Thursday, May 15, 2014

Let's Talk About... Classics

I imagine many of you are like me: You have a complicated relationship with "classics". You know, those books you were forced to read in high school and/or college. The books people will wax poetic about but it always kind of seems like no one has read them. (I know a lot of us don't, even when we're supposed to. I'm just as guilty!) The books you feel guilty that you haven't read--and, with some of them, you have read and hated. Or enjoyed!

It's kind of funny to me, but more often that I'd expect I talk to people about classic literature and they tell me they don't like old books, they don't like classics. Across the board. Not a one. And I can't help but wonder, what makes people say that? Why is there this idea that all older books, all classics, are the same? Literature as always been as diverse as it is today! For every Jane Austen there's Robinson Crusoe or Sherlock Holmes. For every Paradise Lost there's a Crime and Punishment. Maybe the writing is more formal and uses words that are out of use today, but there's still the diverse style and voice that we have now.

I know Barney Stinson would say...

But I have to disagree. (First GIF on this blog ever! WOO!)

This, in a way, brings me to my other point. How do you feel about your education in literature? I mean, if you're here, reading a book blog, obviously you love to read. Hopefully that means you at least somewhat enjoyed English classes in school. But do you feel that your ability to study and appreciate literature was taught in school? I don't think mine was.

It wasn't until I got to college and started taking literature classes that I began to truly appreciate books for the art that they are--no matter what kind of book. I'm afraid so many people have been turned off to reading because they were taught from books they couldn't relate to, instead of beginning to learn from a level that engages people. You can't tell me a high schooler would prefer to read Beowulf when they could read The Fault in Our Stars. Even though TFiOS isn't a "classic" or whatever, students would so benefit from learning to identify important themes in a work they're in engaged in, which would help set in the idea, before moving onto things that are more intimidating, and likely less interesting to them. (I'm not making this a blanket statement at all, since I've seen a lot of teachers writing curriculum around these kinds of ideas! Yay them!!) Just how many people say they hate reading because they never found that book, the one that started it all?

I didn't mean to get into such big ideas, but it's been on my mind a lot recently. Reading is such a vital part of my life. I was recently asked offhand about my hobbies, and the only one I could come up with was reading. Maybe my life isn't full enough, but it made me realize just how important reading is to me (as if I didn't know already!) I wonder at times what I would be doing with myself right now if I hadn't found the right books to make me love reading. I'd hate for someone, anyone, to miss out on the experiences I've had because of books.

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