YOUR first encounter with great literature is always to be treasured, unless you were forced to read it by a twat teacher for an English Lit GCSE you failed. Like these:
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
A pair of tramps with memory problems hang out waiting for someone called Godot. He never shows up, and that’s bollocks to start with. The closest thing to an event is when two other people arrive, one an aggressive drunk and the other an idiot. Teenagers go through this every time they wait at a bus stop.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Fishing and old men are two of the dullest subjects possible, and Hemingway went and wrote a mash-up. The plot’s about a crap fisherman finally catching a fish. But it’s too big to put in his little boat, so he ties it alongside and sharks eat it all. The sentences are short. The book is short. But f**k it feels long.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Another story about old men and fishing, but at least this one’s about an old man hunting a sperm whale called Dick so there’s solid innuendo value. He probably catches the whale, or maybe not? Nobody’s ever finished it, not even the teacher.
Anything by Shakespeare
The plays are unreadable: that’s fact. If you’re lucky, you’re doing Romeo and Juliet so you get to watch the DiCaprio version. If you’re unlucky, you’re doing Twelfth Night and watching a low-budget 1980 BBC version with Felicity Kendal. For a 14-year-old this will be so horrifying alien an experience they will never go near Shakespeare again.
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
Getting assigned a Thomas Hardy book is the death of all hope. Even the pictures on the covers are achingly dull. This one’s about a bloke who sells his wife and becomes mayor. 18 years later she tracks him down, but this isn’t a cool revenge thriller like the Taken trilogy, they just hook up again.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Now this is more like it. Home Alone on a larger scale, this is the story of a load of kids lucky enough to get shipwrecked alone on an island who kick loose and have a massive party. Sure a few die, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. Buzzkill of an ending where adults arrive just as it’s getting really good.