Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

Far From The Madd(en)ing Crowd

A photograph of a copy of Far From The Madding Crowd

In my teens I decided I would never read Far From The Madding Crowd. We had studied it in English Lit, read only half together, and that was enough for me. It bored me greatly, as did the old TV adaptation we watched. (I’m not sure we finished that either but it was the reason for one of my most prominent memories – my teacher pausing the tape to comment on the swoon-worthy eyes of an actor.) This was a book I was uninterested in and couldn’t relate to. For years the name of it made me recall old, tattered, laminated green paperbacks.

Even when I started getting into classics on my own steam I had no mind to read it. I still remembered the boredom, the way I’ve never liked Juliet Stevenson because I remembered, wrongly, that she’d played Bathsheba (it was actually Julie Christie).

But I have a burgeoning love for Carey Mulligan; I watched the trailer for the new adaptation. I read an article which laughed at Katniss sharing Bathsheba’s surname and spoke of the latter’s agency. I read The Awakening.

So, I’m afraid, I’m going to have to disappoint my teenage self. Dear teenage me, I have a copy – nice, not laminated – of that book and I intend to read it, all of it. I’m going against your decision but with good reason.

It was the wrong time before; I’m old enough now. I’m looking forward to the book I used to hate.

Have you avoided any books due to English Lit classes? And did you give them another go later on/do you plan to?



June 12, 2015, 3:22 am

The only book I remember avoiding was Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, which is his memoir about traveling around the country in an RV I think, with his dog. Now this sounds like something I would enjoy reading, as well as doing myself. I didn’t avoid it because of the author or concept, it was because this particular teacher had us read several books earlier in the year that I hated and I just didn’t trust her anymore. I didn’t even crack the spine! Hopefully I will try it someday.

Alex (Sleepless Reader)

June 12, 2015, 9:47 am

Far from the Madding Crowd is actually my favorite Hardy (probably because it’s the only that doesn’t end in tragedy?). What you describe is one of the reasons why I didn’t studied literature in college. Was afraid it would put me off many books!


June 12, 2015, 6:05 pm

In high school we read Thomas Hardy’s short story ‘The Withered Arm’. It was so depressing I avoided Hardy’s work for years. In fact the only other work of his I have read is Far From the Madding Crowd which I read after leaving university and loved it. I hope you enjoy it more this time around.

Jenny @ Reading the End

June 13, 2015, 8:00 pm

There are some books I’ve avoided because of hating them in English class (and many more I’ve loved because of loving them in English class), but I stand by all my decisions. I regret nothing. The Things They Carried IS untenably depressing. The Killer Angels IS super duper duper duper boring. I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG.


June 13, 2015, 9:44 pm

I love Thomas Hardy but I’ve only started to read his books in the last few years, so I’m not sure if I would have liked him as a teenager. We had to read The Pearl by John Steinbeck at school and it completely put me off wanting to read any more of Steinbeck’s books. I can’t even remember why I disliked it so much – I will have to give him another chance eventually!

Laurie C

June 14, 2015, 12:00 am

I guess I avoided Thomas Hardy, because I don’t think I’ve read any of his books!


June 14, 2015, 6:04 pm

I haven’t avoided many books because of school – and I didn’t study lit at uni. But, I’ve definitely got books I’ve made a decision not to read based on some assumptions. Hardy is actually one of them. I just don’t want to read them and be sad. Which is a silly reason really.

Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

June 17, 2015, 2:23 am

A quarter century on I’m finally ready to tackle some of the authors I hated in school. I think I was just too young for many of them. Right now it’s Henry James and Virginia Woolf — I always avoided them as impenetrable but am finding them surprisingly readable, at least the books I’ve tried so far. Good luck with Hardy!


July 21, 2015, 7:00 pm

Elizabeth: That’s fair enough; you read a number of those she recommended to no enjoyment.

Alex: I understand that completely! GCSE was enough to put me off reading classics.

Jessica: I remember reading that, though gladly I don’t remember the content. I hope my (next) experience of ‘Crowd mirrors yours, in this case!

Jenny: I’m glad you liked some because of the class, and not just disliked. That’s a fair balance. Hehe!

Helen: That’s an interesting thought, and certainly some books better lend themselves to older ages (those we aren’t at school…) I hope you like Steinbeck if/when you re-read him!

Laurie: !

Alice: I think it’s a good reason – if you want to read happier books, why shouldn’t you? Though yes, if your assumptions are wrong that’s something else.

Lory: Yes, that’s my thought too: age. They weren’t written for children, after all!



Comments closed