2016/10/22

BOOKISH REFLECTIONS:
TIPS ON READING CLASSICS

If there's one thing people ask me over and over, it is: how do you read classics? How do you get started? So today, I thought I would share some tips for reading them!


TIP #1
DON'T READ THEM IF YOU DON'T WANT TO
This is the most important thing in reading ANYTHING. If you don't want to, if it doesn't interest you, don't. You're not going to enjoy it. Contrary to popular belief, "classic" is not the only mark of quality and not all of them are equally good. If a book is not for you, it's not for you and that's fine.

You don't have to read everything and people who tell you otherwise are missing the point of reading books at all.

TIP #2
FIND THE RIGHT CLASSIC FOR YOU
When I really got into reading classics, I was surprised at how many books were counted under this genre. There are thousands of them! I have especially been surprised at how much variety there are in modern classics and short stories. 

If you're just getting started, try and find something in one of your favorite genres. If you like romance novels already, pick a romance novel. If you like fantasy, find a fantasy book etc etc. If you're not into reading War and Peace, don't.


TIP #3
IF YOU'RE CONFUSED, GOOGLE IT
I once decided I needed to read Inferno by Dante, because it's a "very important" classic. So I bought it, and man was I confused. The whole thing is written in verse and was for me very hard to follow, so I saw no choice but to google what was happening. This eventually led me to Sparknotes, and to be able to understand this book at all, I read one chapter and then the summary on there to make sure I got it all (which I usually hadn't).

Now, Inferno is probably one of the more difficult classics I've read, so the amount I had to look things up was rather high. However, I do this with other classics as well, recently with Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and 1984 by George Orwell. 

After I've read a classic, I will often also go online and read essays and shorter studies of the book, because it usually lends a new and interesting perspective. This is one of my favorite things about classics - because they are just that, loads of people have read them and have thoughts about them, many of which, because of the internet, are available to us all.

(This tip also applies to most things in life by the way.)

TIP #4
IF YOU'RE INTIMIDATED, READ A SHORT ONE
If you feel like classics are a bit scary, try reading a shorter one. There are many, many short classics such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson or The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. They're easier to get through because of their length, and when you're done, you feel a sense of accomplishment. I have a tendency to do this with all kinds of books - if I'm not quite feeling taking on something massive, I'll just read something shorter.


TIP #5
TAKE YOUR TIME
I don't read classics (the oldest ones at least) the same way I read other books, because with these books, they often pose a greater challenge for me. Because of that, to make sure I enjoy it, I try not to rush myself. Take your time and enjoy! That's the most important thing.

I hope this was somewhat helpful. Keep in mind that the most important thing is to read something you like, not what everyone else keeps yammering on about (though honestly, Jane Eyre is so good, and have you read any Jane Austen? You simply must!) 
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4 comments

  1. I have a love-hate relationship with classic. On one side, I love them. They give me perspective of the time and there's a quality there that make the book a classic. But at the same time, they're also really hard to read. The language is just... different. Reading short classics definitely had helped me in terms of adjusting to the language. Nowadays I tend to read slightly longer one, and while it still took me a while, I enjoyed it too. And I thought I'm the only one that google a classic while reading it haha! When I first read P&P, it was my first classic ever (big mistake, I know) and I have to keep googling while reading so I can keep up with the story xD Thanks for the tips Alice!

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

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    1. Totally get that. I agree, classics are pretty hard, especially the really old ones. Haha, google is the stuff! You know, P&P was one of the first ones I tried to read too! I was about 14 and it did not end well :P Now though, it's one of my faves, but man, that was tough the first time around!

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  2. I agree with all of these tips. I think some people want to read classics because they feel they should, not because they want to. My number one tip, that you've mentioned yourself, is find the classics that work for you. Many look at classics as one entity, not looking for the genre or topic that they'd enjoy.

    Great post!

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    1. Thanks! Finding the right classic is definitely very important :)

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