Why One Should Read Classics.

Although I tend to write more science fiction than anything else, and I find that science fiction classes are not always the easiest to find, I have a special place on my inner bookshelf for classics. I actually read enough classics in highschool, and as such, I will never say not to read a classic merely because it is old.

Because of that, I have come up with five reasons why you should read classic books as writer.

1) They are all well written.

That may seem silly, I know, but think about it this way. You go to WalMart or Barnes & Nobel, and you pick up a book that is said to be a New York Times bestseller. That book may be popular, but it was written–what?–two years ago? Who says where it will be in the next five.

Compare that to we’ll say a Jane Austin book. That book has been around for almost two hundred years.  By the mere fact that it is still read two hundred years after it was written, we can be pretty certain that it is good.

3) They didn’t waste words.

Two hundred years ago, they didn’t have computers. They didn’t even have typewriters. All books were handwritten, copy by copy. Personally, if I had to write each copy of my story out, I probably would have given up writing a long time ago. I most certainly would be very careful not to use any more words than I need to. So they demonstrate good writing, while not saying too much.

2) They have some of the best examples of good writing.

All writers look to find the best examples of dialogue, narration, character development, ect. At least, all writers should be. Why not read how to develop these from books that are older, and from a time when people spent more with each other? This goes back to the last one, but still stands on its own, because sometimes the best way to see how a character develops the best is to read it from a really, really good book.

I have done that with The Three Brides, and it actually worked for character development.

Now, besides that, many of them were written in a time period when it took a lot less to shock people. As such, you can see how to take something small and make it serious.

4) They’re not all bad.

This sounds really bad, coming from someone who has been singing about the praises of classics. However, when I first thought about reading classics, I thought, “Boring.” Really! With the exception of Hemmingway, I have found very few classics that are truly boring. And what is better to say?

“I don’t like Hemmingway.”

“Why not?”

“He’s just so old!”

Or

“I don’t like Hemmingway.”

“Why not?”

“I’ve read two or three of his books and they just didn’t sit with me. Not to mention he’s not that clean.”

5) They are long.

This is an added bonus. See, what would you rather read? A two hundred page book where you get friends and then lose them, or a five hundred page book where you can gain your friends and keep them longer before you lose them? Personally, the longer the book the better.

So where do you find these books? There are numberous itouch apps that have them, so you can carry them around. I don’t know if ibook does (I just downloaded that.) but look around and you can find some.

Also, Project Gutenburg contains a lot of out-of-print books for free. I’d suggest starting with either the top 100 downloaded books or by starting with one of my favorite authors, Charlotte Mary Yonge.

Anyone have any other recommendations on what to read?

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About Abigail

I'm an elementary education major at a college in the Midwest. I might graduate as early as December '13 but more likely May '14. I write when I can. I also knit on occasion, draw, do homework and contradict teachers to make people think. :)

2 responses to “Why One Should Read Classics.”

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