Books Miscellaneous

The Classics… Are They Overrated?

I started reading classic books from quite a young age, although they were few and far between, and they were obviously children’s classics. I was bought The Secret Garden, my first classic read, and I absolutely loved it! My grandparents then bought me Alice In Wonderland, which I thoroughly enjoyed as well. I then went years without reading classic books, not really finding any to take my fancy. I then decided to download Little Women on my Kindle (for free) after hearing it mentioned in a Friends episode. I really got into the first half of the book, then I put it down, and haven’t started it up again since (although I really should because I so want to find out what happens to Beth and whether Laurie ends up with any other March sisters)! I also had to read the traditional Watering Heights by Emily Brontë for my English exam at GCSE, which I loathed! As you may know, I am half way through To Kill A Mockingbird, which has been recommended to me several times, and I am really liking it at the moment. I also have The Great Gatsby, The Catcher In The Rye and The Bell Jar (recently added) on my TBR list.

The point of this post, however, was not to tell you about the classic books I have read or plan to read, but mainly to ask my readers what you think about the power of the classics? Do you think it is bad people think you have to read the classics to be classed as a ‘hard-core bookworm’. Do you think it really matters if you are massive fan of Austen or Brontë, or if you have a copy of every single Vintage possible to collect? Do you enjoy reading classics? Do you find them hard to read, and find you have to really concentrate to understand the story? Or do you prefer more contemporary books, and have never picked a classic up in your life? The main question here is: are classics overrated? By overrated, I more mean do you think people are pressured into reading them because they think it will make them a better reader, writer, or more respected in the world of books?

Post you opinion in the comments below. I am curious to see what everyone thinks about the wonderful/terrifying world of classics!

By bookmuffin

I like books and tea. MA Children's Literature student.

2 replies on “The Classics… Are They Overrated?”

I have gained much pleasure and knowledge in reading classics.
I think many people hold the erroneous idea that classics are heavy,archaic books.They tend to forget that there are modern classics(books written in the end of the 19th century and onwards) as well.I,for one,like reading modern classics,like Anna Karenina,Borges’s stories,Lord of the Flies ,and so on.As a matter of fact,the classics you mentioned in your post are all modern ones.

That being said,I don’t think the classics written way before the modern ones are bad or anything.I know several persons who enjoy reading them.They just are not my type of literature.

And to answer your question,yes.I think people gain really much from reading classics.There are books which are just works of art (The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina,for example) and some remain stuck to your mind,as they still remain as relevant today as they were ages ago (The Trial and Lord of the Flies come to mind).If ever you decide to read a lot of classics,you will see that they’re all unique and thus beautiful in their own way.That’s what differentiates them from the commercial books of today,which,I opine,are intrinsically the same.The only books of our era that hold the same value as classics are winners and nominees of prestigious literary prizes,like the Booker Prize for example.

That was a long comment.


I completely agree, some people have very different ideas as to what classics are. Some people may think as far back as Shakespeare, but as you aptly pointed out I do enjoy more modern classics, as, I assume, do most people, as they are definitely easier to read. I also agree with you in the fact that I don’t think older literature is bad literature, I just don’t personally enjoy reading it myself. I am so pleased that I have read some classics, even if I haven’t read a lot of them, because they offer a lot of insight compared to how literature has evolved, when you compare it to more contemporary novels.
I also think it’s really nice that classics live on for a long time. I understand that Harper Lee is actually releasing a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird, bring the story back to life in the present day, reviving it for some of the first readers, and introducing the book to readers who may not have had the joy of being engrossed in such a wonderful story.
I find that, because classics were almost like the first bout of literature, the ideas introduced and the style of writing really are unique, and a lot of contemporary literature can always be connected with a classical novel in some way shape or form.
You make some really good points in your comment and I completely agree with your opinion!

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