Classics Week 1: reading Classics and where to start

Classics Week is finally here and for the first instalment of the series, I wanted to render the whole concept of reading Classics a tad less scary.

A lot of people get intimated by the prospect of reading Classics for various reasons: the books look too long, Classics are boring, the language used is out of date and hard to understand…However, once these barriers are overcome, there is a lot to get from reading Classics and I want to give you some pointers to get you started without feeling discouraged right away.

1.Classics are too long

It is true that a lot of Classics are very long. I read a lot of Dickens so you can trust that I know what I’m talking about. However, not all Classics have to be a thousand pages long. In fact, some of the best Classics I’ve read were only a couple hundred pages.

Here are a few recommendations of short yet amazing Classics:

a. Animal Farm – George Orwell

I’ve already mentioned this novella HERE but I will repeat that Animal Farm is a short read filled with satire and political commentary. It’s as entertaining as it is informative.

b. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

I don’t know if I’ve talked about this novel before but The Great Gatsby is one of these books that will probably stay with me forever. Fitzgerald is one of the most poetic writer I’ve ever read and the love story in this novel will not leave you indifferent.I had to include a picture of Leo as Gatsby because why the heck not?

c. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

I showed a picture of the beautiful edition I own of this novel HERE and I can tell you that the beauty of the cover is nothing compared to what you find inside. This novel tells of an eerie struggle between a man and his portrait and it is a splendid read.

d. The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka

If you’re looking for a strange and quick read, then The Metamorphosis is just what you need. The premise of this novella is that a man wakes up to find that he’s now an insect but the story it’s not just that. There are different layers of meaning that impact the reader in many ways.

If you’re intimidated by the length of Classics, I would also recommend you read Classic short stories (Sherlock Holmes for instance) and poetry because you can get a lot out of them and the time commitment is minimal.

2. Classics are boring

Many people have a hard time getting into Classics because they just can’t get into the plot. It’s true that for a lot of them, the value is not necessarily in the actions but more in the words. However, many Classics grab you and cannot be put down.

For this section, I would recommend sci-fi Classics or sensation novels. These two genres are very different but they both are great page-turners.

For science-fiction, I think Brave New World by Aldous Huxkley is a great one to start with. I remember being completely hooked, and slightly terrified, by the storyline of this novel.

My favourite sensation novel is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. The suspense in this novel is very well maintained and I enjoyed it through to the last page. It’s both mysterious and romantic. What more could you want?

3. I can’t get over the language complexity in Classics

For this section, I just have 2 words to give you: Modern Classics. By Modern Classics, I mean books that were written after WWII. Their writing style tends to be more accessible and just as beautiful as other Classics.

I’m going to write a whole post about Modern Classics later on this week but for now, I’ll leave you with a couple of recommendations to get you started.

a) To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

I’ve talked about this novel so many times on this blog but I had to mention it here as well. Now is the perfect time to read it too as the sequel came out in July.

b) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis

The second novel in the Narnia chronicles is probably the most well-known one and for many good reasons. It is magical, action packed and beautifully written. Also, Lucy is probably one of my favourite characters of all times.

There might be books in this list that you wouldn’t have thought were Classics but the word ‘Classics’ doesn’t only mean Jane Austen and encompasses a great variety of works, contexts and genres.

If you want to get some additional recommendations, check out this Booksandquills video HERE. Some of the books they talk about are already mentioned in this list but they have other great suggestions.

That’s it for this first Classics Week post. See you tomorrow!

 Toodles,

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4 thoughts on “Classics Week 1: reading Classics and where to start

  1. “There might be books in this list that you wouldn’t have thought were Classics but the word ‘Classics’ doesn’t only mean Jane Austen and encompasses a great variety of works, contexts and genres.”

    Although, Jane Austen’s work is amazing, and meets most of the criteria on this list. Her novels (of which there are only 6) are not exceedingly long, her words are fairly easy to understand (unless the social conventions of the Regency era really confuse you), and her characters are so well drawn, many of them could be people you know today (Emma’s father, the hypochondriac, for example).

    She’s also one of only two women mentioned in this blog post, which brings up another problem with reading the classics, and the reason I couldn’t let her only be glanced over.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. I actually really love Jane Austen myself. I was just trying to say that people’s vision of Classics is often limited to a certain era. I am actually going to write a post about Classics written by women.

      Liked by 1 person

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