If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might know that classic literature is my favourite “genre” of book. From Austen, to Dickens, to Orwell, to Tolkien…
I thought it would be an interesting idea to write a little bit about how my relationship with classics developed. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they want to get into reading classics but they aren’t sure where to start, or they find the books boring and struggle to understand them. I’ve always read classics, since I was a little girl, so I thought it might be helpful to discuss my journey with reading them and, hopefully, help a couple of you out along the way.
I started off reading classics when I was a child. I would visit the library every Saturday and pick out three or four books that I would read throughout the week. I spent my week reading books like The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, The Railway Children, Five Children and It, and The Chronicles of Narnia series. These were books that my mum recommended to me as they were books that she read herself as a child.
Gradually, I started to delve into more “adult” classics like A Christmas Carol and The Hobbit. I’d like to say it was because I was becoming more mature and wanting more challenging reads, but I think the reality was that I had completed the children’s section of the library and had no choice!
I started secondary school at age eleven and fell out of love with reading a bit, particularly classics. It wasn’t the “cool” thing to do and it wasn’t possible to read these books at school without people mocking you. That was until I reached years ten and eleven where classic books were heavily studied in English schools for exams. I studied Great Execptations, various Shakespeare plays, The Crucible… I loved studying these books and I didn’t really care if people didn’t think I was cool. From there, I branched out and started to read more classics. I fell in love with Austen, Shelley, Shakespeare, Dickens, the Brontë’s, Orwell and many, many more. These were books that I had always heard people talk about and I didn’t want to miss out on what these books were offering. I had to know what they were about and what I was missing out on so I just kept reading more and more of them.
I love the stories. I love the developed characters, the historical context, the technical skill of classics… I truly think that most classics are classics for a reason and that reason is the simple fact that they are works of art.
I love immersing myself completely in the stories with amazing writing and descriptions. I love learning more about the historical time periods that classics are set. For me, reading classics is a way for me to romanticise my life. The act of reading beautiful books that not only have beautiful messages within them, are full of beautiful writing, but also books that you can collect in beautiful, vintage editions is something that makes my heart so happy. I love picking up a vintage book in my shelf and seeing a message “To John, love Grandad” from 1939. It gives the book a whole new life. I also have this idea in my head of being able to pass on my love of classics to my children and grandchildren and being able to pass my vintage book collection down, spreading the classics love.
Great stories will forever remain timeless and my love of classics has always been a constant in my life, though it has had its peaks and troughs. It’s currently at its peak right now and I truly think that it will remain that way for a long, long time to come.
Thanks for reading!
Love, Zoë x