As well as a love for reading for pleasure, I also have always adored studying literature, but I can definitely understand that reading the big ole’ classics can be pretty daunting and, lets be honest, not all that appealing. HOWEVER, I find that the classics have been some of the most rewarding books to read, and so today I wanted to go through some of my top tips for reading classics, as well as some recommendations to get you going!
One tip that can be super helpful is to use audiobooks: sometimes, reading a classic with all the dense language can be so confusing, but when it is read aloud you spend less time figuring out what is going on and more time taking in the story, which makes the task a lot less daunting. Added bonus is that you can’t see the size of the book to scare you off!
One chapter at a time
My second piece of advice is to take the book a chapter at a time rather than trying to rush through it. Different writing styles can make understanding a novel so hard, but taking it slowly and committing to taking the info in can really help and will often mean you get the most from the book.
My next tip leads on from the taking it slow idea and is probably the reason why I actually enjoyed reading is because I was noticing things about the book and really taking the time to enjoy all of the little details.
This may be a controversial one, but adaptations are a great way to just get a grips on understanding the direction of the novel, the setting, and everything that is going on. Again, this just means that you spend less time figuring out what the hell is going on and more time actually enjoying the story when you are reading.
If adaptations don’t work for you because you don’t want to spoil the book, reading a chapter summary on spark notes right before or right after you read the chapter or on areas where you got lost can be a great way to ensure you’re getting all the juicy bits out of the book.
Get to know the context
Another really useful tip is to use the context info and introductions that often come at the start of the classics, these tend to explain: the context at the time of publishing, the author’s state of mind, how people received the book, and how it has developed over time. This gives you the key info you need surrounding the book so that you aren’t going into reading it completely blind.
Now onto some of my fave classics to get you into them! I’ve given you a super short vibe for each of them so you can pick which seems the most you ❤
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: this book follows a woman who weds a man and moves into his house, where his ex-wife Rebecca, now dead, seems to be everywhere she goes.
- The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald: needs no introduction, follows a man and his fixation with Jay Gatsby, a mysterious wealthy man who throws the most INSANE parties in his mansion
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: a really amazing gothic novel which follows Dorian, who makes a wish that he stays young and beautiful and his portrait ages in his place
- Emma by Jane Austen: this is the book that inspired the movie Clueless and it is so fun and incredible!