I have always been a huge book worm. I was the kid in class who used to get yelled at for texting under my desk, and then would bring up a book instead of a phone. I just couldn’t help myself. My favorite class in high school was my AP English class senior year, taught by one of the best teachers I have ever had, Mr. Bud. This class made me love books I never would have fully appreciated had I read them on my own (Slaughterhouse 5 for example).
Mr. Bud and I used to talk about books all the time, but for all my reading, he always used to nag me about reading more “books of literary merit.” I used to fight him on it, and stuck to my escapist literature for the most part. It’s not that I didn’t want to read classics, I just never had outside of school. I had an association of classic literature and homework, and I read for entertainment. I was intimidated by the thought that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them.
Mr. Bud assigned a project where we had to choose our own “book of literary merit,” and do an old school book report. I chose Pride and Prejudice, because I felt it was an easy intro for reading classics, it was pretty short and non-intimidating, and most readers are big fans. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t love it, but what surprised me the most was that I didn’t hate it. I was able to enjoy myself while reading it, and I felt good when I finished it. This first step into the world of classic literature, opened my mind to the idea that maybe I could actually read classics for fun.
I’ve found that the biggest difference is that I have to really focus while reading a classic, and sometimes on a crowded, noisy subway, or backstage with music and scenes playing over the speakers, it can be hard to do. Because of this, I am still a little hesitant when I feel the urge to tackle a classic book, but I am setting a new goal for myself, and finally marking some off my list. I’m currently giving Jane Austen another try, and I am half way through Sense and Sensibility, which I’m enjoying.
With how much I read, I almost feel like a fraud for how small a dent I have made in my classic literature TBR list. I strive to be well-read, and I am finally understanding what Mr. Bud was trying to get me to do. These books are important, because they are good. I still have mixed feelings about classics in general, but I have found some that I have LOVED, and have become some of my favorite books (Jane Eyre comes to mind). I’ve also found some that I haven’t liked at all, and realized that just because it is considered a classic, does not mean that I have to like it. I might always have a stigma associated with classic literature, but the more of them that I read, the less intimidating they become, and that in itself is a victory in my book.
How do you feel about reading classics? Are they important to you? What are some of your favorites that you would recommend to a classic-newbie? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments! 🙂