Classics! Turns Out They Aren’t So Scary

I like to say I read a little bit of everything, but truthfully I get into this swings where all I want to read at once is certain genres or types of books. Last year and maybe half of the year before I was all about the YA books. I read so many of them. I think this was mostly inspired by my discovery of booktube and the blogging community shortly before hand. My first, and now shut down blog was mostly YA books. The end of last year I wanted everything Fantasy (pretty much back to what I loved growing up). I realized then how much of a mood reader I am. Just following my moods like this meant I didn’t get to branch out much. I didn’t read a lot of literary fiction, or popular adult fiction. I certainly didn’t read classics. Ew.

This also had a lot to do with my taste of classics in high school. They were books you read because you had to. Which, sure, wasn’t that bad but there were some books that I for starters wasn’t mature enough to read and I also just did not like. I’m not kidding you, I was in the AP English class and we had to make a video relating to one of our required reading books in groups. Our group made a Grapes of Wrath video on how much we hated it, eventually we even ‘degraded’ our society to chanting and circling a bonfire of copies of the book.
… Yeah.

So classics were SUPER intimidating. It’s amazing though what actually trying them will do. I loved Pride & Prejudice in high school, so I knew there had to be books in that category that I’d like. So I started revisiting this wide shelf of books in two ways.

  1. I appealed to the collector in me. I like collecting matching versions or types of books so, upon finding some amazing booktubers who read almost exclusively classical books I found the Penguin English Library editions. Hella cheap (between 6 and 10 dollars on Book Depository, with free shipping), and with super awesome covers.
  2. I then went with obvious choices. I’ve talked about my favorite buzzwords previously in a Top 5 Wednesday. So I used those buzzwords: ghosts, Sherlock Holmes, regency romance, mysteries.

I started with a spooky story, going for Turn of the Screw. Then I moved to Sherlock, on to more Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, and Bram Stoker. Then I started finding more of these awesome bloggers and booktubers and found more and more that appealed to me. I have a Penguin Classics Collection started, and even have my first Vintage Red Spine (The Great Gatsby).

The reason this works for me, this collecting, is that I have to read the ones I have unread before I can read the next. Thanks to the way I have to understand what I read I end up using Spark Note when I need to, or looking up what is just a little over my head. I also leave a lot of notes in my books. On everything I read I use post-it notes to mark little quotes and scenes but with my classics I use full sized post-it notes to make notes and reminders and leave thoughts (my Portrait of Dorian Gray has notes on nearly every other page).

It’s was also super, SUPER surprising to me that I could read these easily and comprehend them because like I said, in high school these things drove me nutty. Now I read them easily. For the ones that drag, because it’s happened, I switch to an audio version and that really makes a difference. I really recommend, for those wanting Jane Austen reads to try this particular series narrated by Juliet Stevenson, that woman has an incredibly narration. She’s also done quite a few other authors and books, I’m pretty excited to read those as well.

The short of it is, classics really are not that scary. They are surprisingly easy to read, and if you have trouble there are tons of groups, sites, reviews, and other ways to comprehend them. I read the Penguin English Library edition of Turn of the Screw which had with it Daisy Miller. That story had me going ‘Huh?’ at first but after a few reviews and study article online it made so much more sense. If classics at all challenge you or someone you know, definitely give them a try!

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