Hi again, welcome back! Today I’d like to open up the discussion as to whether you “should” read classics.
Many people argue that we should be reading classic novels which hold a particular significance for a time in history, or which have been instrumental in influencing modern works of fiction in their plot devices and writing style.
But to me, this is wrong. In my opinion, reading should be for pleasure. We read because it’s fun, because we get something enjoyable out of it, and this makes us want to keep exploring and finding new books, genres and ideas. And as much as some books are seen as superior to others, does it matter what someone is reading, as long as they are reading?
Some classics are just plain boring, and sometimes it’s hard to get into a book which does not relate to modern society at all. While I love classics, and read a lot of them, I hate it when people suggest they must be read. Books by authors such as Dickens just don’t appeal to me, and therefore I don’t read them. I have tried (and failed) to enjoy ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad, and I stick to the kind of classics I know I will enjoy, whether they’re modern or much older.
I believe it is important to push yourself when you’re reading, and if you stick to the same genre all the time, you’re bound to get bored. However, by forcing someone to read a book that they just don’t relate to, or don’t want to read, it can discourage people from reading in the first place.
Of course, in order to continue the subject of English Literature, there are certain books that will be required reading. But by continually forcing young people to read classics, and not offering them chance to read what interests them, this can cause serious problems. We don’t want to put young people off reading for good, just because we want to promote ‘traditional’, ‘classic’ works.
And I also have a problem with what are considered classic, traditional works. All too often, these works are by white men, and I can only remember studying two female authors while in A-Level, and one of those was because I chose to study her.
I’m not trying to invalidate the work of white men, because some of this work is genius. I don’t think there will be a time when Shakespeare will not be taught in schools, and we owe so much to his plays. But what about some African American authors? Some women? Some people who aren’t as well known, but still have contributed to the literary canon?
And this too could help young people want to read more classics, because they can see figures that actually relate to them in these novels, rather than just white men.
So, I open up the discussion to you. Do you think that we should force certain books on people, because of their literary and historical significance? Or is it more important to let people read what interests them? And should classic literature be opened up to consider writers from different backgrounds?
Let me know all your thoughts below! Let’s get the discussion going 🙂
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