Monday, November 23, 2009
In Defense of Classics
Now most of the commenting on these blog posts are of the 'fill your boots' variety. People don't care what you read, as long as you read. I agree with that but I'm also feeling people are quick to write off the classics. It's okay to diss classics but hands off everything else. I feel almost like people think I'm a literary snob for liking them. I'm starting to feel guilty about liking them and trying to defend them. I feel like people are taking what I'm saying the wrong way and it's frustrating.
Classics aren't just for pipe smoking guys in tweed jackets (pardon me if you like tweed jackets). They're for everyone. And here's the thing if you read one classic you haven't read them all. It's not a genre. If you read Jane Austen and hated it that doesn't mean you hate classics, it means you hate Jane Austen! There's a wide variety to choose from and you might have a favorite book that you don't even know is a classic.
Finding a definition for classic books is a hard one. I like this definition it's pretty much what I think but I'll tell you mine. I've been part of an online classics book club for years and are selections have a huge time range, and cross all genres. To qualify it must be at least 20 years old and be readily available to most members (I say most because it's not always easy to find even the common books everywhere). Meaning it's never gone out of print because if it hasn't there is a reason why.
So knowing this you got a lot of choices. Like sci-fi? Mary Shelley, HG Wells are for you. Romance? Gone with the Wind. Want to feel that your life is fantastic? Read Thomas Hardy- everybody dies. Women's issues? The Handmaid's Tale. New York society? Edith Wharton. Dystopian? 1984, Fahrenheit 451. Just want to have fun? The Three Musketeers. Young people making bad choices with little parental supervision? Wuthering Heights. There is something for every taste, 'literary,' 'fluff' whatever. Bleak House by Charles Dickens has spontaneous human combustion! For reals!
Want to try a classic? Tell me what you like and I'll make you a suggestion. If you don't like it, that's fine. I won't be too hurt. And it goes both ways. Do you feel that I'm missing out on something? Suggest it to me and I'll try to read it next year. But make it a good one. I only want your best picks.
Or you can tell me:
What is your favorite classic book?