Hi, everyone! It’s me again. I hope you’ve had a happy bookish weekend. Before I begin with today’s post, I want to take this opportunity to personally thank everyone who made me feel welcome in the book blogging community. I’m so thankful for your comments and for following my blog.
I’m not much of a talker in real life, but your kind words have encouraged me to find my voice. And it has helped me find the courage to express my views on this blog…
Which leads me to today’s topic – the reasons why I want to read the classics.
As you may have read on my blog intro/2019 goals, I want to rediscover the classics in the coming year. I thought I should talk more about this and what I hope to accomplish on my blog. I also want to know what others in the book community think about such issues and so here I am, writing about it. Let’s get the ball rolling, shall we?
First Things First
I think it’s sad but we can’t deny that there’s a certain stigma attached to reading the classics. Personally, I’ve always been intimidated at the thought of reading classic literature. There are many reasons behind this but I think it was my fear of being book-shamed that kept me from pursuing this goal in the past. Even if I was genuinely curious about reading classic titles, I didn’t think I would fit in.
I thought that you needed to be smart – or at least behave like an intellectual who reads the books and studies the text in detail. You need to reach a certain level of literacy before you can be considered as someone who can appreciate “real” literature. In short, it’s not the most relaxing place to be in. And I’m someone who reads to relieve myself of stress.
I’m pretty sure that the classics-loving book community is a lot more accommodating and friendlier than what I imagine. Sadly, there’s still no escaping all the book shaming that happens ever so often. But I guess it’s present in every genre – there’s always that one person who will tell you that you are not a very good reader. The thing is, I think the classics genre is one area in the book community where most of the shaming happens.
So I guess the number one reason why I want to read the classics is that I want to fight back. I want to regain my reading confidence and just read whatever I want without the fear of being judged.
Age Doesn’t Matter
I’m 27 and for more than half of my life, all I’ve ever read was YA and middle-grade fiction. I’ve read my fair share of “crappy” literature and I do not regret it at all. At least now I can distinguish the differences between a good book and a book that’s just for laughs.
Reading YA and middle-grade was OK as a teenager. But it seems like as an adult, reading lower than your expected level isn’t something praiseworthy.
I’ve only recently begun reading adult mystery and fantasy, and I’m aware that I have a lot of catching up to do compared to others who have read the books at a younger age. We all know that the feeling of being left behind isn’t great. Every time a new title comes up, that’s another book added to the massive TBR pile.
In addition to this, there will always be some people who will question your reading history. Comments like, “why haven’t you read this?” doesn’t help.
Through this blog, I want to tell my readers that it’s okay even if you’re behind. Read at your own pace. Read books whether or not it is appropriate for your age. You’re not missing out on anything.
That said, another reason why I want to read the classics is due to the fact that they are timeless. Although the themes and language are better understood with more advanced reading skills, the morals of the stories are for all ages.
It’s Like Candy And Wine
For the most part, age doesn’t matter when it comes to reading. But in some ways, it does matter. Let me explain… I like to think of YA and middle-grade as candy, and classics or adult fiction as wine. Kids love candy but it doesn’t mean that adults can’t enjoy it too.
Wine, on the other hand, is a bit different. Kids only know what adults tell them – wine is good, wine is valuable, and wine is best shared with friends. As kids become adults, they will learn why that is. But they need to grow up first in order to understand it fully.
Of course, some kids grow older faster than the others. And since classic literature and adult fiction have no age restrictions like alcohol, kids can freely access those more advanced books. But just because some kids do it, it doesn’t mean that every child should.
However, many people think that reading is all about moving up a level. And it’s true, books are designed to challenge the reader. But choosing what to read is always the reader’s personal choice. As an adult, there are days when I feel like having candy and on other days, I would prefer wine. It’s as simple as that.
So another reason why I want to read the classics to practice my freedom of choice. I’ll read what I want when I want. Enough said.
Classics = Real Literature?
Some people say that the classics are real literature, anything else does not have the same quality. But I’m not a fan of this definition. Rather than “real”, I would choose the term “rich” instead. I’m a huge believer of stories having the power to move others – no matter if they are one of the classics or not.
The problem is when people devalue “lower-level” books. Let me use my candy analogy again for this one. For me, books that are easier to consume are your regular chocolate bar which you can easily find in the candy shop. Classic literature is the gourmet version of it.
They’re both chocolate, they’re both very good. But just because the other seems more expensive and artisanal than the other, it doesn’t make the cheaper one bad at all. To me, chocolate is chocolate and I’d have both if I can.
That said, I want to read the classics because I want to understand a richer, deeper form of literature. But at the same time, I will never say no to a plain old chocolate bar.
They’re Classics For A Reason
I enjoy reading book reviews A LOT. I love reading the opinions of other readers about the book they’ve read, and sometimes, their reviews help me decide whether or not I want to read a certain book. But let’s be honest – sometimes, it’s hard to find reviewers who share the same tastes as you do. Classics must be classics for a reason. Of course, I know I won’t enjoy all of them. But it’s always a good place to start.
So there you have it – my reasons for wanting to read the classics. I guess they’re mostly about encouraging readers who want to dive into an intimidating genre. And I hope the readers of my blog can gain some confidence to read whatever they want, despite what others may think.
Now, it’s your turn. Are there books or genres which you find intimidating? Have you ever experienced book shaming in the past? Share your stories with me – I’d love to hear them!