Reader Rambles: On Classics and Reading Slumps

Classic Authors

“A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.”
Mark Twain

I’ve always loved reading. Ever since I was a little girl, the only present I wanted for birthdays or holidays was a new book. I loved spending time at the library. I loved spending time in imaginary worlds. My love of reading was pretty much a constant in my life.

Of course reading slumps happened every now and then. But usually after a month or so at the most I was back in the game. Until high school…

High school was where I had the biggest reading slump I ever had. And I know the exact reason behind it, because it was because of one reason, and one reason only: forced reading and subsequent overdose of the classics.

Now, I’m not against reading classics. I’m a pretty big fan of them actually. We had a big list at school of like a 100 of the biggest classics which we had to know by heart. I loved that. I made it my personal goal to read each and every one of them in my life. And we had to read a lot of them for school already. Which I also loved and applauded.

But then I ended up ONLY reading books I had to for school. And while some of the classics I really enjoyed and flew through (Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, The Catcher in the Rye), others were just really tough to get through (Wuthering Heights, I’m looking at you!). And the truth is, a lot of the classics are written in a different time and they just have a different writing style that can be tough to get into. So I was forcing myself to read while I wasn’t really enjoying it, which led to what I like to call “The Great Reading Slump of 2003.”

(Side note: After about a year and a half, I eventually escaped the dreaded reading slump with the help of a little book series called Harry Potter)

Do I think classics are pretty important and should still be taught at school?

YES. They are still super important and should be read and studied because they can teach us so many valuable lessons. I will always keep pushing for people to read more classics.

Do I think the classics should be taught or promoted in a different way?

YES. Make students read the classics. But:

  1. Slow it down. Mix it up with some more contemporary reads. Give students room to read the books they want to read themselves. Don’t push a reading slump on them. The most important thing you can teach kids is just the LOVE of books. And the classics will follow naturally.
  2.  Find new and interesting ways to do this. I recently discovered an app called iClassics. Their aim is to save the classics and modernize them. Basically they provide some classics in interactive and fun kind of ebook format, with gorgeous animated art and an orginal soundtrack.iClassicsThis is the kind of way to read the classics that would be interesting and fun for students. I would have loved to be able to read the classics like this and I think that major reading slump could even have been avoided. To be honest though, I went to high school in the Dark Ages, before there was such a thing as tablets. But still, this would have been so cool!

Some facts about iClassics

  • So far, iClassics has created interactive collections of five authors – Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Conan Doyle – in 3 languages: English, Spanish and French – available for iOS devices – iPhone and iPad. (Android apps are in the works)
  • All these apps are already available to download on the AppStore (€3.99)
    Link to App Store
  • BUT you can also give it a try for free with Free Lite iClassics Showcase.
    Link to Showcase (free)
  • They are currently running a Kickstarter campaign #SaveTheClassics to enlarge their collection, but what I especially like about it is that for every Euro raised, one student will get free access to the iClassics. Which I think is a wonderful goal and I hope will give a lot of students the opportunity to enjoy the classics in a fun and interactive way (without falling into a reading slump)
What do you think? Are you a fan of the classics? Do you think they are a must in school or not? Did you already know about iClassics? Or do you know any other ways that would help promote the classics?