The first time we come into contact with classics is at school, where novels are thrust upon us. We are expected to write essays, sit exams on them, (honestly, 3/4 we don’t read but end up wiki-ing the plot.) Some of us never pick up a book again.
I am pretty sure this is not what our teachers wanted our education to lead to. The purpose of these books is to cultivate our love of reading and bring us into contact with inspirational material that will make an impact on our future lives…(maybe.)
So here are some tips that can help you with your transition to reading classics- whether you are just starting or want to get back to reading on a regular basis. So, let’s go!
1) Try to get into a routine- may it be reading 1 chapter a day or every night before bed.
2) Start off with easier books. If you want to keep to classic lit, then start off with ones with simpler, uncomplicated writing styles and plot lines. Usually, we have memories of books we read at school, that have put us off evermore. This doesn’t have to be the case. NOW, nobody is forcing the books on you- and you get to choose the one YOU want to read and appeals to you.
3) Genres in books are just like that of films-adventure, action, romance, comedy, sci-fi…they are endless. And this goes for classic literature too. It is hard to know the best books to read, so you can either do some research online for recommendations, or just go to the book store and read the blurb (back cover!) Imagine them screaming ‘pick me, pick me!’ Now generally, classic lit blurb’s don’t have a lot of glossing on them like many modern novels. Some editions are long (with unattractive covers) which can put you right off. But the great thing, is how publishers are ‘re-vamping’ covers making them bright, colourful and appealing that are supposed to look nice on the bookshelf- taking content aside.
Tip: Buy one with a nice cover. Yes, it is undoubtedly true you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But there’s no harm in choosing an edition that is attractive to you. Not only does it improve the reading experience, but also your chance of going back to it in the future, trust me.
4) Classics are easier to access- you got it, a library! Some of my best memories are of libraries- I’m not even kidding. They always have a little corner, a comfortable place to sit and get away from the world. It’s also somewhere to meet like minded people (theoretically speaking…)
5) There’s a reason why they are called classics. Passed down through the ages, they remain people’s favourites and have been so…for a reason. In some cases, you won’t agree, and think a book people champion as amazing is utter……well you get the picture. The point is that you made the effort to read it, to find out for yourself. That way, not only can you say ‘I’ve read it, and I disagree with you’, but it gives you something to talk about.
6) It might be interesting to keep an ‘old language’ vocabulary notebook. It comes in handy, and teaches you new words all the time. Words like alacrity and auspicious and sanguine. They exist, but sure, most people don’t use them any more. But treat it as a brain exercise, and it can improve your language skills- no matter which classics (or any book for that matter) you are reading.
7) All reading requires patience, the act of picking up from where you left off, the desire to continue reading, no matter what it is. It’s so easy to become sidetracked in the busy routine of day to day life. But a lot of things require patience, and in a society where we rely on phones, laptops, ipads etc to get by, most people would rather choose a game or watch a TV show (yes, guilty!) rather than do something more time consuming. Especially if you’ve had a tiring day at work, there’s nothing better than catching up your latest TV show rather than reaching for a book (depending also on how fast a reader you are) But that doesn’t matter. It’s the point of persevering and not giving up on a book you like.
8) Kindles and other electronic devices are taking over actual books, equalling to less of us reading hard copies. Yes this is an issue for book lovers, as nothing can beat a hard copy. There are many advantages to using a Kindle, it can store thousands of books, easy to access and bookmark, light to carry. But honestly, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re reading something.
9) This may be less a tip and more an observation- but keep a hard copy of the book by your bed, or on your desk, somewhere you can see it. I’m more motivated to read if there’s a book that’s there right in front of me, rather than on a kindle or other device which I can just tuck away.
10) Last but not least, why readers are scientifically proven to be the best people to fall in love with…uh huh, it’s true. Fellow book readers, this is the moment you have been waiting for…
So what do you think? Do readers make the best lovers?
And what are your reading tips?
9 thoughts on “It doesn’t have to be boring! ~10 Tips for reading classics”
I am reading Vanity Fair by Thackeray (on p. 60 now). I keep a highlighter with me to absorb the story and quotes better! 🙂 but thick books are not inviting at all. I read someone’s comment online and said that one of the ways to read classics especially with thick ones is to tear off the pages and staple the pages in chapters so it won’t scare you off.
How are you enjoying it? haha! I would feel terrified defacing a book, but sometimes I fold down a little corner for good bits! it would no doubt be educational to read back on comments you have made in the past, and you can track your change as a reader!
it requires patience! thank you for this post it is a great encouragement!
Have you read The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton? It has a beautiful cover and its backdrop is 19th century New Zealand. It has 832 pages which is like a classic thick Victorian novel! I want to borrow it from the library a few months ago but when I knew that it involves astrology concept I hesitated.
oh i haven’t! you should try it out and let me know what you think 😀 it sounds interesting. have you read ‘sophie’s world?’ it is v philosophical
still haven’t! There are so many books I ought to have read! Since you read English at uni, do you need to read lots of Shakespeare? Any Victorian writers and novels you particularly like? I admire people who do English at uni! 🙂
I read a lot during secondary school, macbeth, romeo + juliet, tempest, hamlet…at uni i chose early american lit and modernism modules! I liked “invisible man” by ralph ellison about black americans and their loss of identity….a lot of victorian books I read after uni! the problem is we studied quite a mixture and I don’t even remember all I wrote ny essays on :s
Great tips! I love classics, but sometimes it is hard to get through the book and discover the beauty in it. Also, Sparknotes is very helpful if someone is having trouble following the plot in a book. 🙂
Thank you! Yes I agree with you, it can be tough and there’s just so much content it’s hard to appreciate all that’s going on. I like how you dissect segments of Dickens with quotes and reflections…and haha what would we do without Sparknotes eh! It saved us during uni!
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