Though best known as a musical (and perhaps as a film), Les Miserables was first published as a book in 1862. In fact, it’s the 17th longest novel ever written.
Filled with chapter-long discourses on morality, French history, and society, it’s a hard read. But it’s worth it. Nestled in among the (boring) discourses, the (epic) story, and the (stunning) characters are many insightful and beautiful reflections on suffering, human life, and God.
I know almost no one who as read this book; I am currently two-thirds of the way through, after over six months of working my way through it! Most people I recommend it to say that it’s too long, they can just see the film or musical, they don’t like French stories, etc etc. But Les Miserables is one the most beautiful books I have ever read; Victor Hugo, the author, manages to capture the suffering and misery of our human condition without losing the beauty and charity that also exists there. To quote the ‘holy Bishop’ from the story:
‘The beautiful is as useful as the useful.’ He added after a pause, ‘More so, perhaps.’
So I challenge you: read Les Miserables! You can even get it for free, legally. Seriously, what excuse do you have?