I have spent the last ten or so posts discussing how to read the classics, and suggesting, through lists and reviews what to read, but any valuable discussion of reading the classics will also include thoughts on why we even should bother.
Before that post (coming Friday!), I want to say this first: It is totally okay if you don’t. Don’t read. Don’t read the classics.
Yesterday I was in a discussion about reading. Actually, I mostly listened while the others discussed, because the topic was about finding time to read. I read between 75-100 books every year, so this is not a problem for me. But I was very interested in the other perspectives, because sometimes for me reading is so natural that I forget people struggle with it, and that they have various (very legitimate) reasons for struggling: it’s been forced on them as an assignment, their lives are busy with other things, they read a lot already as a student and don’t find more reading relaxing. . . even I start watching a whole lot of TV when I’m in the stressful middle of the semester teaching. Reading takes energy that TV doesn’t.
Reading takes work and practice and sometimes discipline. If you weren’t a reader when you were a kid, it might be harder for you to begin reading the classics. If you really want to, but struggle, try establishing a regular reading habit first. Read whatever strikes your interest – YA, romance, historical fiction – and once you regularly finish books (whatever regularly looks like for you), throw a short classic from a similar genre into the mix. Build from there.
The good news is that you can get better at reading. So don’t write yourself off!
Now, all of this is for adults who just want to read out of interest. If you’re a student in a literature class, things are different. Technically, you do have to read the book. Look out for another post about how to handle that in a couple of weeks.