. A Pulitzer Prize winning novel written by a Nobel Prize winner, this tale of American history should be a must read for every citizen…at least that’s what I’ve heard.

1) Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I know, probably not the most influential novel of all time, but it’s about the military (I love books about the military) it’s about bureaucratic logic (or the lack thereof) another theme near and dear to my heart. I remember my mother reading this book when I was young and she seemed to really enjoy it. I’ve seen the movie and loved it, so it’s high-time for me to read the book.

catch 22

They say confession is good for the soul…I think it’s true. I feel better now that I’ve come clean about my lack of literary diversity. This is not to say that I am totally lacking in that department…I’ve read many classics, but the majority of my reading is contemporary, and not considered classic.

They also say that knowing you have a problem is half the battle…so I’m halfway home – I just need a good book for the rest of the trip!

road reading

What classics are on your list? Share them in the comments if you dare!

 

As always – thank you for reading

 

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Another First Draft Finished…but it’s not The End

Yesterday, for the seventh time in five years, I typed an authors favorite two words…

the end

I’m speaking symbolically of course…I’ve never actually typed those words at the end of a novel. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen them in a book, but I did finish the first draft of my latest, as of yet untitled, novel.

The irony is that, now that the first draft is finished, it’s not the end at all…it’s really only the beginning.

There’s still a lot of work to do before it is ready for you. In the next few days I will distribute copies to my beta-readers and wait for their feedback.

Beta readers are the unsung heroes of the book-writing world, and I’m lucky to have some really good ones.

None of them worry about hurting my feelings and each of them has contributed something that has improved my work in the past.

Like any author worth their salt, I am extremely grateful for them, and any input they offer is always taken very seriously. That’s not to say I act on all of it, but I definitely pay attention.

A few of my betas have been with me since the beginning, and a couple of them have only done one book. Along the way there have been some people who thought they wanted to be a beta, but unfortunately they didn’t understand the job description, so I had to keep looking until I found suitable replacements.

Didn’t understand the job description? How is that possible? Read the book and tell the author what you think…right?

It doesn’t sound like a complicated task, and in fact it isn’t…once the ground rules are clearly defined and understood.

When an author asks for beta readers, they aren’t asking for somebody to read a draft and tell them it’s the best thing they’ve ever read. We aren’t delusional; we all know what Hemingway said…

first draft

No, what we are asking for is someone to read a first draft and punch holes in it.

Big holes.

We don’t want to hear about missing commas or spelling mistakes…that’s part of the editing process.

A beta reader’s primary responsibility is to tell the author what they didn’t like about the book.

  • Things that didn’t make sense in the story.
  • Characters that weren’t believable
  • Dialogue that didn’t ring true
  • Anything that made them stop and say well that just ain’t right

The author is asking you to rip the story to shreds. Even if it’s just as simple as saying The story just didn’t grab me.

So, for the next two or three weeks my book will be in the hands of  people who are tasked with picking it apart, so I can put it back together before I send it to the editor…who will then proceed to pick it apart some more.

All of this is done in hopes that you, the reader, won’t know how bad the first draft really was.

 not the end

 

As always – thank you for reading

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