01 December 2011

Literary Blog Hop: Recommendations

Literary Blog Hop
It has been a little while since I've participated in the Literary Blog Hop over at The Blue Bookcase.  I am really happy to see it today though, since I love to have a chat with my literary type bookish peeps.

The hop is from December 1-4 and the question for this go round is:  What work of literature would you recommend to someone who does not like literature?

Being a teacher of college students, I sort of feel like I'm in the business of recommending literature for people who don't think they like it (sometimes they do like it; I don't mean to overgeneralize).  Sometimes my recommendations are good ones, and sometimes they don't work out.  Here are a couple that I think are good:

Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is awesome.  I have taught this one a number of times, and most of my students really like it.  It is a quick read, but it is so filled with so many wonderful, literary things.  O'Brien's writing is moving and emotional, but it is also super meta-textual and complex and genre-bending.  It is a great work of Literature with a capital "L," but it's also just a compelling read, with a good story.

My other suggestion would probably be Steinbeck.  I heart Steinbeck and I think he appeals to all kinds of readers.  My favorite is The Grapes of Wrath (which I read in high school when I wasn't quite the literature buff that I am today, and I still loved it), but for a non-literature-reader, I might suggest starting with Of Mice and Men (just an itty bitty baby book that packs an enormous emotional punch) and then moving into something like East of Eden, which is a behemoth, but reads like a beachy page turner (albeit one with lots of sadness and prostitution). I mean, Oprah did select it for her book club, so it must have popular appeal (you know, like The Sound and the Fury :/).

How about you all, lovely readers?  How do you respond to a friend who only likes page turners, or even doesn't like to turn pages?  What would you recommend?


  1. I LOVE Steinbeck, but somehow I've gotten the impression that no one else likes reading him... I would recommend The Grapes of Wrath to anyone in a heartbeat though :)

  2. I can't believe I still haven't read anything by Steinbeck. Ill get there in the end though! There are just too many great books to read.

  3. I can't believe sometimes that I haven't read anything by Steinbeck. I've seen the size of, Of Mice and Men. It really is an itty bitty book. It reminds me of To Kill A Mockingbird in that regard, a little book with an emotional punch.

  4. For some reason when I made my list I didn't consider Steinbeck even though he's one of my favorite authors. My favorite is East of Eden, but I might recommend starting with Cannery Row or Tortilla Flat because I think they more accurately capture the essence of Steinbeck than Of Mice and Men (though OM&M is really fantastic and wonderful).

  5. @Laura: Really? People don't like Steinbeck? I feel like they do.

    @Becky: Give them a try! They are quick reads, even the long ones.

    @Loni: It's even smaller than TKAM. There are so many holes in my reading; I couldn't even begin to count them.

    @brooks: I like Cannery Row a lot, but I haven't read Tortilla Flat since I was much younger, so I don't have many memories of it, but I don't think I liked it as much.

  6. Steinbeck is a good choice-I listed as one of my Choices To Kill a Mockingbird-another American classic-I am now happy to be a follower of your blog.

  7. @mel u: Thanks for following! I haven't read TKAM for a long time, since high school. I definitely need to reread it.

  8. I'm guilty of not reading any Steinbeck either but I definitely plan to remedy that next year as part of the classics challenge.
    I'm following you too :)

  9. I have not read as much Steinbeck as I should, I have to remedy that in 2012!

  10. Oh man I did not like Steinbeck in high school (we read the pearl). I found him really dry... but maybe I'll try of Mice and Men

  11. Great choice & seems to be a popular one, I reccomended The Dream Life of Sukhanov” by Olga Grushin & Taichi Yamada's Strangers

  12. I have yet to read The Things They Carried, but it gets recommended a lot. I need to take a hint one of these days and read the darn thing.

    I read a lot of Steinbeck when I was young and came away with the impression that everything he wrote was incredibly depressing. But I loved animals, and they always seemed to be dying in his stories. So there was that. I think it's time for me to revisit him.

  13. I am so behind commenting on things. Anyway, O'Brien is such a good choice. It's Lit that doesn't feel like lit. Steinbeck I still need to try (I also read Grapes in high school but didn't love it and haven't been back to the guy since).


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