Reading the classics for enjoyment
Reading the classics, for most people, isn’t considered fun. For some it’s boring, some mandatory, some downright annoying; but for readers like me the classics can be invigorating, exciting, and downright fun.
Classic books can be full of surprises, too. For instance, I put off reading Moby Dick because I listened to comments by others and because I didn’t think I’d get a big kick out of reading about some old whaling guy’s obsession with a whale. I could not have been more wrong.
I had no idea Herman Melville was a funny guy. Nor was I expecting the chapters to be so short. (Shrug.) Who knew? Thanks to the Moby Dick Big Read event earlier this year, I finally discovered the joy of good old Moby.
Must read classic books
Here are two must-reads when it comes to classic books. Now I’ve never been much of a Jane Austen lass so my favorites may be quite different from most. That said, I think these books qualify as great summer reading classics.
The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
I fell in love with Edgar when I was about eleven years old and, as with most first loves, he’s remained a constant in my heart. Though I confess I’m not much of a poet lover, his poems do speak to me. His short stories like The Tell Tale Heart reek of the senses and are hard to put down. You are in Poe’s world, he is in your mind and together you tred the landscape you both create. So, yes, I recommend Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
I recently reread The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and found it as relevant today as it must have been in its time. I was struck by how much Wilde’s writing reminded me of movies with its strong visual narrative coupled by equally strong dialogue. Oscar Wilde is well worth reading, and Dorian Gray is a good place to start.
Reading the classics on a road less traveled
The Revolt of the Angels
When I was young, I read The Revolt of the Angels and the story has lingered like a faint scent, teasing my memory. It’s a shame that Anatole France is not read much anymore, after all, he was a Nobel Prize laureate. Imagine an angel who leaves heaven and comes to earth to steal books from the great libraries. What comes of all this reading, you might ask, well, nothing less than a revolt in heaven.
An easy to read classics book
If you are a book lover or a writer who has never read the classics, I would highly recommend Xingu. Written in 1916 by Edith Wharton, it is funny, funny, funny, and one that has a delightful twist at the end. People are people whether they are from our time period or any other. Best of all, it is short with only 48 pages and an Amazon free Kindle download.
The case for reading the classics
So, do I think the classics get a bad wrap? Definitely. Are there works out there that are difficult and require more from us as a reader? Sure, but reading the classics is not like swimming in a small pond in the backyard. It’s an ocean. It’s multiple oceans with locks and channels and ways for us to swim from one body of water to another so that we are continually sumberged in the thoughts of deep thinkers who are great writers with an enviable ability to translate their thoughts into marvelous stories; stories that have captivated readers for generations. Why ignore the opportunity?
Join me and all the others who make up The Classics Club for your own five-year odyssey marked by great writers, fantastic landscapes, and fertile minds. What a journey; best of all, you don’t have to go it alone.
My 5-year list is 50+ books in 5 years. Here is my classic reading list with quite a number of rereads. They’re just that good.
In the meantime, for those attending this year’s Armchair BEA, let’s have a great time as we explore more genres, share more books, and get to know one another.