On Reading Classics

There still seems to be a stigma that in order to be a “real” bookworm, you need to have read the classics. I don’t know why this is a thing, but any real bookworm knows that this is complete crap. The mottos of being a reader are:

“Don’t let anyone judge you for the books you read, or the books you choose not to read.”

“Read what you want to read. Life is too short to read books you do not enjoy.”

It’s fairly simple. We’ve learned over time that we can’t force ourselves through classics just because they’re classics. It’s completely different if we want to read them because of real interest or to broaden our knowledge of literature. I’m not big on reading classic literature because the language is so different and let’s be honest, classics are very wordy. However, there are some I’ve had a general interest in reading, like Gone With the Wind, Jane Austen’s books, and a couple of others here and there. I’ve had different reasons for wanting to read them, but until I had those reasons, I never once cared about reading them if I didn’t have to.

My motive for reading Gone With the Wind was because it’s one of my mom’s favorite books, as well as the quote, “My dear, I don’t give a damn.” Another reason was the fact that my mom had told me how Scarlett was very much a procrastinator, often saying, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” (or something along those lines). When I finally picked up the book during the 2020 quarantine, I loved it and I was so happy I took the time to read it. If anyone asks me what my favorite classic is, it’s Gone With the Wind.

I never gave any of the Jane Austen books a second glance in the bookstores until I saw Tirzah Price’s book, Pride and Premeditation advertised on Goodreads (or Instagram). Seeing that it was a modernized version of Pride and Prejudice, with a murder-mystery twist, I knew I wanted to read it… and I did. Then I subsequently read the original work by Ms. Austen to get the original story. Since then, I’ve also read Sense & Sensibility, and bought three more of her works with a plan to read them, eventually. However, thanks to a modernized tale of a classic, I’m a fan of the original.

That’s not to say I’ll read every classic. For instance, I know I’ll never touch Dracula or Frankenstein, or the really long and *cough*boring*cough* ones (at least to me they seem like they’d be). But I do have some more on my list, including Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 on my TBR list, as my high school Literature classes never covered those books (to be fair, I went to a Tech school).

I think it’s cool if you want to read the classics out of pure interest for whatever reason, but I highly disagree that in order to call yourself a reader/bookworm you need to read the classics or else you’re just faking it.

So, my friends, what’s your stance on this topic? Do you have interest in reading the classics for pleasure? Which ones have you read? Discuss.

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7 thoughts on “On Reading Classics

  1. alisbooks says:

    While I have enjoyed a lot of classics (and others not at all), I totally agree that you don’t have to have read any classics to consider yourself a reader. I actually got my start into classics the same way you did – wanting to read them after enjoying modern retellings and wanting to compare them. From that point I started consuming more and more of them. But, I always encourage people to just read what they enjoy, and it’ll most likely start to expand from there. If it doesn’t, that’s okay, too. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Peter Martuneac says:

    I do try to read some classics even if they don’t appeal to me, just because I think there is value to reading something that had enough of an impact on society to still be relevant decades or even centuries later.

    Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott is a classic that I legitimately enjoyed reading, and have read multiple times. Moby Dick, as well. I actually liked the random tangents of the author, going on for several pages about whaling practices and traditions, because I probably would have Googled all that anyway lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. benjaminbookworm says:

    It’s pretty pretentious of anyone to say that you need to read classics in order to be a real reader. It doesn’t matter what you read or how much, if you read, you’re a reader. People can be so ridiculous sometimes.


  4. micahthereadingelf says:

    I’ve read some classics, part for school and part for my own interest. My grandfather is an English Literature professor, so I kind of learned to love reading all kinds of books at a young age. Some that I’ve read I know are above what my grade is covering, but it makes the class easier for me, haha.

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing if people don’t read the classics. Everyone pretty much knows the gist of them because of media, anyway. I think you should only read them if you genuinely want to or if you want to study classic literature.

    Liked by 1 person

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