Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

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Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by More Weight »

Most of the literature canon can be learned to a powerable level through rote memorization of tossups and a Sparknotes readthrough, but which ones are more fun or are personally enlightening to actually read? I am unsure of which of the books/plays/poems/collections that get tossed up in quiz bowl are worth the time, and would love some suggestions. To get this started, I recommend Vonnegut's books, because his writing is thought-provoking and funny to read. It helps that his famous stuff is all ~250 pages or less.

Fun to read/watch:
Tennessee Williams
Vonnegut
Bradbury



Not fun to read:
Rushdie
Heart of Darkness
Last edited by More Weight on Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

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I would postulate that there are very few famous works of fiction that are not enjoyable when read with an open mind--if no one liked them they wouldn't have been notable in their time--but I might as well say that I personally read The Unbearable Lightness of Being for a class recently and enjoyed it immensely.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by El Salvadoreno »

I can tell you what I like, but I think recommending something would be easier if I knew what you already liked.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

Tornrak wrote:I would postulate that there are very few famous works of fiction that are not enjoyable when read with an open mind--if no one liked them they wouldn't have been notable in their time--but I might as well say that I personally read The Unbearable Lightness of Being for a class recently and enjoyed it immensely.
I second this opinion. Also anything by Hesse.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by Mewto55555 »

The QBWiki has a comprehensive list of all the books worth reading that come up in quizbowl.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by Ciorwrong »

Mewto55555 wrote:The QBWiki has a comprehensive list of all the books worth reading that come up in quizbowl.
Dude I am so ready for that author tossup on Walter Rudin. His analysis novel had the most dense and evocative descriptions I have ever seen in a work of literature.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by vinteuil »

Progcon wrote:
Mewto55555 wrote:The QBWiki has a comprehensive list of all the books worth reading that come up in quizbowl.
Dude I am so ready for that author tossup on Walter Rudin. His analysis novel had the most dense and evocative descriptions I have ever seen in a work of literature.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHOLFZnFa0w
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by acrosby1861 »

More Weight wrote: Not fun to read:
Rushdie
Heart of Darkness
Agreed to the Heart of Darkness part. Had to read for AP Lit, I didn't understand much. And I'm currently working on one of Rushdie's books for AP Lit, too. I'm not that really into it.

But I enjoyed Brave New World. And A Tale of Two Cities.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by The Polebarn Hotel »

Midnight's Children is literally the best book though!
Also Haruki Murakami and Orhan Pamuk!
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock »

The Great Gatsby has been my favorite "classic" lit book for quite a while now. Plus it comes up a ton in quizbowl, so it's definitely worth the read.

Great Expectations, on the other hand, is not so great.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by acrosby1861 »

acrosby1861 wrote:And I'm currently working on one of Rushdie's books for AP Lit, too. I'm not that really into it.
The Polebarn Hotel wrote:Midnight's Children is literally the best book though!
Also Haruki Murakami and Orhan Pamuk!
I wasn't referring to Midnight's Children, I've never read it. I was referring to the Rushdie book I'm reading for AP Lit, which is The Ground Beneath Her Feet
gettysburg11 wrote:The Great Gatsby has been my favorite "classic" lit book for quite a while now. Plus it comes up a ton in quizbowl, so it's definitely worth the read.
I read this recently. :)
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by bolshevik »

I really, really liked Cat's Cradle and also The Picture of Dorian Gray
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by Wartortullian »

I'm currently reading Foucault's Pendulum and really enjoying it. One Hundred Years of Solitude is also excellent.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by Banana Stand »

Heart of Darkness is so good, what is going on in here? Moby-Dick is worth a read, too. Fundamental part of U.S Lit that comes up all the time and is a really awesome experience(I think the cetology parts catch too much flak from people who claim to dislike it). Beloved is also really good.

