Classics can be daunting.
Classics can make you want to curl up with a teddy bear and cry softly into the pages of a juvenile picture book.
Classical literature wants you to feel this way. It purposefully chooses scary names like Ulysses which I’m 99% sure I don’t even pronounce properly. This is because it feels so incredibly self-righteous and sanctimonious because it was written before the invention of the internet.
Sometimes it smells weird, like old books do, and often it uses words that not even the most pedantic dictionary search will yield the meaning to.
But it can be beautiful, a little insight into the past. It’s a timeless classic for a reason; it’s good. It will give you new ideas. New viewpoints. Bragging rights as you carry around War and Peace for several months.
And so, without further mysterious introduction, I unveil today’s post; Several Classics for the Nervous Reader (And how to actually read them)
I’ve tried a lot of classics. If I finished them all I could basically bypass University and get a degree in classical literature. But I find some too boring; too difficult; to big to fit inside my head. There are, however, several that fitted perfectly; little handfuls of big ideas. Here is my list….
1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
This title is ubiquitous with the term classical literature. It sounds very fancy; it must be good if a book about mockingbirds can become a classic! First, there is barely a whisper of avifauna in this book. The title is a metaphor. I also found it was easy enough to read; books set closer to our time are easier to understand, because the concepts are more familiar. They live in a similar world to us. (Unless we are talking about science fiction. I don’t live on Mars, though it would be pretty cool if you did.) The fact that the narrator is young also helps its readability, because she doesn’t often get swept away in pious tangents, and when she does, she talks in a Southern accent, and apparently Southerners are better at explaining their complicated inner thoughts. Another handy thing this book does is give you genuine entertainment, and make you think. It makes you cry. It makes you all weepy and virtuous. Then you can watch the black and white movie and simultaneously be genuinely entertained again, and giggle slightly about the ol’ fashioned cinematography. Comes in a handy compact package. Though it isn’t big and as bragg-y looking as other books, the lofty metaphorical title is enough to earn you some pleasantly surprised eye-brow raises in the street.
2. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
I am currently reading this book, and at over half way in, I feel qualified enough to recommend it. First of all, PRETTY WRITING! Second of all, this book prods my brain into thinking mode. It’s another short one; another more recent one. These two qualities, overall, make a book less daunting in my opinion. It’s tiny, and I heard somewhere that it contains a sad ending and some water. Do not read if hydrophobic. It also gives some historical insight, which may give you some kudos from a nosy teacher.
– Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Rings!
– Robin Hood (Roger Lancelyn Green version)
–The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Another in progress book..)
– Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
How to actually read the aforementioned book!
If you really feel like punishing yourself into reading a book for whatever reason, it’s good to run parallel to it a book of short stories/poetry, or an easy, light read. For these purposes, I recommend the comedic hit Girl, 15, Charming but Insane, by Sue Limb, times 1000000000!
Make yourself read x amount of pages every night, until you start enjoying it and stay up all night reading it, and/or resort to reading while walking and nearly being hit by a bus.
Take breaks to condescendingly explain the story to yourself like you’re talking to a little baby. Don’t ask me how the same person can have a smarter side to explain stuff to the dumber side. It is what it is. Things like, Character A seems to not be too happy with Character B! She’s having difficulties doing this because of this, so she wants to do this. Character C (the big scary man with the possible homicidal tendencies) seems a little hostile, and I think he might become a full-blown villain later on.
Find out a bit about the book before you begin, so you don’t stumble about looking for the birds in To Kill a Mockingbird and end up so far away you can’t find the racial injustice. You’ll understand the characters and the symbolism if you fill up on prior knowledge.
And that concludes today’s post! Feel free to leave the names of easier-to-read classics below– I need to read several for a school reading challenge!