Enjoyable Classics? | A Mini Discussion

Most of us, at one point or another, have HAD to read a classic. Whether that be in school or university, you have probably been faced with having to read a daunting and unfamiliar classic against your will. Growing up, I was definitely not a fan of classics. When I was in high school I found that the books and plays we studied took all the fun out of reading and made me want to read less in general. My classmates often expressed how boring they thought these books were and some of the teachers I had didn’t show much enthusiasm either. Some of the classics I read were Animal Farm by George Orwell, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, all of which I did not enjoy at all. But recently I’ve been thinking about classics and what has created the idea that they’re boring. Is it because they’re sometimes really old and often challenging to understand? Is it because the plots seem uninteresting? Or do we just assume that if people we know didn’t enjoy them then we won’t either?

Well, at university I have no choice but to read and study classics on a daily basis; however, I have grown to really enjoy them over the past few years. There’s been some great ones and some not-so-great ones, but I’ve slowly grown to appreciate them and what they have to offer. Maybe it’s because I’ve studied them much deeper than how I studied classics in high school, but I find that I’m often inclined to go out of my way and buy classics out of interest and read them by choice. And yet, there are people I know who still think reading in general is boring because they read classics they considered boring in high school.

I think what makes a classic enjoyable is not only the plot, but also the ways it makes you think and feel, considering that it was published in a context so different to your own. A huge plot twist is awesome, too! But I find it so interesting to read from the perspective of someone who lived in a time and place completely different to mine and I think that that’s why I enjoy classics so much more than before.

So, for those of you struggling to get into classics or are looking for some enjoyable ones to read, I have a few recommendations! I don’t want to go into them too deeply, but I have listed some things about them that will hopefully spark your interest to read them!

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

  • Beautiful writing
  • Understandable language
  • Interesting plot (boarding schools; governesses; mysterious screaming in gothic mansions)
  • A wonderful romance
  • A HUGE PLOT TWIST THAT LITERALLY MADE ME SCREAM

 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula

  • Gothic setting (inescapable castles; dark and ominous forests)
  • Story is told through diary entries
  • Real, scary, gory vampires, because obviously
  • A really satisfying ending
  • Understandable language

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

The Great Gatsby

  • The best modern classic I have ever read
  • Set in 1920s New York
  • Beautiful writing
  • A really deep story that looks at the emptiness of the “American Dream”
  • Never a dull moment

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I really want to encourage people to read more classics because I believe that they teach us so much about the context they were published in and what sort of concerns were around at the time.This was just a short discussion on classics and how they are perceived, but I have so many more thoughts on this topic and I hope I can share those with you in a longer post in the future! But for now, I hope that this post inspired you to think more deeply about classics and what the perceptions around them are!

WHAT ARE YOUR OPINIONS ON CLASSICS AND HOW THEY ARE PERCEIVED? DO YOU ENJOY CLASSICS? WHY OR WHY NOT? COMMENT DOWN BELOW AND LET’S TALK ABOUT IT! 🙂

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11 thoughts on “Enjoyable Classics? | A Mini Discussion

  1. Cover2CoverMom says:

    Interesting post and wonderful recommendations! I think certain classics should be taught at the high school level and others should be held off until college or adulthood. I know I have appreciated the classics more as an adult.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lara says:

      Yes, I definitely agree! High school students should be given really interesting and understandable classics to read and study that can still challenge them, but not make them feel bored or hate reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sinead Morgan says:

    I like that you’re interrogating this idea of books considered part of the “canon” being perceived as boring. However, I think that the term “classic” is problematic because it has rarefying and elitist associations. It’s a very weak and glib term to discern a genre! I think it’s better to discern between periods perhaps such as Medieval, 19th century, world literature etc as they are at university level! Again, another thing that high school does wrong!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lara says:

      Yeah, I definitely agree, but I think that trying to periodise novels is just as problematic because so many themes and elements from one period can carry through to the next. Some authors today could be described as modernist or realist because features of those periods have persisted to the present-day. I think “classics” is problematic as well but is more successful in unifying the novels, plays, and epic poems from other centuries because they all say something specific about their contexts, which is really why we study them at all.

      But yeah, I wish I could have made my post a more formal or serious discussion but with all the academic essays I already have to write I try to not be too strict with my blog haha but thanks for your interesting idea!

      Like

      • Sinead Morgan says:

        Oh I wasn’t clear on what I meant by periods. I meant broad ones such as years between 650-1550 followed by 1550-1700 etc. rather than movements which would mean modernism or realism because as you say, there is overlap in terms of thematic concerns. Anyway, I know what you mean about wanting to let loose after lots of academic writing!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sinead Morgan says:

    I like that you are interrogating this perception that books considered part of the canon are dull. However, I do find the term “classics” objectionable. It has rather rarefying and elitist associations. I think perhaps it is better to discern between different periods such as Medieval, 19th century, world literature etc as is done at universities! Again, another thing that high school has done wrong!

    Like

  4. Victoria says:

    I think I’ve definitely been turned away from classics because of school. Being forced to analyse a book definitely takes out a lot of the joy involved in reading. I do want to start trying out some more though, so I’ll keep your recommendations in mind! 🙂

    Like

    • Lara says:

      I think that classics have so much value, so it’s a pity that schools don’t put in the effort to make studying them actually fun! Really glad to hear that you’ll check out my recommendations though! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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