In the past, I’ve detailed my disappointment with some widely-considered “classics”, which is why I sometimes approach similarly canonical books with apprehension. With a bad movie, at worst you can sit through it and it’s done in a few hours (although it may not seem so short). But with a book, it becomes a sort of masochistic ritual: returning each day to read more about characters you have no attachment to delivering dialogue that makes sense only in Bizzaro World.
The only book that really leaps to mind of fulfilling all of the above criteria is Dickens’ Great Expectations, which I was required to read in high school. I’m sure my mental conception of the book was strongly tainted by its being foisted upon me by cruel and uncaring English teachers, but it certainly holds a special spot in my memory for most unpleasant reading experience.
In many ways, the Lord of the Rings series is like this. Although it is a very deep and rich story in a very deep and rich world, actually reading every word of the books is a daunting task unhelped by Tolkien’s writing style.
This all made my recent finishing of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress rather surprisingly pleasant. As my father said, it is the most exciting novel about politics he’s ever read. There is a lot of minute detail that is skipped over because it is either boring or irrelevant; this omission is not even out of place given that the narrator and main character is, in the most positive sense, a hacker. It also covers some years, such that the story rarely stops moving — although Wikipedia informs me that quite a stretch of the book is taken up by one long discussion on one day. I wouldn’t have noticed on my own.
I suppose its a testament to Heinlein’s prolificacy that he was able to define such a rich world with a unique dialogue and rich history, and then leave it behind and move on to other books. Although other stories intersect this one tangentially, we never again meet the main characters of this story. I can’t see this as anything but good, given that the entire point of the book is that it is a revolution planned by otherwise normal people. Once everything was said and done, I’m sure the characters would be most content to just go home.
I’m having difficulty coming up with anything else to really say on the topic, which hasn’t been said better before, because this book is something of a high-profile classic. However, I think it will suffice to say that, if you don’t mind a bit of libertarian revolt against globalized socialism in your science fiction, you’ll agree it’s a book worth reading. You may also come to truly grok the word/phrase “TANSTAAFL.”