Sunday, September 19, 2010

Me and the Greats: Not Exactly BFFs

I like the idea of reading great literature much more than I like actually reading it. I'd love to be one of those people whose favorite authors are the great dead ones who were only truly appreciated after their deaths and whose works have endured hundreds of years, still studied in university classes today.

But I'm not that person.

Sure, there are a few classic literary tomes I adore. GONE WITH THE WIND is my favorite novel and I've got a huge fondness for THE GREAT GATSBY, but mostly reading "the greats" feels a lot like work.

Right now I have Franz Kafka's THE METAMORPHOSIS next to me. The story itself is only something like 43 pages (and no, I haven't read it yet), yet on the very first page there are four (four!) footnotes, explaining things like the origin of the protagonist's name and what a "normal human room" looks like. And I'm so very sorry, but I honestly don't care about a discussion of the term "monstrous vermin." Seriously. I get that it's a vermin. A monstrous one.

And this, probably, is why I fail. Because I like stories and I really don't care too much about the rest of it, generally. I mean, yeah, obviously I run a review site so I do care about the elements of writing and what makes a story great (or not so great) and ideas and inspiration and all of that, but literature-analysis-y type stuff? I feel a bit lost. It becomes a lot more like homework (which, I understand, it is homework) and it really makes me want to not read it.

So what about you guys... do you like reading great literature? Do you like reading it for school or are you one of those rare people who reads it for fun? And, because I honestly do have an interest in "the greats" (as much as readings for school and analyses annoy me), what are some classic works of literature that I should read?


  1. I don't normally enjoy reading classics; it takes me longer to get into the stories because I begin reading expecting them to be difficult.

    But, one I ended up really liking is Wuthering Heights. If you haven't tried it, I suggest it.

  2. Wuthering Heights is one I haven't read, but I should give it a try. When I do find a classic I like, it becomes one of my FAVORITE. BOOKS. EVER.