Monday, January 26, 2009

Weekly Geeks- my first!

Here are the questions I chose from this week’s topic:

1) How do you feel about classic literature? Are you intimidated by it? Love it? Not sure because you never actually tried it? Don’t get why anyone reads anything else? Which classics, if any, have you truly loved? Which would you recommend for someone who has very little experience reading older books? Go all out, sell us on it!

3) Let’s say you’re vacationing with your dear cousin Myrtle, and she forgot to bring a book. The two of you venture into the hip independent bookstore around the corner, where she primly announces that she only reads classic literature. If you don’t find her a book, she’ll never let you get any reading done! What contemporary book/s with classic appeal would you pull off the shelf for her?

I love the classics. I loved reading them in school and it's a treat nowadays. My favorites are Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, Persuasion by Jane Austen and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I would recommend someone new to "classics" start with Jane Austen, because she is very approachable and her work will feel familiar to readers of light contemporary fiction.

For Myrtle I would choose a recent Booker Prize winner, like Life of Pi or Oscar and Lucinda, or something like All the King's Men or Breakfast at Tiffany's or Possession or The Name of the Rose. These are all modern literary classics.

Oftentimes I hear people say "I want to read what regular people are reading- not the 'classics'!", as though certain kinds of books are reserved for cappuccino-sipping cultural elites, and others are reserved for "Joe Six Pack." This argument seems to be more about social class than books per se. First of all, people from all walks of life read all kinds of things, and it's not fair to stereotype books by who you think reads them. Secondly, the books that we call classics nowadays- Dickens for example- were often bestsellers in their day, read by thousands and thousands of "regular people" all over. It wasn't just highbrow types who read Great Expectations when it came out- it was everybody. And that's what makes a lot of these books into "classics"- that they're really good books that a lot of people have loved over the years. They may reflect a different style of writing than what we see today, but that's only because styles change and those books are from a different time.

So that's all for my first Weekly Geeks.