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Reading the classics for fun – Armchair BEA

This entry is part 2 of 17 in the series Armchair BEA 2013 - 2014

Reading the classics for enjoyment

Reading the classics is fun and full of surprises.

Every book has a surprise.

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?

Reading the classics with a community of fellow readers is a great experience. 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.

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  • Emma @ Words And Peace

    funny I usually associate classics with big fat books, and I do love big fat books! Never heard of Xingu before, thanks for sharing!

  • Adam

    Wonderful thoughts! And thanks for showing love for The Classics Club! I’m so glad to see it being mentioned on so many posts today! Moby-Dick was a trudge, for me, but I really did walk away from it with great appreciation. My favorite Melville, though, is The Confidence-Man. So good.

  • Vikk Simmons

    Emma, Gee, why would I think big fat books were your thing? Could it be War and Peace? I’m not surprised as I think most people assume all classics are huge and cumbersome but they aren’t. There are quite a few fairly short works that are considered major classical material. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks, Adam, and thanks for stopping by. I think The Classics Club has been a great idea and wonderful group and it’s so nice to find others who love the classics, too. Isn’t funny how we respond so differently to various books. I have to say that I might have had the same opinion of Moby during my younger years. As a writer I couldn’t help but appreciate so much of what he did. (I’ll have to check out The Confidence-Man. Thanks!)

  • Suey

    I’m still a bit nervous about Moby-Dick. Hmmm.. I need to try is sometime though. I would love to be able to say at the end like that it was awesome! Great suggestions here! Some I’ve never heard of and will keep my eye open for.

  • Emma @ Words And Peace

    I have read of Mice And Men in the category of thin classic books, but most of the classics are definitely thicker, as you can go deeper in the characters, etc. I gave up on War And Peace, but my goal this year is to read ALL of In Search of Lost Time!