Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Les Miserables

Ever put off reading a classic for no reason other than you just hadn’t gotten around to it yet? Or perhaps you’ve seen a movie or stage play version of a well known story and figured the book probably wasn’t that different? Once in a while, ever have a book not only live up to all the hype about it, but actually exceed your expectations?

I recently read Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables for the first time…I know, shameful that it took me this long to get around to it…but wow, what a story! I was genuinely moved by the altruistic priest at the beginning of the novel, as well as caught up in the thrilling cat-and-mouse game between Jean Valjean and Javert. What particularly impressed me about Les Mis, was not only its great plot, but its moral and ethical questions which constantly forced me to rethink my thoughts about life and death, and right and wrong. In short, if you haven’t read this classic cover to cover, seek out a copy today!

What books unexpectedly inspired you or changed your perspective of the world? Or perhaps, what classic have you been meaning to read and not gotten around to yet for one reason or another? Any literary New Years resolutions in the works?


  1. I loved reading Les Miserables. The play and musical score are wonderful, too.
    It took me a long time to get through War and Peace. It wasn't my favorite book, but at least I can say I read it!
    Best wishes to you in 2012!

  2. I've never read the book, but I saw the play during a visit to London many years ago.
    Not a 'classic,' but I read A Perfect Storm after seeing the movie and the book was completely different - and excellent.

  3. We were required to read Hamlet TWICE in AP English my senior year in High School.

    Once was enough :)

    I should really try and read more classics. Maybe some day...

  4. I haven't read Les Miserables yet, but awhile back I did read two classics for the first time that I'd heard about forever: Don Quixote and The Three Musketeers, and I loved both of them. I was researching Don Quixote for a story I was writing, and was so surprised that this ancient work was so funny. I laughed out loud many, many times. The Three Musketeer movies (so many of them) have always grabbed me, but I was delighted with the writing when I finally read it last summer. I'm glad you reminded me of these two books.

  5. I have an English degree, so I've always loved the classics. But amazingly, the series of books I have NOT read is the Lord of the Rings.

    Even I have a tough time admitting that!

  6. I haven't read it. I admit. I really loved Count of Monte Cristo and Candide. Both great classics. I'd love to read more.

  7. I saw on Goodreads you were reading that. It's a monster of a book, but it still holds up. I heard they're making yet another movie version due out soon.

    I love classic literature, but there are lots I haven't read yet. I still haven't read half of Charles Dickens' books. I'd like to tackle Bleak House and David Copperfield before too long.

    Happy New Year!

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  9. I remember freaking my teachers out in high school toting around the unabridged Les Mes. Someday I will resume trying to get through Two Years Before the Mast. That book is exhausting and frustrating despite coming out at the same time as Captain Hornblower series.

  10. I read Les Miserables a few summers ago; despite its size (and despite the fact he the author goes off on tangents) it is one classic I enjoyed reading.

    I keep meaning to get around to Anna Karenina--I want to do that this year.

  11. I used to teach senior English. Les Miserables stunned them every time. Great blog you have. I followed you over from Alex's blog, Roland

  12. I downloaded that audiobook. It's something I've always meant to read. The dang thing's a behemoth--six sections.

  13. There are so many classics I'd like to read, but the problem is there are so many current books I want to read.

  14. I seriously need to read this one. Crime and Punishment is one I thought I'd never read, but it was really something, and I'm glad I finally read it.

  15. I read Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamozov" a few years ago and absolutely loved it--whatever translation I have was just absolutely beautiful.

    I've thought about reading Les Miserables since I was a little girl... I loved the musical and have seen it a few times in a few countries, but I remember a friend telling me he went off on 6-page tangents about candle making and other such business... But maybe that would be a good thing, I mean, as of this moment I know very little about candle making, right?

  16. I've just started the Brothers Karamazov. Everyone says its great (even here), so... I'll let you know how it goes (I may be some time).

    Moody Writing
    The Funnily Enough

  17. I'm glad you mentioned Les Miserables because it is one book I have on my to-be-read list and I still haven't gottne around to it! Seriously, there are so many boks to read and not enough time to read them all in one sitting! Good to know that it is wonderful. I love reading classics, much more than contemporary novels (though those ones have their charm as well). My husband has a whole collection of classic books (lucky me!) and I go back time and time again to revisit my favorites. One thing I need to read this year is The Giver and The Great Gatsby. Come to think of it, I better head to the library and get them now before I forget!

  18. *gotten

    (Sorry for the typo. It's what happens when you have a 3-year-old who's trying to get you off the computer.) :)

  19. What books have changed my perspective on the world. Well, I'm embarrassed to say that a relatively little known science fiction novel called Ring, by Stephen Baxter, changed the way I looked at the universe. It would take too long to explain, but it was a big deal to me.

    I've tried some of the classics too, but finding one that I love is a rare exception for me. You aren't the first person to tell me that Les Miserables was excellent though. I'll read it one day.

  20. Mark, I have not yet read this book, but I have been thinking that I should get a copy of it now. There are many classics I haven't yet read, I wonder if I will ever get the time to read them all.

  21. Forgot to say..I am glad that you feel that the stories look good. Waiting for your detailed feedback :)

  22. Emily – My wife loves the musical too. Congrats on _War and Peace_, I read it myself, mainly to see what all the hype was about. It was long in some spots, but really good in others:)

    Alex – That’s rad that you saw the play in London. Interesting about Perfect Strom, I did not know that.

    Kelley – The classics rock! Plus, I like Hamlet:)

    Elizabeth – _Don Quixote_ is great and I absolutely love _The Three Musketeers_. I think you’ll like Les Miz:)

    Jay – Ok, better go to LOTR first;) You definitely want to get that read:)

    Miranda – Both awesome books! I heartily agree:)

    L.G. – I didn’t hear about the new movie version. I like the Geoffrey Rush/Liam Neeson version.

    Stephanie – I like _Two Years Before the Mast), but I’m also a sailor, and there’s a lot of sailor jargon in there that most people might not get.

    Eagle – Anna Karenina is great too, and like Les Miz it goes off on tangents, but sometimes that’s the best part:)

    Roland – Power to you for teaching English! One of the most important subjects in my book (no pun intended).

    Donna – It is big, but if you read a little bit every day it goes pretty fast.

    McKenzie – There are literally more than can be read, but that’s the challenge and half the fun:)

    Milo – _Crime and Punishment_ rocks as well. If you like that, try _The Brothers Karamazov_.

    Lauren – I think you’ve got the right attitude regarding candle-making;) Seems like you’ve got a good grasp of both French and Russian lit:)

    Mooderino – It’s a good one, enjoy!

    Cherie – Def worth getting around to. I think you’ll like the Great Gatsby as well:) Good luck with the 3-yeard-old;)

    Rusty – I’ll have to check out the book you suggest. A good book is a good book, regardless of whether it’s well-known or not:)

    Rachna – I think you’ll dig it. Also, I just sent you an email about your short-stories, thanks for the great read!

  23. I know there are a few classics I've meant to read for quite some time, but none popped into my head. I need to try a Jane Austen book. I want to read The Red Badge of Courage and Moby Dick when they aren't forced on me by school.