The Lowdown On: Reading Classics

I feel like you haven’t been a reader if you haven’t been asked about your hobby and immediately felt some level of judgement at some point. It comes in all forms, from the mostly harmless ‘I don’t read {so why would you do that for fun?}’ to the have you read this classic or this, with the eventual why not? I still love the old Millennials are killing the book industry statement that was going around when I was in college. Either I’m not a reader because I’m a Millennial, or I’m not a reader because I find Classics a challenge (also to my reading challenge). It’s an odd mix of judgement all around, and I’m here to say it’s not okay (or I’m not okay? – I could just be a little sensitive at this point).

The first bit is the reading the classics part. Either you’ve been tasked with reading one, genuinely want to read one, or are just challenging yourself as a goal. Each has merit, at least as long as you actually read the material (no sparknotes only version). I think for me the part I always struggle with is the pacing or language. Take Emma for example, it’s a great story so far, but I’ve had to put it aside because the pacing is very slow, and every line is pretty poetic. It’s beautiful, really, but it’s also hard if your attention span is just not there for it. Considering I was already behind on my reading challenge, this one is just waiting for me to be in a better headspace, because I can tell you I wasn’t when I started this book. I think the best thing to say with classics is it’s okay not to be great at reading them, or even to not like reading them. Books are like movies or art in that we don’t all like the same thing. I feel like with everyone giving advice and recommendations on reading, this fact tends to get lost in the shuffle. I would love for everyone to love my favorites, but I know that won’t always happen.

The second part of this post is that wonderful world of reading judgement; the one where people make lovely assumptions based on one answer you give. I love this part honestly. Most of these questions/responses typically come from conversations where people are genuinely trying to get to know me, so no book is actually in sight at least. Maybe the person asking is just surprised by the response, “I read for fun”, but the responses are not all that great, and there’s quite a few. The most common one, ‘I don’t really read’, or ‘no really, what do you do for fun?’ just make me feel like an outsider or crazy. Yes, I like reading, it’s often better than watching tv, and possibly more addictive depending on the book. I’m not really sure why my entertainment choice is so strange, which makes this one just an odd response in general. The fact is, this is the one I get from other people my age more than anywhere else. Either I run into another book lover, or someone who doesn’t like reading and gives me that raised eyebrow look. There’s not an in between except on rare occasions.

The other bit of judgement is the curiosity phase of the ‘oh, you read!’. You know the one where they eventually ask you what you read, but give examples? The examples are rarely the books donning your shelves, but ones either from Literature course syllabi or the award winning popular fiction. It’s that high level reading that isn’t always entertaining or first on your list for fun. There are readers who really love these books, I’m not saying there aren’t, but it’s kind of like an ouch moment when they list these and then you have to give your books. Why is it an ouch moment? Because then it typically goes to the ‘what are those’ question. It is young adult fiction, which is an amazing group of novels and authors all written with the goal of keeping you glued to the pages. To be fair to us, I’ve read some of the award winning popular fiction for a class, and they are not always great books, I’ve honestly 2 starred one for my troubles. It was like pulling out teeth with the characters and plot, everything written with a specific purpose/motive instead of giving you a story that pulls you in. I just fail to understand why there is only one grouping of books that are accepted in this group’s judgment. It is  no wonder we millennials are the end to reading when it comes to this logic.

Somehow I feel like this post ended up being a rant on the weird judgement I’ve experienced and heard of from other readers? Sorry if this was a rant, I think this one just has a tendency to be one of those pet peeves of mine. Let me live my reading life in peace! What are some of the things you’ve heard when it comes to non-readers/other readers? What is your take on reading classics? Are they your favorite type of books? I actually like to mix up what I read, so I’m not anti-classics. It just takes more time/energy than if I picked up a YA or Fantasy book on my shelves. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

3 thoughts on “The Lowdown On: Reading Classics

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  1. I agree with everything you wrote!

    I also tried reading Emma like, last year or something, but it was not as interesting to me as Pride and Prejudice was. It could be that I was somewhat biased because I’ve seen the movies and like the story of P&P better, but I did like Emma too. And, like you mentioned, the language used to in classics make it harder to read than current books. It can take a while to read one paragraph and try to soak in what the author is trying to express. Or, trying to understand references that would have been well-known at the time but, not now. Even with books based off movies I know by heart (ex: LoTR), it was tough to get through because of the language and writing style.

    I still don’t know why people are snobby when it comes to reading classics. Yes, they are good to know about but you shouldn’t shame someone for not reading them. Not all reading is for educational or whatever the phrase is for reading to be “cultured.” Reading for fun is valid and is what books are also for! Sometimes, you just need a quick and fun read, and that means different things to different people. We can’t all be Hermione. Also, won’t some of the books we’re reading today be considered “classics” in the future? I’m sure a lot of current authors hope their work lasts a long time. Also, I’m really tired of the world blaming things on Millennials. We don’t all think the same. If anything, we probably have the most diverse of thoughts, opinions, and actions of all current generations.

    And, this was my rant 😅 sorry if it went too long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The post I wrote was a sort of rant in the end, so it’s all good! 🙂 Millennials have a lot of things to be blamed for apparently from avocado toast to our political system being crazy. The avocado toast is one I’m finally planning to try since I might as well know what I’m being accused of lol.


      1. If you like toast and you like avocado, then you’ll like avocado toast 😆. But, I don’t think it’s anything as revolutionary or amazing as social media is making it seem.

        Liked by 1 person

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