As is obvious by my previous post (The beginnings of a classics collection), I enjoy reading classics. I haven’t read many, yet, but it’s definitely something I’m working on.
I’ve noticed – and I know this from personal experience as well – that not only are people intimidated by the classics, often the people who read them can be considered snobbish and arrogant.
Although I can’t help with the second one (though if you think you’re better than someone else because you’ve been reading ~classics~, please leave, thanks), I can help with that sense of intimidation.
Because I get it. Classics have been around for a while. The pressure to read them can be strange, with at the same time that sense of “I need to read them because they’re Important” and “I don’t want to read them because they’re pretentious af”. That, combined with the often somewhat outdated language use, that impression that the books are difficult and ~literary~ and full of hidden meanings you need to properly study to understand. It’s scary.
And of course, it’s totally fine to not read them, for any reason or no reason at all! This isn’t a blogpost meant to force people into reading classics. I didn’t read classics for ages, and I was perfectly fine.
But I would like to say this: don’t put them aside because you’re scared of them, or intimidated by them, or because you don’t have a literary background or school was the absolute worst at teaching classics. Or, like mine, didn’t teach any classics to begin with.
Here’s a thing to consider: classics haven’t been around for this long because they’re difficult, or because of whatever literary merit (I mean, some have, but I’m not talking about those). Most classics have stuck around because they’re good, and because so many people enjoyed them that they kept passing the stories on. Like a legend, in a way.
To have so many people enjoy them, means several things: 1) it’s a good story, 2) it’s not difficult to read, and 3) it transcends time and culture – or gives a particularly good insight into a specific culture.
Take The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I know people go on and on about the green light and about how the book is about how terrible the Jazz Age really was. But in all honesty? It’s also just a good book with an interesting story that’s easy to read and keep up with. It’s also short, which is a bonus if you’re just starting out. But there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t enjoy the story even if you don’t know any of the background information or ways to interpret the story. Just have fun with it!
Because that’s what this is supposed to be about: about having fun. I personally like classics because they can really be fun. Humour isn’t a 21st century invention, and humanity hasn’t changed that much that a general sense of humour can’t go beyond time (Shakespeare, after all, wrote for the masses and has filled his plays with fart jokes and ‘your mum’ jokes.)
To get you started, here’s some recommendations of classics that I was surprised by and that turned out to be easy and fun to read (with the definition of ‘fun’ varying, just to get that out of the way):
Readers! Tell me in the comments below if you like to read classics or not, and why. (And remember, on this blog “just because” is a perfectly legit reason.) Also tell me your favourites! Let’s share the love ❤