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This & That: Overrated Classics
Hey there readers,
In today’s newsletter I’m featuring a memorable line from Bruce Catton, a list of overrated classics (that I would love for you to add to!), and a few great links to peruse over the course of your week.
Quote of the Week
Though it was a worthwhile reading experience for me, I can’t say I enjoyed every page of Bruce Catton’s Army of the Potomac trilogy. Over the course of about 1,000 pages, Catton brings us right to the battlefields of the Civil War and provides the soldiers’-eye view of the war that defined America. There are pages and pages and pages of tactical movements that, at times, made my eyes glaze over; but when Catton zooms out a little bit and offers his analysis on the war, it’s brilliant.
More than anything, he de-romanticized a war that was still rather romanticized when these books were published in the 1950s. The quote above is one example of his bringing the ugly truth to an ugly conflict.
The Mini List: Overrated Classics
We just wrapped up The Count of Monte Cristo over at The Big Read; most readers, myself included, enjoyed it to a degree but also struggled with its sheer immensity. In that vein, here’s a few classics that I find to be a bit overrated:
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain — I love Twain, but this thing is as outdated as unsliced bread. Call me crazy, but it’s barely readable and definitely not kids’ fare.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes — I actually quite enjoy the premise and most of the writing, it’s just too dang long. Satire gets rather repetitive after a couple hundred pages. As with Monte Cristo, get yourself an abridged version.
Ultimately, your mileage with the classics really depends on your unique reading tastes. Let’s hear it from you — what are your picks for the most overrated classics?
A few great links
Author J. Ryan Stradal on writing who you love and how his books are a way of memorializing his mother.
I didn’t love Walter Isaacson’s new bio of Elon Musk (I DNFed after about 75 pages); but I did love this profile of the prolific biographer.
In sad bookstore news, longtime Denver establishment Tattered Cover has filed for bankruptcy and is immediately closing a few of its locations. This is a friendly reminder to always support your local bookstores when you can!
How loneliness changes the way our brains process the world. Some really interesting notes here, including how folks process fiction.
Thanks for the time and inbox space. I really appreciate it!