Question of the Week #28: For Adults Only
Can you remember your first "adult" book--that is, the first serious, "classic" book you read? Which book marked your transition to literary adulthood? What do you think of it now?
I clearly remember reading "Gone with the Wind" when I was quite young--4th grade. I was horrified by the ending---so much so that I literally threw the book across the room. It is because of GWTW that I--to this day--read the ending of every single book, and make sure that I know the ending of every movie before I see it. I hate to be surprised. My friends think I'm nuts, but it's a firm rule with me. All because of the unresolved ending of that great American classic.
Jun 8, 2009 10:10 pm
"The Power & The Glory" by Grahame Greene. First time in my life, I kept thinking deeper & deeper into the characters depicted. Their weaknesses were of more interest than their strengths, especially the wiskey priest & I continue to this day to enjoy it more everytime I read it.
Jun 9, 2009 1:54 am
Probably 1984 by George Orwell. I read it with Aldous Huxley's Brave New World for an English essay on dystopian futures (back before I even knew the word dystopian). I had to pick any two books and write about them.
I cannot remember why I picked 1984 but my dad suggested Huxley for the second one.
I remember them both very clearly, even though it is 20 years since I read them, but I have never read them again. Something about them unsettled me in a way that I have never been able to put my finger on.
I am sure if I re-read them now I would not have the same reaction but the memory of them is more powerful by not re-reading.
Jun 9, 2009 8:53 am
In middle school I discovered Jane Austen's books and read them, but "Wuthering Heights" and "Madame Bovary" in high school stand out in my mind as the first of my mature reading. It's like Austen was my harmless gateway drug.
Jun 9, 2009 9:06 pm
Kurt Vonnegut's Brreakfast of Champions
Jun 11, 2009 12:02 pm
I read 20000 Leagues Under the Sea when I was about nine or ten. I loved the way the language worked in that book - everything was so intricate and somewhat exhausting, but it started a lifelong love affair with the classics. I read Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, George Eliot, Dickens, Melville - though I didn't really get into Jane Austen until recently and I've fallen in love with Pride and Prejudice.
Jun 11, 2009 12:09 pm
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, freshman year, was the first classic I read in which I saw and understood symbolism, deeper literary allusions beyond the face of the plot, etc. I have mixed feelings about Hemingway now, but still love that one, and it hooked me for a lifetime on literary fiction.
Jun 11, 2009 12:11 pm
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA for me as well. 4th grade. My overambitious mother yanked me away from my beloved BABYSITTERS CLUB series and I was like WTF, this old man is hella boring. I'd like to believe that my reading tastes are more refined now and I love me some Hemingway.
Jun 11, 2009 12:28 pm
@psycheinaboat I wonder if you are the first person to think of Jane Austen as a gateway drug.
@ErynnIm I love your post! Hilarious. I had a hard time letting go of the Babysitters' Club too. And the Clue books.
Jun 11, 2009 4:04 pm
by MaggieH (admin)
Mine was Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca (does that count as a classic?) I skipped the first chapter (at my mother's recommendation), and then I was off and running. Still one of my favorite books.
Jun 11, 2009 6:42 pm
by susandanziger (admin)
I read Christy by Catherine Marshall when I was seven. I don't know if that counts as a classic, but it's definitely an adult book. I wonder if I should reread it now, because I hear these things about it that I don't quite remember! I was quite proud of reading a 500 page book back then. :D
Jun 11, 2009 11:09 pm
I think mine was probably Gone with the Wind as well--I remember reading an old copy we had in our house soon after I watched the movie for the first time. I think I was still a little too young because I was far more interested in the Scarlett O'Hara Barbie doll I got for my birthday than in the book!
Jun 12, 2009 9:03 pm
by MaggieH (admin)
I'm like terpsgirl102. My first adult book isn't considered a classic, but I was just a young, young girl reading children's books when I discovered Old Yeller in my parents bedroom. Old Yeller is a dog and I loved the book and astonished myself at the end that I had actually read a book written to entertain adults.
