Friday, September 30, 2011

From The Trenches - Maggie: The Classics

The past few weeks (as assigned reading) I've had the irreplaceable joy of reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.

Okay, that was totally sarcastic! I have a bit of trouble with Dickens's wordiness and it may just be among the slowest books I've ever read, but I'm still enjoying it to some degree. I like the depth of his characters and his dry humor, and I'm really appreciating the rich language. Hence, this post.

I speak for myself, personally, when I say that it's very easy to fall into a pattern of reading YA and nothing but YA. It's easy to get used to the quick pace, the easy language, and did I mention the quick pace?

It's even easier to overlook the classics, the more difficult reads, etc. For me, this is the first classic I've picked up in months! And I didn't even do it of my own accord.

It got me thinking about classics in general, and the language they use (vs. that you find in YA books) and how it would probably be better for me, just as a writer AND reader, to read a classic now and then. For the sake of my vocabulary, if anything.

So, my questions to you are: What are your favorite classics? How often do you read classics? What's your general opinion (of classics)? Should we read them more or less? Why?

I'd love to know!

And I want to offer a quick apology. I feel like my FTC posts haven't been the most imaginative, and that's mostly because I wait until the first day of the month to scramble and think of something to post. So I have a plan: I'm going to write out several ideas/posts, so I always have one at the ready!

See you next month!

NOTE: Ooops! I had my dates wrong. Today was the 30th of September, NOT the 7th of October! From The Trenches will resume on the 14th. Sorry for the mistake!


  1. What I tend to do is read a whole bunch of classics, then not read them for ages. But I do like classics (the non the-world-is-so-gloomy ones, mostly). My favorite is Pride & Prejudice. Les Miserables was good too, though... talk about wordy. O_O

    And you should read them just as much as you read anything else. That is all I have to say. :P

  2. I don't really read classics unless it's for school, so I haven't read a classic in about a year!

    I've only read a couple of classics, but my favourite would have to be Shakespeare's Hamlet (even though I had to do 2 pieces of assessment on it, so my brain was ready to leak out of me head by the end of the semester).

    I think you're right in that reading classics are good for us as writers and readers. The other day someone was talking about Huckleberry Finn, and I decided that I should read it "one day when I have nothing else to read". This post may be the prompting I need to look it up in my library and read it.

  3. LOL I remember David Copperfield.I read it, like, 3 years ago because I was bored sometime over the summer. I could only get to the middle and then I opted to see the PBS movie (with little Daniel Radcliffe!) instead because I wanted to know what happens but was too lazy to read it all. I remember hearing somewhere that writers like Dickens got paid for how many words they wrote so that's why a lot of the writers in that period tried to drag things on as much as possible. Not sure if this is true or not but if it is, it'd sure explain the wordiness!

    I love Shakespearan plays, books by Jane Austen/the Bronte sisters, A Tale of Two Cities, Count of Monte Cristo, books by Victor Hugo, and...a lot actually. I probably read as many classics as I read YA. I think we should read as much classics as possible because there are A LOT of great, unique examples of writing out there. Like, one of the best examples of dystopia? 1984. Brave New World. (LOVE THEM BOTH.)

    I find it that listening to the audio books of extremely wordy books like the ones by Dickens helps a lot. I balked when I saw the book for A Tale of Two Cities but once I started the audio book it was so good that I couldn't stop listening to it. But then again, I just might be a little too bookish for my own good. :P

  4. On second thoughts, perhaps I *do* read more classics than I give myself credit for. Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia are classics, right?

  5. @Constance Yep! That's what I tend to do. (Surprise, surprise! :P) But then I'll go through huge chunks of time without reading any. (One I just came out of! :P)

    @Matthew Oooh! I still have yet to finish that. I read, like, the first few pages and got tired of it. But I was younger then, so perhaps "when I have the time" I'll read it. Hehe!

    @Lyla YES! They did get paid by the word! I heard that too. So I always have to admit that if I were paid by the word, I'd use every word I possibly could. :P So I don't blame him. And at least they're interesting words! Every chapter has a mini vocabulary lesson in it (and that's even truer whilst reading Jane Austen!)

    Audiobooks are good, if they're well-narrated! I'm picky about voices I'd listen to, and I'm also visual, so I like to *see* the words... and somehow I find it satisfying to say I've READ a book. HOWEVER, if a book is too boring, I'd definitely consider an audiobook! Definitely!

    @Matthew Yes, I think those ARE classics... I would say so. Classics doesn't necessarily mean Jane Austin, Shakespeare, Dickens, etc.

    Oh, and on second thought, I think my favorite classic is Jane Eyre. For SURE. *should have mentioned this in post*

  6. I am very strange.

    I love . . .



    Give me your Dostoyevsky, your Solzhenitsyn, your Tolstoy! Big, fat books. I heart them so.

    My love affair began with Solzhenitsyn's THE FIRST CIRCLE and continued through THE BROTHERS KARAMOZOV, WAR AND PEACE, and CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (OMG C&P, so much love!), etc.

    I also loved Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

    Hated Jane Eyre.

    And Lord Jim? *shoots*

    Dr. Faustus was awesome. I love all Shakespeare.

    I am going to stop now. Basically, it depends on the book. George Eliot was great with SILAS MARNER, but MIDDLEMARCH? Not so much.

    Stopping freals now.

  7. OH! I forgot one very important author.


    I read THE STRANGER because of Hannah Moskowitz's INVINCIBLE SUMMER, and I ADORED it. Opened the door to more Camus for me :)

  8. Interestingly enough, we discussed in our English class that the most common [and most comfortable] reading level that people prefer and enjoy is an eighth grade. I was a little bit shocked about that, but it's true. Nowadays people like more blunt, simple prose.

    I adore classics. I loved To Kill A Mockingbird, anything by Jane Austen, as well as Charles Dickens. (:

  9. AHHHHHH, forgot to mention above but my all-time favorites are SHAKESPEARE! Hamlet is pretty amazing!

  10. You are so adorable! I was wondering why you were posting this in September! :D xoxo

  11. I try to force myself to read classics in order to discover new words and turns of phrase but... it doesn't always work xD I often end up tossing behind my bed, then wondering why I have so many fines! However, I do adore Jane Austen and I've read all of her books several times. I also love Jane Eyre :)

  12. @Lyssa Interesting! I didn't know that. I mean... it makes sense. And yeah, TKAM was awesome!

    @Authoress Oooops! Sorry.

    @Tatiana Hah, I so understand! Jane Austen & Jane Eyre FTW!

  13. Yikes, didn't see this post! Now for le commente. =) I loved Jane Eyre, and I'm liking Emma so far! I got quite a ways into P&P before putting it down and losing my place, so I hope to pick that up again sometime. Also read the first couple chapters of Anna Karenina--all of these are of my own free will. =) I LOVE Shakespeare, also. Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Richard III, A Midnight Summer's Dream, The Taming of the Shrew...I need to read more of his stuff. ^_^