I managed to avoid reading most classic literature while in school (God bless public schools!) which I used to be almost proud of. Who really wants to read Faulkner anyway? It seemed so dense and impenetrable.
Perhaps it was I who was too dense to figure it out. I'm generally curious and would like to give the classics a shot but it's a daunting prospect.
Even with all this unread "great literature" available I'm still reluctant to dive right in. Which books are great stories and which are just great examples of a certain writing style or an illustration of the period in which they were written? I like to write but I don't have any interest (currently) in reading for style. And while histories are great, I hate period pieces so I don’t read for atmosphere either.
I read for story, cleverly told if possible.
I just finished a wonderful example of this (and a classic to boot):
Slaughterhouse Five (or The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance With Death) by Kurt Vonnegut.
It's great and is especially poignant considering we are at war.
Plus the guy writes like John Cowart (or maybe John Cowart writes like Vonnegut) so it seemed familiar and friendly.
What are your favorite literature "classics?" What do you think my next read should be?