We all know that classics can be a bit intimidating and scary, but they don’t need to be. Most of us avoid reading classics because we associate it with school or we think we simply aren’t intelligent enough to read them. And I use to think like that too. But then I challenged myself to set aside my preconceived ideas of classics beings prestigious and actually read them. So, over the past few months, I have developed a some hacks that help me with reading classics and I wanted to share them all with you!
- Read the genres you actually like!
Now, this might seem obvious when talking about modern or contemporary novels but people forgot the same rule applies for classics too. People often group classics of all genres together as just ‘classics’ when actually, this includes a huge range of different genres. If you wouldn’t read contemporary romance novels then you probably won’t get on with Jane Austen’s work or if you’re not a fan of mysteries then I would suggest staying away from Arthur Conan Doyle. Look at the genre of books you like to read from contemporary authors and apply that to classics. Simple!
2. Read them with a friend as a buddy read or join a classics book club!
When I started to read more classics, this is something that really helped me. I joined the Let’s Get Classical Book Club, where each month we vote on a classic novel from a certain theme or genre. This book club runs a monthly photo competition and has a live book club discussion at the end of the month to chat about the book.
Similarly, in August I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen as part of Classics Club which is run by @whisperingwomen over on instagram, as well as so many other lovely booklovers.
Classics Club is a guided comprehension to help you better understand the book. Each week throughout the month a resource pack is uploaded to the website which includes chapter summaries, chapter analysis, key quotations and themes, questions to help you think about what you are reading and even links further readings if you want to dive in deeper.
What I love the most about both of these books clubs is the community aspect. Reading and discussing the book is a way for us to meet new people in the community and make new friends as well as having a great reading experience. I would highly recommend!
3. Try to follow along to the audio book
Sometimes, the language in classic books can be a bit outdated and therefore hard to understand. So what I find really helps me understand the language and keeps me focused and engaged is reading along with the audiobook. You may be wondering, “but I don’t want to buy an audiobook when I already have the physical book :(” so it’s a good thing you don’t have to! Almost all classic books have a free audiobook which you access via Youtube… yes! All you have to do is open the Youtube app or in a browser and type in the book you are reading and voila!
4. Start with a modern classic?
If you are intimidated by classic books, I would recommend starting with some modern classics first. Loads of people have many different definitions for what constitutes as a ‘modern classic’. Luckily, Penguin publishers have a whole modern classics collection which includes over 1,100 books for you to choose from which you can check out here. Some examples and personal recommendations are The Great Gatsby, The Crucible and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
5. Only read classics if you want to!
It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking you have to read classic novels to be a true bookworm, to be intelligent, to seem well educated or whatever it may be. So, before you read a classic, ask yourself if you actually want to read a classic purely for fun or if you only want to read a classic because of the connotations that it brings. And then if you decide that you don’t want to read a classic, that is totally okay! There are plenty of other books to spend your time one that you will enjoy a lot more.
There you have it, my top 5 tips for reading classic novels. Hopefully this helped anyone who is looking to pick up their first classic or reassured anyone who wants to read more of them! Now, I ask you, what is you top tip for reading classic novels?