Gaps in My Cultural Knowledge Volume Two– Iconic Books I’ve Never Read

Yesterday I mentioned that I’ve been working on shoring up some of the gaps in my cultural knowledge, starting with movies.  Next up is literature: here are five acclaimed novels that I have never read:

  1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  2. Lord of the Flies
  3. The Sound and The Fury
  4. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  5. Breakfast of Champions

For what it’s worth I’ve also never seen the movie adaptations of any of these books (I assume they all been adapted).  Should I go out and get these books now?

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Gaps in My Cultural Knowledge Volume Two– Iconic Books I’ve Never Read

  1. I really like Breakfast of Champions (at least, I did the last time I read it, which was something like ten years ago). Fear and Loathing is… probably better if you’re on a LOT of drugs. We have an amazing radio play of it which is NOT GOOD if you’re on drugs (ask me how I know).

  2. P.S. I have never read Stranger In A Strange Land and I never, ever plan to. So there.

  3. Annika, I’m with you on Stranger.

    Will, I’ve only read the first two. But I have read Ulysses. I couldn’t really tell you anything about it, but I’ve read it.

  4. Definitely pick up Lord of the Flies (and go for the original B&W adaptation, not the 90’s color version).

    Most embarrassing lapse in my reading? The Aeneid. I’ve read the Illiad, the Odyssey, but never the third (Roman) part.

  5. Andrew

    Please tell me you’ve read Killing Yourself to Live, not a novel, but deserving nonetheless.

    Also, relatively new, but you must read the Yiddish Policeman’s Union. Best thing I’ve read in a long time.

    And I’ve never read any of the books listed, but I did read Sslaughterhouse Five, which was very good.

  6. I recently bought Anna Karenina and can’t manage to get past the first four pages.

    I need Cliff’s Notes on that shit.

  7. haven’t read any of those.

  8. I haven’t read any of those. Well. I want to think that I read Lord of the Flies in school, but who knows. I have no rewind capability on my life.

    I saw the movie version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Twice actually, although the second time was accidental and I was on pain medication.

  9. Wow. I haven’t read any of those either. I make a poor showing as a English major.

  10. ren

    i’ve read 2-5. i don’t care for 2 and have no interest in reading 1. there are probably better books to fill in the gaps but these are standards, that said, “standard” isn’t the same as “good” or “entertaining” or “not written by a white dude.”

  11. jer

    I’ve read 1 and 2. 1 is a good read and makes one nostalgic for days of drug consumption and 2 makes plainly clear that the fat kid with glasses always gets picked on. That’s about it.

  12. Breakfast of Champions, to be sure. The rest, eh.

  13. I can’t vouch for the movies (though I disliked Fear and Loathing – The Movie) but definitely read Fear and Loathing – The Book. Great read.

    I may have read Breakfast years ago…I know I read other Vonnegut books which were OK.

    Read Lord of the Flies in high school. Ehh.

    For some reason I’m thinking Sound and Fury and Heart would be dull reads. But then I’m sort of lowbrow.

  14. I forgot how to read. Books that is. Let me know how it goes. And if any of those have pictures. I am somewhat ashamed to admit I’ve never heard of two of those.

  15. Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72 is also totally stellar. But I’ll tell you what. Just read “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” and you’ll know whether or not to continue your HST studies… very short, very informative of style.

  16. I really loved The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. For a debut novel of a young 20-something, it’s quite poignant. I liked her novella, The Ballad of the Sad Cafe too. I read Lord of the Flies and it was good but that was back in high school.

  17. Lord of the Flies – Worth the read.

    Fear and Loathing is worth seeing. The book is over rated IMHO. Terry Gilliam, come on!

  18. i am with “dave” – definitely read something by Dr. Thompson – doesn’t necessarily have to be fear & loathing in las vegas. he was a true pioneer of literary journalism and a damn good read. the bastard.

  19. Paul L.

    My goodness, consider all the sand that is washed away by the tiny waves of time! For heaven’s sake, man, go and get yourself a copy of Breakfast of Champions and read the suckuh! You, of all people, will adore that book.

    Use the others on that list to hold up the wobbly end of the coffee table.

    With the exception, of course, of the first half of Fear and Loathing. Fortunately, most editions’ spines are perforated right around that midpoint.

  20. Ryan

    Fear & Loathing is a superb book if you have ever ingested or considered ingesting any type of drug. I doubt my parents would appreciate it. As far a drug lit goes, it sure beats the hell out of “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.” As noted, “The Kentucky Derby is…” is an amazing piece. I did not hate the film adaptation, but Depp was believable as the HST character.

    Breakfast of Champions is a nice read. But my personal pantheon has Slaughterhouse Five as the obvious classic and Mother Night as, by far, my favorite.

    And as far as old white dudes writing stuff, though most of us have been taught otherwise over the last couple of decades, the virtuosity should not be denied. I’ll attribute it to leisure time.

    BTW, War and Peace is far and away the best 1/3 of a book I have EVER read.

  21. I have never read The Great Gatsby but have referenced it in conversation multiple times. Maybe I’ll get the CliffsNotes to lend my fake, uninformed argument more legitimacy.

  22. I think the only one I’ve read is Lord of the Flies, and only because it was required reading in school.

  23. Tag

    You should own all of the above. Shame on those who don’t.

    Hell, you should have Vonnegut’s complete works in my opinion. His best pieces (other than Slaughter House Five) are Goodbye Mr. Rosewater and Time Quake. Breakfast of Champions is solid but not my favorite.

    Also a MUST READ OWN: Henry Miller’s “Air Conditioned Nightmare”

    Don’t even hesitate, buy it. Read it. Then try to tell me anything has changed since 1938.

    :-)

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