I’ve wanted to make a ‘Classic Spotlight’ over on my bookstagram @booksandbaking_ for a while now and I am definitely going to incorporate it with my blog. So I thought for my first ‘Classic Spotlight’ post, I would share my Top 10 Tips on Reading Classics and create a blog post for it!
So, Classics…where to start? I think the top 2 reasons people are put off by classics is because of the language and because they can be quite intimidating. But hopefully my tips will help you to navigate the genre. I am by no means an expert when it comes to classics, but with my undergraduate degree in English Literature I definitely read my fair share of classics and think I can share some good advice! So here are my Top 10 Tips on Reading Classics.
1.Ask yourself why you want to read classics
It’s quite simple really, but the first question you should ask yourself is why? Why do you want to read classics? Is it because you are interested in them, or because you feel like you need to read them? This can honestly impact your reading so when you are picking up your first classics, go for something you are genuinely interested in, rather than something you think is a ‘must read’ book. Build yourself up to reading those ‘must reads’! If you like romance, go for Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and if you like mysteries, go for a Sherlock Holmes mystery by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!
If you are struggling to grasp the plot of the book, watch an adaptation either before or as you are reading! I know this may not be a particularly ‘bookish’ recommendation, of watching an adaptation before reading the book but I think that it works really well! When I read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell for university, I struggled to grasp bits of it as it is quite dense, so watching the series adaptation really helped me to understand the plot!
Audiobooks can be life changing when reading classics! Many classics have small fonts and that is something that I personally struggle with when reading books, so audiobooks can be your best friend here. But make sure to look around for the right narrator because that can make a huge difference! There’s loads of classic audiobooks on YouTube so check that out if you don’t have a subscription.
Summaries can be so helpful! I’m not just talking about a book summary, but reading chapter summaries after you’ve read a chapter can be really useful. I did this with some classics I read for university when I was unsure of the plot and its a great way to make sure you understand what is actually happening.
5. Starting Small
If you want to read a big classic (in size or expectation) by a particular author, start small and read one of their smaller books. I have recently found the Penguin Little Black Classics on Waterstones and they are a great and cheap way of introducing a particular author’s writing. I love The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and although I haven’t read it, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crimes a collection of short stories by Wilde seems like a good place to start!
6. Starting Even Smaller
It can be quite daunting to read classics when you are new to the genre, so start even smaller and read poems, short stories or novellas before diving into a bigger novel! This is a good way to get used to the different writing styles of different authors and from different time periods!
7. Children’s Classics
Reading childhood favourites are an amazing way to get into classics. I’ve got a whole post dedicated to this which I’m posting soon so I’ll keep it short. Read a book you loved as a child, whether that be James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl or The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. They’re not only classics, but they are fun to read!
8. Buddy Reads
Buddy read a classic with someone! I’ve done several buddy reads in a variety of genres (mainly YA and thrillers), but I have just finished a buddy read of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee with a friend and it was really helpful to discuss my thoughts and the story with someone else! This way, you can ask any questions you may have and have a really interesting discussion about the book.
9. Have an open mind
Classics are not all doom and gloom, it just takes some time to find the right type of classic for you! Whether you enjoy longer novels and would prefer a Dickens novel such as Great Expectations, or whether you like plays and would prefer a Shakespeare play such as King Lear, just explore classics. They are so much more than the literary canon and I’m going to do a future blog post with classics that I think are underrated!
10. Patience is key
This may not be a tip you was expecting, but having patience with yourself and the book is very important. There’s some classics that you can grasp really quickly and some that will need a bit more time. As someone who has studied English Literature, I know what it is like to read a classic you do not enjoy (Robinson Crusoe, I’m talking about you!), but just stick with it and try my other tips. Hopefully you will get there, if not, pick up another!
Happy Reading! I hope these tips help. Let me know what Classics you enjoy in the comments!