Monday, 25 July 2011
Welcome to Bookie Brunch
Come join the discussion!
Founder: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
* Every Sunday*
Today's host: This Miss Loves to Read
Next week’s host (August 31): Beyond Strange New Words
This week’s discussion open through: July 27
Your host this week:
Irena at This Miss Loves to Read
Her guests this week:
Jennie at Jennie's Corner
Jo at The Fluidity of Time
Pepca at Beyond Strange New Words
We are one guest short this week.
Welcome to the Bookie Brunch! Created by the wonderful Sasha Soren, the Bookie Brunch is a traveling event where bookish people get together to discuss bookish things. Every Sunday, five readers will share their opinions on a particular topic, and you are welcome to join us!
Please join me in welcoming Jennie, Jo and Pepca to This Miss Loves to Read!
ON THE MENU:
Do you think people only read classics because they are classics or because they are actually enjoyable? Is there a classic that you don't think should be a classic? Why do you think that?
LET US BEGIN!
Do you think people only read classics because they are classics or because they are actually enjoyable?
I think that it is a combination of both. I feel as if the majority of people read the classics because they are classics and it's just something you "should" read at some point. However classics also wouldn't be so popular if they weren't good or enjoyable. What I personally feel is a testament to the fact that classics are actually enjoyable, is the fact that they are constantly being reinterpreted or re-invisioned. The majority of books that are out now, are influenced in way or another by the classics. Take the most obvious example of Dracula by Bram Stoker. It has literally spawned a whole genre in itself. Frankly if you take the time to read the book that started it all, you'll find that it is a really great read! (Well in my opinion at least). There are lots of ways to interpret what a classic is but a quote that I like is “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say” So much so that they tend to create their own genres! ;). They are books that have stood the test of time. A book that has stood the test of time and is never finished saying what is has to say? Well that is a book I want to read and I'm pretty sure it will be extremely enjoyable! :)
Is there a classic that you don't think should be a classic? Why do you think that?
To be honest... No.
I've sat here, for I don't know how long, trying to think of one that should not be a classic. I can't. Is it awful that I even resorted to googling "books that shouldn't be classics"? Honestly I disagreed with every suggestion that I found (I mean they said Dickens! Dickens? How is that possible? *shakes head in disbelief*) So I'm back to square one. No I don't think there is a classic that shouldn't be a classic. For the most part I think they all have there own merits. Some people argue that they are outdated. Outdated, really? If a book is set in the 1920's but written in 2011, its not outdated, why should the classics be? If anything it makes them more authentic. People need to appreciate them for what they are, not for what they want them to be.
For most of us, it seems like we encounter classic books when we're in school (high school, for many of us). In my experience, the books are relatively varied, mostly by dead white men and including a selection or two from women, like Jane Austen or one of the Bronte sisters. Unfortunately, either way, unless you have a really wonderful teacher, classics seem to be beaten to death, over-analyzed until the enjoyable bits are few and far between, and you don't want to read another book by that particular author.
I was lucky enough to have some really great English teachers in high school, so I was able to enjoy some classics, like Wuthering Heights, and Of Mice and Men, and others. But other classics seemed to fall by the wayside, or I just never felt like I enjoyed reading them. My theory is that the state of mind you're in when you read a book, and what's going on in your life, affect how you react to a book. For some classics, I think that's what makes them pretty hard to relate to for a lot of readers. Others seem to transcend anything modern because the story is written so well, or you just enjoy the characters so much.
That being said, I think that some people really do enjoy classics, and that style of writing. For them, the experience of reading a classic is like listening to well-composed music, or gourmet food, and something enjoyable. For other readers, however, I think that classic books, read outside of the bounds of school reading, are read just because they are classics; that there is a feeling like one should read the book because it is a classic, and not for any other reason.
I don't believe in reading something just because it is a classic. While I enjoy some classic books, I don't like others. And I'm not going to read them just because they have been deemed as a classic. Case in point: Catcher in the Rye. I have read it 3 times, and I can't stand it. Twice for school (once in high school, once in grad school, and once just for "fun"). Cannot stand that book, and actually don't think it should be a classic. While I don't enjoy Jane Austen's books (I know, I'm a heretic for saying that), I can understand why they are classics --- her books are quite well-written and give us insight into a time period in history. Catcher in the Rye, on the other hand, gives the reader (in my opinion, of course), insight into a very annoying character, and the time period and setting don't really matter much. Given my druthers, if I'm going to read about a high-school aged boy in a "classic" book, give me A Separate Peace. At least I find the main character interesting, the time period relevant, and the story to be good.
Classics are the kinds of books that I think should be taught and should be studied, and should be enjoyed. However, I don't think it's cool to feel like one "should" read something one isn't interested in (unless it's assigned. There's not much to do about that except try to enjoy it). Simple reading something to brag to other, "I've read War and Peace" or "I read only the classics" --- unless it's true, and you really do love the classics, why bother? Plenty of wonderful books in the world to be read and enjoyed.
I think there are three kinds of people. Some people read the classics because they are classics. They read classics because they want to sound sophisticated. The second kind of people read classics because they enjoy reading them. They want to read classics because they want to learn something, get some food for thought, educate themselves, and enjoy the writing. There is also the third kind of people – the people who do not read classics at all, except when they are required to, that is in school.
I used to belong to the third group. The word classics used to lit a flashing read alarm light in my head saying classics = required reading = boring and difficult = to-be-avoided-at-all-costs. However, since I started blogging, other people’s enthusiasm about classics convinced me to give them another chance. I have read several classics lately and found them quite enjoyable. That said, I do not think myself qualified to give an opinion about whether there is any classic which should not be considered a classic. After all, classics become classics because many people find a great artistic value in them.
Your host, Irena, says:
I encountered most of the classics in school, but I had the luck of reading a lot of people's beloved classics without knowing their importance – without the burden of any sort of expectation, so to say. Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Catcher in the Rye, all of Jane Austen's novels – I read them by coincidence when I was in high school, developing my passion for reading, without being aware of the fact that they are classic novels of significance. I can say, though, that I tackled those books that I knew to be classics with an amount of reluctance, merely because they were obligatory reading material. So, I think that a lot of people avoid classics precisely because they are classics, because they see something obligatory or even posh in such literature, and it is for the same reasons that a lot of people read such books. They want to appear smart and in a way, that's a reader's version of peer pressure.
I have grown to love classic literature over the years, mostly British works. I read classic works because I like the genuine sense of the past; the old values, traditions, realistic presentations of a society now gone. I think that is why one should choose to read a classic or two; not because they would look smart because let's face it, all classics are just books. Not because they have to, but out of curiosity, to see things through different glasses.
Last year, I decided to read twenty American classics in the next few years, simply because I want to. I want to explore America through classic literature because it is classic literature that shows one the primary essence of a nation, of a culture. The world has modernized, but we still follow ancient values – respect, honesty, love, and so on. Classic literature shows one just that.
In conclusion, I can't name a book that should not be a classic. It would be me saying that a book is not worthy, that a book should not be popular. It's a completely subjective thing. And the thing is, when one book is loved and value by many people, it can't be avoided that it becomes an immediate classic.
If you want to be a part of Bookie Brunch, please contact one of the people below:
Contact Bookie Brunch:
If you would like to be a host, contact: @StoryWings
If you want to bring goodies for a giveaway: @StoryWings
You’re invited to join the discussion below, and you will most likely get a reply from one of your fellow bloggers. So, what do you think about classic literature?
Posted by Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read at 7/25/2011