Kafka and Dostoevsky are probably my favorite hyper-canonical authors. Read The Trial if you haven't.
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Borel hierarchy wrote:this one's p solid
there was even a tossup on it in ACF Nationals 2017!
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by High Dependency Unit »

I really enjoyed Foucault's Pendulum and The Name of the Rose, though it takes someone who really likes the minutiae of history to enjoy those books. I also really enjoyed Things Fall Apart, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Kurt Vonnegut.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by Monstruos de Bolsillo »

gettysburg11 wrote:
Great Expectations, on the other hand, is not so great.
Can confirm, horrible book, probably the worst I've had to read for school. It's really long and slow-moving.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by Zealots of Stockholm »

Banana Stand wrote: Moby-Dick is worth a read, too. Fundamental part of U.S Lit that comes up all the time and is a really awesome experience(I think the cetology parts catch too much flak from people who claim to dislike it)
This.

To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book, canon or not, but don't bother with Go Set a Watchman. Also I really enjoy Auden's poetry and liked Things Fall Apart and Gatsby. Wuthering Heights was probably the most boring book I've ever read.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by Stained Diviner »

Borel hierarchy wrote:this one's p solid
tl;dr
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by Antrobus63 »

Obviously, this is subjective (for instance, I don't understand why "Great Expectations" is a drag for many people) but...

Fun-to-read books that often come up in QB:
"One Hundred Years of Solitude" by GG Marquez
"A Christmas Carol" by Dickens
"Tom Jones" by Fielding
"Pale Fire" by Nabokov
"Catch-22" by Heller

Wonderful (if not exactly fun-fun) books that come up in QB:
"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by Joyce (this is truly a book for brainy young people who struggle with the world; changed my life)
"Middlemarch" by G Eliot
"invisible Man" by R. Ellison
Kafka's short stories
Chekhov's short stories
"Anna Karenina" or anything else by Tolstoy

Fun books that seldom come up in QB:
"The Monk" by Matthew Lewis (a Gothic classic; the nuttiest book you will ever read)
"McTeague" by Frank Norris (also wild)

Fun books that never come up in QB:
"Les Liaisons Dangereuses" by Choderlos de Laclos (probably my favorite book)
For Sci-fi fans: "Rendezvous with Rama" by Arthur Clarke, "Red Planet" and "Starship Troopers" by Robert Heinlein.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by Banana Stand »

Antrobus63 wrote: Fun books that seldom come up in QB:
"The Monk" by Matthew Lewis (a Gothic classic; the nuttiest book you will ever read)
"McTeague" by Frank Norris (also wild)

Fun books that never come up in QB:
"Les Liaisons Dangereuses" by Choderlos de Laclos (probably my favorite book)
These actually come up a lot, so don't worry about them not getting coverage they deserve!
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by acrosby1861 »

Monstruos de Bolsillo wrote:
gettysburg11 wrote:
Great Expectations, on the other hand, is not so great.
Can confirm, horrible book, probably the worst I've had to read for school. It's really long and slow-moving.
I thought Great Expectations was alright. I definitely needed some time to really think about it before I understood it. I guess I can compare that thinking thing to The Sound and the Fury too.
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Post by Rather Wild Indeed »

acrosby1861 wrote:
Monstruos de Bolsillo wrote:
gettysburg11 wrote:
Great Expectations, on the other hand, is not so great.
Can confirm, horrible book, probably the worst I've had to read for school. It's really long and slow-moving.
I thought Great Expectations was alright. I definitely needed some time to really think about it before I understood it. I guess I can compare that thinking thing to The Sound and the Fury too.
The Great Illustrated Classics version was pretty good. :lol: :lol:
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by sharathun »

Some books/lit I really liked:

Cat's Cradle (I hated S5 but this was really funny)
Lord of the Flies
Fahrenheit 451
Of Mice and Men (really short and really good)
A Streetcar Named Desire
Waiting for Godot (super weird but still cool)
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by scholarhillery »

Mewto55555 wrote:The QBWiki has a comprehensive list of all the books worth reading that come up in quizbowl.
^My new favorite forums post.

