Should We Read The Classics?
The answer to the question posed by the title of this post is yes. Yes, we should definitely read the classics. There’s nothing like them and as both readers and writers, they help us understand where we have come from. This is especially true when we put them into the context of the time in which they were written.
That J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla is a classic vampire story and a great read. But understanding it predates Dracula and is part of an ongoing tradition of vampire stories makes it even more enjoyable!
What Are The Classics?
More than just being frustrating things you were forced to read in school, the classics are stories that have stood the test of time. They can range from anywhere to a few decades old to thousands of years old. From the well-known and loved or despised, to the obscure that only scholars of certain fields are aware of.
3 Reasons To Read The Classics
I’m not inclined to tell you what to do. Especially without some sort of explanation. So, here are three reasons I personally think people should give the classics a shot and read them:
1) They Help Us Understand Modern Books
We all read modern books and have favorite modern authors. I for one love the work of Marie Brennan, Nndendi Okorafor etc. Nothing can replace the fun of reading something new from them or other authors I like. Or finding an awesome debut author or one that is new to me.
But the more I read the classics, the more styles of writing I’ve become open to reading. I don’t like memoirs as a general rule, but reading a Victorian-esque memoir set in a made up world? Yes, yes I’m more than willing to read something like that. In fact, A Natural History of Dragons reminds of Le Fanu’s Carmilla. There are no dragons in Carmilla, but Natural History of Dragons uses a more formal, older style of writing that evokes a sense of being in a certain time and place. And if I didn’t read the classics or hated classics from the 19th century, in particular, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the writing style Brennan used to write it. I would have lost out on a really good read and a series I’m now determined to complete.
2) There Is Something For Everyone
Do you like vampire stories? There are tons of those to read when reading the classics, whether myth, novella, or novel. There’s a whole planet of vampires and vampire-like beings to explore.
Do you like time travel stories or Science Fiction in general? The classics are a hotbed of awesome Science Fiction. Particularly for those who want a more adventure type of Sci-Fi story. H.G. Wells The Time Machine is both the book that personally ignited my love of written Sci-Fi when I was a little kid and one I still love.
3) They’re Fun To Read!
Yep, I said it. They’re actually fun to read.
Don’t get me wrong. It takes a while to find what niche of classics you personally enjoy. But when you do, there’s nothing like curling up with a good book or collection of stories or poetry from one of your favorite classic writers and just relaxing.
Every year, I reread Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice because I just enjoy the story so much. The fun takes on the story with Zombies and other monster mays come and go, but the basic story is timeless.
The One Thing About The Classics That Annoys Me
For all that I love reading the classics, there is one thing that puts a bee in my metaphorical bonnet: the lack of diversity. At least, in the Western Classics that is. Reading classics from non-Western cultures helps alleviate this some.
But the Western Classics, particularly those people think everyone just has to read, do very poorly on LGBT+ representation. This is due to the feelings of the times in which these stories were written, but it still bothers me.