Posts Tagged ‘Classics’

I’m really immature.

White animals are evil. Except white horses and white albatrosses.

Because that makes sense.

A 135 chapter book about whales is not my cup of tea.

Wishbone Moby DickI miss Wishbone.

Because seriously. That dog knew how to tell a story, man.

Do not put footnotes in your novel.

Who does this? Am I reading a textbook? Because I thought it was a novel.

The anatomy of a whale can take up several long chapters.

You don’t even want to know all the information that’s in my head about whales right now. Information I will never use. Ever.

Whalers are drunks.

Not that we needed proof, but…

Someone out there tell me I’m not the only one who didn’t enjoy Moby Dick. What other classics have you had to push yourself to finish?

Advertisements

I always feel kind of bad thinking this. I mean, I’m an avid reader, AND I’m a writer. Shouldn’t I be completely in love with the classics? It’s like an art history student going up to a painting by Michelangelo and saying, “Meh.”

Some people are going to look at you funny.

But I can’t help it! There are a few “classics” I do enjoy. 1984 is one of my all-time favorite books. I love Lord of the Flies. But beyond that? There are maybe only a few others.

1984 George OrwellIf you read my post about audiobooks on Monday, you’ll know I’ve been using them to listen to the classics because it’s a lot easier for me to get through them that way. I’ve read both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland  and Through the Looking Glass, and I’m just about done with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

And you know what? I didn’t really like them.

Okay, so they’re imaginative, and they’re inspiring and they’ve launched TV shows and movies and toys and a million other things. But I found the writing to be juvenile and the descriptions, in a lot of cases, to be pointless.

Now, this isn’t totally the fault of the author. And this is sort of the point I want to drive home. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written in 1865. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900. These times are a world away from ours. Certain things were expected in stories – things that would be looked down upon by today’s standards. So many descriptions go on for pages and pages and pages. Nowadays? That’d land your MS in the circular file.

So, okay. The classics are hard to relate to. The writing is not the same as we’d expect if we were to pick up a contemporary novel. But what about the story? Wouldn’t that be its saving grace?

Yes, I think that’s where a classic is saved. If you can get through all the junk and read for the meaning of the story, that’s where the love for the novel comes into play. Let’s face it, if you actually enjoy reading A Tale of Two Cities, you might be a bit of a masochist. The writing is so roundabout, so dragged out, that I found myself able to get through only a few pages at a time. (This was before I discovered the joy of audiobooks, which probably would’ve brought this story more to life than my imagination was able to.)

But once you read the words and reflect back on the story, the love for the character arc and journey the characters went on becomes apparent. It’s only after the fact that the story becomes what we treasure. While we’re reading it? It’s torture. At least, that’s how I feel.

And sometimes I think people love the classics just because they’re classics. And I don’t get that. Maybe that’s why I feel so guilty when I say I have a hard time getting through them – shouldn’t I love them all if reading and writing are such a big part of my life?

Maybe. But maybe not. I think everyone should read the classics and try to understand them. But you don’t have to like them. A like for those stories, just like any other story, is subjective. And it isn’t required. Just because you don’t like Macbeth doesn’t mean you haven’t read it and doesn’t mean you don’t understand it. It just means you didn’t like it. Plain and simple.

Or, at least, that’s what I’m telling myself to ease the guilt.

What do you guys think? Are you advocates of the classics, or do you have trouble with them too? Are there any that you absolutely love? Are there any that you feel guilty about not liking?

Alice's Adventures in WonderlandYesterday at my check-in for ROW80 I told you guys I started listening to audiobooks. This is actually my first experience with audiobooks, and…I don’t know how I feel about them just yet.

I’m having that same internal struggle I had when I started reading eBooks. I feel like it’s cheating in a way, but at the same time, it’s still the same information. I’m still experiencing a story, even if I’m not reading it myself.

I’ve made a list of pros and cons to figure how I really feel about audiobooks. (The lists are pretty much dead even.) Feel free to chime in and let me know what you think about them or if you have any points to add to my list.

Pros

  • More visual: When listening to an audiobook, the story seems to come more alive for me. The verbs are more visual. You can’t focus on the words and the way they look, which I guess is what I often do when reading. Instead, you have to focus on the images those words produce in your mind. Now, I always picture a book as I read it, but I realized that with an audiobook, the images just seem to be more vivid.
  • Multitasking: This is probably my favorite thing about audiobooks. There are some things I have to do for work or otherwise that, frankly, don’t take a lot of brain power. So I can put on an audiobook while I do these tasks, and not only am I getting work done, but I’m reading too! It’s really a great way to keep myself occupied.
  • Personality of the narrator: The personality of the narrator enhances the story a great deal. Sometimes there are multiple narrators, which is always fun, and sometimes it’s just one person. Either way, it’s nice to hear someone else telling you a story. The people who narrate these books are always enthusiastic about them, and it makes for a more interesting experience.
  • Read the classics: I have trouble reading all those classics, but I’ve started listening to them as audiobooks and it’s made the experience a lot easier. Not only can I get through one of them a lot quicker (in a couple of hours instead of weeks at a time), but it makes the story come alive in ways I have trouble with when I read it myself. I actually have a lot more to say about classics and why they’re so difficult for me, so look for that blog post later this week. For now, suffice it to say that this makes reading everything I should have already been familiar with a lot easier.

Cons:

  • Repetitive: When you read a book, as opposed to listening to it, you don’t notice all the he said, she said dialogue tags. Your eyes just sort of skim over them. But when you have a lengthy dialogue exchange, the repetition of these dialogue days can be quite annoying. This is especially true when you have multiple narrators, because you don’t need this information repeated. Additionally, I find the use of adverbs – when totally necessary in the story – is unnecessary in an audio book. When a narrator says, “The cat climbed up the tree,” he said wryly, his voice already sounds wry. Therefore, the adverbs just get annoying because the narrator’s tone has already implied what a reader would need to know if they were merely reading the book.
  • Not good for visual learners: I’m a visual learner, and listening to audiobooks has proven difficult. I have a hard time keeping track of characters, even when there are different voices to help ease the transition. There’s just something about seeing the character name written out that makes it a lot easier to file that information away in my brain.
  • Narrator’s interpretations: This does sort of go against what I sent in the list of pros, but I think it is a separate occurrence. Or, at least, it’s dependent on the narrator. When you read a book, that experience is all your own. The voices of the characters fill your head, and you control the way they sound. However, when a narrator reads the book to you, they interpret the inflections and tones of the characters, and this can be a little jarring if you don’t quite agree with them about how a character says some of their dialogue.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

  • Cheating: I can’t help it. It DOES feel like cheating to me. Or, at the very least, it feels like something completely different from reading a book. Have I truly read Alice in Wonderland? Technically, yes. I’ve experienced the same story everyone else has, despite the fact I’ve listened to it as an audiobook instead of reading it for myself. And, really, there’s nothing wrong with listening to audiobooks. If it gets people to experience a story they would’ve otherwise avoided, then I’m all for it! Perhaps this point goes back to the fact that I’m a visual learner and I have trouble cementing the details into my brain when I just listen to the story. I don’t feel as closely connected to it.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Do you think it’s “cheating”? Are there certain books, like the classics, that you’d rather listen to as an audiobook?