Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Brain on Classics

Once upon a time I read almost only classics. Back in the days before blogging, I was part of an online classics book club and month after month I read and enjoyed those awesome old books! Actually, I loved those books even before there was such a thing as internet. In both high school and college I totally loved them.

Around the time I started keeping track of the books I've read (around 2001), I tried to think back on the few years even before that to remember what I read. Here's just some of the books that appear on that list:

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
A Study in Scarlet
Howard's End
The House of Mirth
The Turn of the Screw
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Northanger Abbey

That was then.

Now, it seems like I yearn and long for these classics, yet when I read them, I find my brain can't focus on them like it used to. It makes me wonder what's happened?!! This is what I've come up with:

The world's technology changed,
....which meant we get information faster and quicker
....leading to the fact that we feel always in a rush to receive information
....and this doesn't work with the slower paced classics
....and then Harry Potter happened
....which lead to the onslaught of YA
....which happened around the time people began blogging
....and everyone started talking up the YA I started reading that over classics
....and those books deliver the message/story/info in a much faster quicker way
....and caused me to lose patience with those slower classics
....and made me anxious and antsy while reading them therefore I find myself wishing them over or shorter or faster
....and then my brain can't focus.

Either that, or I'm just getting too old and my brain is losing it's functioning capacity!

What do you think? Have you enjoyed classics in the past? Do you find them to be "harder" to read than they were before? Or have you yet to discover classics? Do you find yourself nervous to try them because they are "harder?" What would be your reasons that some of us are having this problem these days?


  1. I've never been one for classics. A lot of times they're too slow and too much work. But, I know they're good books and written well, so I try to still read them. I have a two classics per year goal, which I started this year and have managed to succeed with. While they many not be my favorite books, I've enjoyed the ones I've read. Maybe, I've finally mature enough to appreciate them. :)

  2. It's happened a bit to me, too. I have to go into a classic expecting it to take 50 pages or so to get back into the groove of the pace and the language.

    I took an entire course in college on Dickens and LOVED him. A year or so ago, I picked up one of his books and had the hardest time getting into it. So I read it piecemeal, slowly, taking breaks with other books.

    Sure enough, after several chapters, the language and feel that I'd loved returned (like my brain remembered it!) and I loved the rest of it.

  3. This post could have been written by me (except, you wrote it much better!) I've been slogging through a classic right now and really wondering if I'm going to make it! Holy descriptions of scenery, batman, where's the action? In, like, 80 pages nothing of significance has happened. I think I'm too coddled by those faster-paced YA and MG books.

  4. I blame all the easy YA books. Not that they're bad but I definitely find that when I read a bunch my brain gets dumbed down and can't focus on anything. I don't know if it's the real reason or not but it seems to be MY problem. I guess all we can do is keep exercising our brains with more substantial books.

  5. I love reading classics. But I've found it alot easier with my Nook. Reading them digitally, the pages are more bite-sized, easier to manage; the sheer abundance of text less distracting. Plus, I've come to view the classics as something to savor instead of gulping down, so I don't worry about taking my time. I stop and ruminate more.

    Having said that, I also find in general as I'm getting older, that I have less patience to spare with books that just aren't resonating with me, and there are plenty of "classics" that don't. I don't have any desire to waste my time on 100 pages on dull writing, poorly drawn characters, inanities and meandering.

  6. I'm getting more from classics than I used to, but it does take my brain awhile to readjust to their pace and level of detail.

  7. I think you're right. I'm just rediscovering the classics after spending my school years loathing anything I was forced to read (so, classics). They are definitely harder for me to read than the rest of what I pick up. I actually feel like I have to practice reading them, get my brain into shape or something! The good news is, it seems to (sloooowly) be working.

  8. Don’t feel bad about not having read some of the classics, you still have plenty of time.
    Nobody will regret not having read “Moby Dick” or “War and Peace” once they’re dead. But when you are 80 and alive and there is nothing good left to be read, you might regret having rushed through all these volumes earlier.
    Take your time throughout life with good books:



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