My Granddad "Da" gave me a book in 1986, Thomas Hardy's 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles', and it has sat on my bookshelf since then un-read. I think I tried to read it once but the language was a little to old-worldy for me and I just didn't get it.
Having read it now, I probably wasn't ready for it as an 11 year old. I actually just read it in around 5 days... I must say it is an amazing book although I was right in saying it is oldy-worldy... a lot of words ran past me and I think I need to read it again to pick up on a lot of other things in the story that I probably missed reading it so quickly. It is a tragedy and I can understand why it is a classic.
Definitely a great read for any girl / woman and guy (in fact the guy I sit next to at work read it twice in high schoold for English) and don't let the old words put you off... this book started as a series of newspaper submissions from the author that he peiced together for the book... a mish mash of quite a few chapters that he designed - it did all flow together nicely.