That book led me to other great works by Dostoyevsky: The Double, Notes from Underground, The Prince. It also led me to other great Russian writers: Pushkin, Tolstoy, Turgenev. I loved their introspection, how they burrowed into the human psyche and revealed so many profound yet simple truths. I learned to appreciate action isn't always physical, and you can learn from characters that you would never want to emulate.
I do love Shakespeare though not all of his works equally. Hamlet is probably the greatest play, Much Ado About Nothing makes a better read, but most everything is enjoyable if only for the music in the words. For similar reasons, Nietzsche's works all number among my favorites though Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a work of philosophy/poetry/story-telling that is unequaled as far as I'm concerned.
Mostly I like good tales, interesting stories that transport me to a time and place, such as Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea, Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Cervantes' Don Quixote. A little more modern fave's with a speculative twist are Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, and Douglass Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And a special shout out to Iain M. Banks, whose prose inspires me more than any other.
Pride and Prejudice is another one that never connected with me. Perhaps it's because I read it at the same time as Crime & Punishment, but the writing felt weak and the characters shallow in comparison. The truths it explored, the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy, held no interest for me. If these were real people I would leave their company and have nothing to learn from them.
And in spite of my love for the Russians, they also disappoint me on occasion. The Brother's Karamozov is a perfect example: I went in expecting to find another Dostoyevsky masterpiece but had no interest in the themes at play. And while I loved War and Peace, Anna Karenina was rather meh.
A few other 'classics' that left me uninspired: The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye (though I do love the title), The Scarlet Letter, The Grapes of Wrath, and most of Dicken's works. Atlas Shrugged impressed me in high school, but up re-reading it as an adult I found it's message and delivery rather unsophisticated. And Victor Hugo deserves a mention as someone who's held in a reverence I just don't understand.
So how about you all? Do you agree with my choices? Want to show me the error of my ways? I'd love to hear what resonates with others and why.