Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thoughts About Classics

Let's talk about classics. Books like The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, and Great Expectations have long survived the test of time. They're the subject of many a high school English class, and as such are typically touted as books that people hate because they were "forced to read them." But why?
Why do people appreciate classics when they are read voluntarily but would alternately hate the exact same book if it was read for an assignment?

I've read many a classic, both back in school and voluntarily, and I think this all boils down to the fact that we don't really understand them. Classics are hard to read, simple as that, and because of that being forced to read them makes them seem even worse. The language is different, cultures and traditions are different, and it's hard for us to relate to the characters simply because we can't relate to their time period. Because of these things, we have to focus a lot harder while reading to understand what is going on and really grasp the concepts and the story line.

But I don't think it has to be this way. I love SO many classics, and I try to read a new one every month or two, not only to experience more books but to educate myself and learn. You can't go into reading a classic and expect it to be like picking up something like Harry Potter...you have to be mentally prepared for it. But if we start looking at classics for what they are, I think we can really learn to enjoy them and get more out of the overall reading experience.

Not into classics? Here are a few of my favorites for you to try that are easy to read, for either the writing itself, the length, or an amazing story that just sucks you in!
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • It's short and the writing is easy to read, plus the story is incredible!
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    • Another short one with an easily-relatable story!
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    • Short and an INSANE story!
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    • Ok, so this one is long as hell and hard to read, but the plot makes it worth it!
And here are some classics I have on my TBR because they look amazing:
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
What are your thoughts on classics, and do you have any favorites?

9 comments:

Dean S Muscat said...

Coincidentally I just re-read the Great Gatsby last week. What a magnificent novel. I literally plucked it off the shelf to re-read the opening passages, and by mid afternoon I was almost finished.

Tolstoy has been on my TBR list for a long time. Really need to get round to reading either Anna Karenina or War & Peace, but the 1000 pages of each always puts me off even though I know I will probably enjoy them a lot. Maybe I will try make one of these my Christmas reads.

DJ Sakata said...

My theory is the assigned books were analysed to death in class, I couldn't relax and enjoy them as I was fearful I was going to miss something and be ridiculed in class.

Terri said...

I taught high school English for twelve years. There is nothing more painful than dredging through a classic with a group of hormonal high school students. I've actually spent a lot of time talking about this with a friend who teaches college. I think so much of what is considered "classic" is now determined by what is tested on the Advance Placement Test. In regards to your list, The Scarlet Letter is one of my favorite books of all time.

Unknown said...

I have always been a fan of classics, but it has been years since I've read one. I like the idea of mixing one or two a month in with my normal reading. The Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice are my two favorites.

Gemma Jackson said...

I haven't read many classics and this is something I definitely need to rectify. I've read Animal Farm though and I would recommend it. I'm quite interested in children's classics though so I would really like to read a few more of them such as Peter Pan or Little Women.
Gemma @ www.gemmasbooknook.blogspot.com

Emily Chuah said...

I love classics! I'm in the middle of Anna Karenina right now and am enjoying it. I definitely think we should talk about classics more as bloggers, thanks for bringing it up!

Book Ink Reviews said...

Fun fact! I had a really high reading level in elementary school. And you had to read a book at your level for book reports. I totally did Scarlet Letter. I HATED it. And I still can't stand Pearl. But the story itself was great once I looked back as an adult.

Whispering Stories said...

I'm really bad when it comes to the classics, mainly down to the old language used and the need sometimes to google what a certain word means. From what I've heard about a lot of high school these days is that they are only reading British classics, which does mean missing a lot of fantastic books.

Whispering Stories said...

Meant to add that I'm in the UK, hence the British classics.