Why I’m forcing myself to read Howard’s End.

on June 7, 2010 in I heart books. with 25 comments by

1. I found it on my bookshelf and I figured…

2. I should read the books that are on my bookshelf.

3. I don’t know how or when I purchased it, but at some point in my life I found this novel to be worth my hard-earned $6.95.

4. I bought it at Barnes & Noble. And it is a B&N Classic, which means it “offers readers quality editions of enduring works at affordable prices.” Or so the back cover says.

5. I feel a lot of pressure to read the Classics. I figure if a novel has been given such a label, it might be beneficial to read it.

6. I’m writing a lot of nonfiction right now, and it makes me absolutely love reading fiction. I’m like a fiction glutton. A vacuum for fiction. A fiction hoarder. [I’ve got a few more in my bag of tricks, but I’m gonna stop there.]

7. Howard’s End is listed on page 261 in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. So. There’s that.

8. Page 261 also says it is “truly a masterpiece.” So. There’s that as well.

I am currently on page 61 of Howards End and while there are definite times that I have NO IDEA what is going on, I haven’t quit yet.

Meanwhile, every time I mention to a friend, “Hey, have you ever read Howards End?” everyone so far has said, “Uh, no.” So no one is motivating me to enjoy this puppy one little bit.

Maybe you can. Have you read it? What are your thoughts?

Are there other classics that you think I should read? And it isn’t rude for you to assume I haven’t read the book you suggest, so don’t feel the pressure to say, “I’m sure you’ve read it, but…” because you can never be sure.

[Unless it is To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve totally read that.]


  1. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 4:03 AM  |  reply

    I saw the movie! But haven’t read the book. Alas.

  2. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 6:36 AM  |  reply

    Anthony Hopkins is in the movie. I had a Faulkner summer one time. What was the name of that book we read in book club that was old?

  3. Kathleen
    posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 6:47 AM  |  reply

    I’ve read it, but I liked A Room with a View more (same author).
    Watch the movie!

  4. Amy
    posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 8:10 AM  |  reply

    East of Eden is my absolute favorite. I also love The Great Gatsby and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

  5. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 8:14 AM  |  reply

    I gave up the classics when I passed World Lit (or Masterpieces of Western Literature as it was called at my esteemed college). However, I vaguely remember enjoying A Separate Peace and Gulliver’s Travels. Unfortunately, my literature these days seems to be more of the trashy paperback you can read in a few hours (Janet Evanovich anyone?).

  6. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 8:23 AM  |  reply

    A classic? I’ve never even heard of it. Does that make you feel better? Must be like the librarian who looked at my daughter when she checked out Ben Hur and said, “Well, good luck with that one.” We learned you don’t read a book just because it’s a classic. I can’t tell you how many ‘classics’ we started and put down before finishing them. Bronte, Austen, Dickens…those are the classics I can really get into. (Although if you’ve read one of their books, you’ve pretty much read them all.) Don’t feel badly about putting that baby down. Donate it to the library book sale. (To Kill a Mockingbird and Christy are on my summer reading list again this year.)

  7. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 8:54 AM  |  reply

    My sophomore year I took a course called “British Literature of the 20th Century,” and we read Howard’s End.

    I think it was one of the best books we read in that class. (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man? Kill me.) BUT it wasn’t exactly one of my favorite books of all time. I kind of forget what made it good, honestly.

    But, I’m all for forcing myself to read the classics. 🙂 I’m going to force myself to read “Cry the Beloved Country” soon. Have you ever read that?

  8. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 9:06 AM  |  reply

    The classics and I have not been able to find a meeting of the minds. Last year, I committed to read Jane Eyre. I started it. I tried to make it through. I rented the DVD and watched it. It was wonderful. Does that count?

    I didn’t think so.

  9. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 9:09 AM  |  reply

    Haven’t read it but it took me half the movie to figure out what was going on, so you’re right on track. Room With A View was really good, too. If you’re looking for fiction that will make you giggle but still feels obtuse and classic-y, try a Georgette Heyer novel. “The Devil’s Cub” or “The Masqueraders” are my current faves. The language is hilarious and the stories aren’t half bad.

  10. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 9:58 AM  |  reply

    To Kill a Mockingbird is divine, isn’t it? Loved it.

    Please read East of Eden. Amy is right, it’s wonderful.

  11. jennifer
    posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 10:18 AM  |  reply

    To Kill A Mockingbird…my favorite. Harper Lee was from the samll town in alabama where my aunt lives. There is a huge Harper Lee/ To Kill A Mockingbird Festival every year. Love that book…

  12. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 10:28 AM  |  reply

    i’ve tried anna karenina 3 different times.

    and it’s beautiful!

    but there are SO MANY characters and it is SO DANG LONG.

    the last time i got nearly 1/3 thru it and gave up.

    are you disappointed in me now?

  13. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 11:04 AM  |  reply

    You should try reading some of Wilkie Collins’ books. His two most famous novels are “The Woman in White” and “The Moonstone”.