Jun 14, 2009 10:48 pm
Jane Eyre for me. I was about eleven or twelve. I saw something on a show I frequently watched with my mom and she told me it was like Jane Eyre. Well, that intrigued me enough. I picked up the book and ran with it, and it was wonderful. For a while, it was my favorite book. It made me interested in classics, and, after a while, very few books but classics. Though it has been overshadowed as favorite by a few books since, it's still one of the most beautiful romances to me.
Jun 15, 2009 12:16 am
Cresswga - I'm with you. I read 1984 a couple of weeks ago. It disturbed me a bit. I'm just a happy ending person. I misread the last line looking ahead. You can't imagine how disappointed I was. It did make me thankful for a lot of things, though.
Jun 15, 2009 12:23 am
@Sunshiny I think Old Yeller is a classic.
I think, for me, it was probably Jane Eyre, Rebecca, or The Sound and The Fury. My mom loved Faulkner, so I wanted to see what she was excited about.
Jun 15, 2009 1:26 pm
psycheinaboat - Lovely to see your description of Jane Austen as your h
This has been a real comfort read to me since my late teens (I'm now 56).
Jun 19, 2009 4:21 am
psycheinaboat - Lovely to see your description of Jane Austen as your harmless gateway drug.
This has been a real comfort read to me since my late teens (I'm now 56). Whenever I feel unhappy, I start one of the novels again. there's something very relaxing about the stories and her writing style.
Sorry about the above messed up posting - the computer is quicker than me!
Jun 19, 2009 4:46 am
Once again it was "Gone with the Wind" for me. I read it in 8th grade and I couldn't believe the ending. I didn't really think about it being an "adult" book at the time, but I suppose that was the first one. I read it before I saw the movie. The next one after that was "Great Expectations" for freshman high school english.
Aug 7, 2009 1:00 am
I remember reading "On The Road" when I was 13. Mostly because I was really into The Doors and Jim Morrison.
But if you wanna talk "adult", it would be "Tropic Of Cancer" by Henry Miller and soon after "Delta Of Venus" by Anis Nin. . .And I was in high school by then. And just like @annaj312 I was pretty mortified myself knowing that Miller and Nin wrote those books during conventional times. Then again, Nin was French and Miller was. . .well. . .You know.
Aug 7, 2009 7:53 pm
I don't know about classic, but the first banned (at one time) book, was Lady Chatterly's Lover; which I read at age 14 and thought I was oh so grown-up to be reading it.
Aug 8, 2009 8:37 am
I think it's "Gone with me ".I ready it for two days,when i was 14.But now when i fell upsite or something elsa, i will remenber it.It gives me brave and belief
Aug 8, 2009 8:43 am
Gone with the Wind 7th Grade, however, the one that stands out the most from the early years is Lord of the Flies 8th grade. Still.
Aug 11, 2009 4:54 pm
I read 1984 in 8th grade for school and thought it was just way too adult for me--it kind of soured me on a lot of contemporary classics.
The first books that shaped my love of trashy books were "Til We meet again" by Judith Krantz and "So Worthy, My Love" by Kathleen Woodiwiss--both were my grandmother's! I learned things from that Krantz book that scarred me for years! But Woodiwiss definitely sparked a love for trashy historical fiction that continued on for years!
May 3, 2010 3:37 pm
My fourth and fifth grade teachers made us read a lot of the Charles Dickens novels for class and I hated them. I don't think I was too young, so much as I think the teachers didn't know how to make things interesting for us.
In Eighth grade/middle school, I had a much better teacher. We re-read two of Dickens's works, "Dracula" and "All Quiet on the Western Front." I can't remember which one came first, but I do remember that our teacher would always bring in a new watercolor picture every Monday, painted by his wife the weekend before. She wasn't shy about painting out some of the uglier bits (like Lucy Westenra's death or the battlefield dead on the Western Front), and that kept all of us wondering what was coming up next, both in the story, and for the next painting.
May 5, 2010 9:50 pm