I thought that Great Expectations was quite good. I found The Stranger to be at least thought-provoking (and it's very short). The Catcher in the Rye is also short and fun for the whole family.
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Post by Majin Buu Roi »

I'm surprised Ionesco hasn't been mentioned yet, but I've adored everything I've ever read/seen by him. Rhinoceros in particular is one of my favorite works of fiction ever.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

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Mewto55555 wrote:The QBWiki has a comprehensive list of all the books worth reading that come up in quizbowl.
Do you know where on the wiki you can find it? The organization on the site is a bit eclectic.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by vinteuil »

tksaleija wrote:
Mewto55555 wrote:The QBWiki has a comprehensive list of all the books worth reading that come up in quizbowl.
Do you know where on the wiki you can find it? The organization on the site is a bit eclectic.
https://www.qbwiki.com/wiki/How_to_beco ... from_Class
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by tksaleija »

Food for thought: If you had to narrow the lit Canon down to a top 10 (poets, authors, playwrights, novels, etc.) what do you think it'd be? If not 10, then however many you can think of.
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Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

tksaleija wrote:Food for thought: If you had to narrow the lit Canon down to a top 10 (poets, authors, playwrights, novels, etc.) what do you think it'd be? If not 10, then however many you can think of.
What are you looking for - authors that come up the most, or authors that are the most important in the overall history of literature?

In terms of authors that are most likely to come up at a given tournament, I'd probably say my "top authors to learn for quizbowl" (and I know this is neither definite nor a list of 10) are Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Eliot, Keats, Dostoevsky, Achebe, and Garcia Marquez - each of these guys comes up at most tournaments, and for good reasons (in fact it's probably a crime if Shakespeare doesn't feature at least once in your set). I won't argue that they're definitely the most influential people in the whole history of literature (I don't have nearly enough knowledge on the subject, and lit is one of my worst categories) but I do think you'll get a lot of mileage from learning these folks. Also, I know they're all by different authors, but the four major classic Chinese novels (Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, Journey to the West, and Dream of the Red Chamber) are all super foundational culturally, and come up pretty often in accordance with this.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by tksaleija »

Thoughts on the Bronte sisters novels? I've heard some mixed reviews on Wuthering Heights but little explanation as to why.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by More Weight »

Banana Stand wrote:Heart of Darkness is so good, what is going on in here? Moby-Dick is worth a read, too. Fundamental part of U.S Lit that comes up all the time and is a really awesome experience(I think the cetology parts catch too much flak from people who claim to dislike it). Beloved is also really good.

Kafka and Dostoevsky are probably my favorite hyper-canonical authors. Read The Trial if you haven't.
There are sections where the meaning is clear, but I flipped to a random page and found a 200 page description of a boat. The plot and events just aren't clear. So I guess the issue I have with Heart of Darkness is that I'd involuntarily rather fall sleep than read it.

tksaleija wrote:Thoughts on the Bronte sisters novels? I've heard some mixed reviews on Wuthering Heights but little explanation as to why.
Though it has big words, Wuthering Heights ain't bad to read. It's a little stiff sometimes, but the meaning of the work is clear at least.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by 1992 in spaceflight »

I'd really like to reject this idea that there are parts of the literature canon "worth the time to read." Everyone has different tastes in literature, and saying that certain books or authors aren't worth the time to read is just beyond silly.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by LeoLaw »

1992 in spaceflight wrote:I'd really like to reject this idea that there are parts of the literature canon "worth the time to read." Everyone has different tastes in literature, and saying that certain books or authors aren't worth the time to read is just beyond silly.
Agree. Dostoevsky is my favorite author but I can't say that it is "worth the time" to read for quiz bowl reason cause his books are just so long. Although Notes from Underground is short, fun, and did came up a couple times recently.
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Re: Parts of the Lit Canon worth the time to read

Post by jsugrue »

More Weight wrote:Not fun to read:
Rushdie
Heart of Darkness
I made the mistake of reading Heart of Darkness this year. Didn't really understand a word of it. On the other hand, though, I just read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and had a great time with it.
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