  14. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 11:56 AM  |  reply

    From your friendly college English professor, I recommend these:
    Flannery O’Connor short stories
    Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
    Shakespeare’s The Tempest

    That’s a start and easy to finish in a month. I didn’t want to overwhelm you. You can also read my blog (which, according to some, is good writing 🙂 http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com/

  15. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 12:09 PM  |  reply

    I have a really hard time reading the classics, I just get bored and lost. I super pumped for Kristin Billerbeck’s new book “Perfectly Dateless” though!

  16. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 5:12 PM  |  reply

    Most of my reading now is young adult fiction… things my students are reading.

    I’m in love with The Great Gatsby, and most classic lit. If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice, then you absolutely must read Pride and Prejuice and Zombies. Simply delightful.

    A Separate Peace- superb as well. And A Wrinkle in Time. It’s young adult, but it is wonderful.

    Jane Eyre is also another good piece of classical literature.

    Of course, this is all coming from the girl who took English Lit as an elective in college.

  17. alyssa
    posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 6:17 PM  |  reply

    i am making myself read Crime and Punishment right now. it is miserable. i dread it every time i pick it up. But i have heard so much about it as a study of human psychology.

    The two posts about East of Eden are dead on. That is by far my favorite. Also i agree with Jennifer in the post above about Jane Eyre. I read that book over and over again.

    Also, call me weird but i also loved Wuthering Heights. It is a bit depressing, but so romantic.

  18. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 6:32 PM  |  reply

    Okay…I haven’t heard of Howard’s End before, but one summer, at camp, I chose to read Wuthering Heights. Alyssa, I have to take you up on your offer and call you “weird!” LOL. I had a hard time following the story and it left me feeling depressed for days! But, once I start a book I’m pretty determined to finish, so I did. I think you should probably read it. Just so you can talk about it and sound all edumacated!

  19. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 8:20 PM  |  reply

    I too have tried to read Anna Karenina 3 separate times and have not made it through, but I’ve heard it’s great. 🙂

    I love Jane Eyre, Count of Monte Cristo, David Copperfield, and My Antonia. And of course all jane Austen. If you start with one of those, I recommend My Antonia. It’s fabulous. David Copperfield is Dickens, which means it’s looooong, but I just love the characters.

    I do, however, despise Wuthering Heights.

  20. sarah
    posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 9:29 PM  |  reply

    haha i bought the same B&N classic at some point in time!! i haven’t made it past page 50. but it’s on my list of books to read by summer’s end. so here’s to hoping we both get our $6.95’s worth out of this book!

  21. posted on Jun 07, 2010 at 10:30 PM  |  reply

    ooooh, talking lit makes me swoon! i’m reading east of eden right now and so far it’s gripping. not sure it counts as a classic, but john irving’s a prayer for owen meaney is my ALLTIMEFAVORITE book. ever, did i mention that? a very very very close 2nd is cslewis til we have faces. beautiful.
    some of the classics that made me scratch my head were jonathan livingston seagull and kurt vonnegut slaughterhouse 5. yet i loved animal farm and the jungle. oh, another book i read in some college class and thoroughly enjoyed was anne radcliff’s mysteries of udolpho (ms radcliff, if you may recall, was jane austen’s inspiration to be a female novelist). same class were several books by n. hawthorne and if you’ve never read any of his non scarlet letter books, he’s soooo good, too!!!
    ps i’d never heard of howard’s end til now either.

  22. posted on Jun 08, 2010 at 9:21 AM  |  reply

    As an English major I read Howard’s End for one of my courses. It took me half the book and helpful discussion sections with the professor before I finally had a grasp on it. Not one of my favs, but glad I read it. Although I will admit it is not one that I remember well… As far as my classics, I love everything by Austen and Bronte.

  23. Jessica
    posted on Jun 08, 2010 at 11:35 AM  |  reply

    I loved To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Jane Eyre and several other classics. I recently read Pride & Predjudice and it was good – took me a long time to get through it.

  24. posted on Jun 09, 2010 at 9:42 AM  |  reply

    Well, I appreciate Misty’s “if you may recall” line, giving us the benefit of the doubt that we would actually know, thereby beinging able to recall, that Anne Radcliff was Jane Austen’s inspiration to be a female novelist! (I’ll take Author’s Inspirations for $1000, Alec.)

    That said, Pride and Prejudice. Great stuff. It’s always helpful and enjoyable to watch the oh-so-attractive Colin Firth in the BBC version too. I also loved Jane Eyre.

    I liked a lot of the “children’s” classics that I never remembered reading. Anne of Green Gables (the whole series is great), The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, etc.

    Have fun reading!

  25. posted on Jun 09, 2010 at 10:42 AM  |  reply

    Shamefully, I’ve never even heard of Howard’s End.

    I LOVE anything John Steinbeck, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor. As far as newer stuff goes, I highly recommend T.R. Pearson and Ferrol Sams. Hilarious and brilliant Southern writers.

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