Most of us have read at least a few of the classics. If you went to high school and took an English class, there’s a really good chance you read Romeo and Juliet, maybe Pride and Prejudice, and quite possibly Crime and Punishment. The classics were unavoidable in high school, and/or college if you took a lit. class, and you most likely disliked reading them because, let’s be real, some of them are really dry and boring. Now that I’ve lamented high school, let me tell you why I decided to put a hold on my modern novel reading to begin a classic literature journey!
I’m a book nerd (duh) and I was one of those weird people who enjoyed writing English papers (you can roll your eyes, I am too). I loved thinking critically and bouncing thesis ideas off my two equally nerdy friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t major in English in college and I only had to take one American Lit. class to fulfill a requirement. I was also too busy being a hippie and trying to save the earth to even think about taking a lit. class for fun (hindsight’s a bitch).
So while I was in high school and college, my book collection basically consisted of Fantasy and Romance (YA romance, historical romance, NA romance, you get the point…). My collection wasn’t overly original or diverse, but it was certainly sizable and has continued to grow in the year(?!) that I’ve been out of school. Since being out school, my collection has grown exponentially and I’ve been reading one to three books per week. I chalk this up to hating my job, hence needing an escape, and needing to use my brain more, since I no longer use it in school. The only problem with reading so many books is you basically read the same plot line over and over with varying degrees of bad writing. You can’t deny it, there is some seriously bad writing out there. I got SO tired of bad writing and unoriginal plots that I stopped reading altogether for about a week which, if you’re a book nerd, you know is a long time.
And then I saw some book porn on Instagram. If you follow any Bookstagram accounts, you see a lot of book porn. I saw the Jane Austen Penguin Clothbound collection and I knew I had to have it. The only problem was, I had only ever read Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, and Emma. That’s only half of Austen’s works and I couldn’t justify buying a $150 collection with only having read half of the books. So what choice did I have but to read them all? As I started to read Jane Austen, I remembered how much I enjoy actually thinking about books and how nice it is to fill my noggin with real knowledge (what a novel idea!). And then I started talking to my boss, who used to teach high school literature, and she started listing all the books I have to read after Austen. And guess what! The Penguin Clothbound Collection includes a crapton of other classics! So basically, book porn turned me on to the classics and now I’m determined to collect all the Penguin Clothbounds which means I actually need to read them.
On a more serious note, I’ve finally discovered what a BUNCH of booknerds before me discovered a long time ago: the classics are classics for a reason. They contain valuable information, characters, and situations that, more likely than not, can teach us something important. These books are well written and relevant to today despite many of them having been authored at least a century ago. So, if you’re tired of crappy writing and gag-worthy romance, try picking up Pride and Prejudice or Anna Karenina. And remember, it’s OK if these books take you a while, they deserve the time to be fully digested and reflected on! Austen’s books are taking me a full week each to read, which I found alarming at first, but I’m actually enjoying the slower pace.
Does anyone have any personal classic favorites? Let me know so I can add them to the ever-growing list! And remember, just because you’re not in school doesn’t mean you can’t continue to learn and challenge yourself! It took me a year to figure that out and I’m so glad I did!