Monday, October 29, 2012

A box of old books


It was a seemingly simple question, phrased in ordinary language, appearing on The Classics Club in a quiet and unassuming font and size.   Yet as soon as I saw it, it took into account all the Wheaties it had been eating and did the proverbial leap off the webpage.

Why do you read the classics?

Until then, I hadn't answered any of the Classics Club's monthly meme questions--a combination of "not enough time" and "I'm not really that interested."   But this one... this one wouldn't leave me alone.  I hadn't the time to answer it when I first saw it, as I was in a flurry preparing for houseguests, but now I have a bit more time on my hands and I'm just squeaking in under the wire.  There IS a little bit left of October, after all.

So.  It's probably evident to anyone reading my blog that I read classics.  But the question isn't whether I read classics or not--it's why do I read the classics?


The short answer to that question would be that I am an unashamed book snob and that I prefer reading classics because they tend to be far superior to almost all modern books out there.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry! It just POPT out!"

The long answer is much less rude and takes quite a bit more time to articulate (do tell, Amy! Is that why it's called the long answer?  What a clever creature you are, to be sure!).

Since the long answer is such a biggie, I'm going to channel my inner organizational nut and use bullet points. Yay for bullet points! For some reason they always make me feel so Academic.  Am I the only one?

I read the classics because...

  • I could not live without books.  And classics are books, as I am sure you will all agree.
  • I love me a big, thick tome.  A book that I can get my teeth into (figuratively speaking).  A book that will last me a long, long time.  Classics tend to be like that.  
  • I like reading about the past, whether it be non-fiction history books, historical fiction or literature written in a bygone era.  I sometimes think I was born in the wrong century.  


  • I love me a big, thick tome.  A book that I can get my teeth into (figuratively speaking).  A book that will last me a long, long time.  Classics tend to be like that.  
  • I like reading about the past, whether it be non-fiction history books, historical fiction or literature written in a bygone era.  I sometimes think I was born in the wrong century.
  • Classics tend to focus on people and how they relate to each other rather than galloping plotlines.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying a classic book doesn't have a plot.  But I tend to be more attracted to the characters and what they think about the world than to the adventure the characters move in.  And classics are stories that have remained timeless, because in general they focus on people.  People don't change.  Societies change, times change, the whole world changes, but people have been the same since Adam and Eve.  

  • There's a certain sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, lean-back-and-stretch-after-a-job-well-done that comes with reading a good hefty classic.  I've yet to experience that with reading most modern fiction.
  • There are so many friends to be found within classic books.  You don't mean to tell me that anyone could forget Emma Woodhouse after once reading about her, do you?
  • Classics tend to be inexpensive and easy to find at used bookstores.  It is the truth, and there is no shame in admitting it.




  • "In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself."  (C.S. Lewis)  Could it possibly have been said any better?  
  • I love the smell of a good, old book.  I will never own a Kindle or Nook if I can possibly help it.  There is no substitute for real, old-fashioned paper and binding.
  • I have met so many kindred spirits through reading classics... why, without Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and the like, this blog would never have begun.  Smoke on your pipe and put THAT in!



"...she is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain..."
~Louisa May Alcott

Why do you read the classics?

8 comments:

Hayden said...

Me agree. Very much :)

How could we survive without such good classics...?

Anna Griffith said...

Love the blog! Glad to see someone else is reading classic books too! I'm undertaking a six year long project to read through 100 classic works of literature that I have never read before. You can check out the list of books that I've chosen, as well as follow my progress at http://6years45000pages.blogspot.com

Payton Wilson said...

This post... I like it. Another!

:P Sorry. I felt the urge for a movie quote. What can I say?

In all seriousness, though, this post really resonated with me. You pretty much said all that's it my head!

And you see, I'm a bit of a poet. And you did not know it.

Margaret Hale said...

I agree! The classics are indeed very superior to most modern books.
I liked the Louisa May Alcott quote at the end.

Mackenzie said...

I agree. Books to me are not readable unless they are classics. I also believe I was born in the wrong century. For these modern times don't seem as fun as those back then.

Jack said...

Aw, the classics. So many good ones, I especially enjoy Jules Verne's stories.

MaryR said...

Your reasons are not the same as my reasons for reading the classics, but yours are very good reasons. It wasn't part of the bulleted list (which I agree is a lovely thing), but I think "...she is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain..." may be a reason for doing this.

Emily Coleman said...

I, too, love the bullet list. I particularly agree with the one about characters vs. plot. I avoid sci-fi and fantasy for the very reason that they're so plot-centered. Ugh. With classics, you can gain friends, because the characters are so REAL.