What If I Don’t Want to Read The Classics?

When you’re a writer who doesn’t care about reading Shakespeare or Homer

Like all writers, I love reading.

I don’t go one day without picking up a book and reading in bed or while I have breakfast. I keep a list of books I’ve read and make goals to read a specific number of books every year.

I never thought a lot about what I read.

I’d go the library, look at the shelves, read summaries, and have my pick. Horror. Romance. Young adult novels. Literary. As long as it sounded interesting, I’d take it.

But when I started taking writing seriously and began learning more about it, I kept reading one piece of advice over and over again.

“Read the classics.”

So, I did.

But can I be honest?

…I didn’t like a lot of them.

(Is it strange to be afraid of receiving a hate comment telling me I’m not a real writer because I don’t appreciate genuine literary art?)

Some were written in an omniscient point of view that left me confused half of the time, others sounded obnoxious to me because of the language used, but most of them were just strange and boring.

I’m not hating on classic books

Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

There are some I liked, of course. Frankenstein, The Great Gatsby, Fahrenheit 451 — they were all great books. But the truth is, as much as I enjoyed reading them, I’m not going to seek out classics actively.

If I want to read one (Dracula, for example, is on my reading list), I will.

But if I don’t want to read a classic in the next few years because I’m not interested, I’m not going to feel guilty about it.

I’m a writer who doesn’t give a shit about reading the classics. So what?

What’s the issue with me wanting to read books only published this year, in the last five years, or after the 1980s?

I know I can learn from classic books because people still read them decades and even centuries after they were written, but I don’t want to. It’s that plain and simple.

I liked the classic books I read, but I loved Beartown. I love Stephen King’s newer books best. I love The Hate U Give and Internment.

I like what I can relate to now, books that use the language I’m accustomed too, and books that move quickly and don’t have paragraph after paragraph of narrative summary and setting descriptions.

Who gives a shit?

I don’t want to struggle and have to look up words people don’t even use

Shakespeare is too difficult to understand. I could learn how to read his stuff, but I don’t want to.

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

Call me fake. Call me uneducated. Call me stupid. Call me what you want, but it still won’t make me want to read it unless I decide I want to.

Why do I have to like, know, read, or listen to something classic to be seen as intelligent? It’s pretentious.

Are you so brilliant you can’t fathom how someone could not want to read Homer or Charles Dickens?

I understand these books. They’re just not my taste, and that doesn’t make me any less intelligent. I can understand something and not like it.

In summary

Let me read what I want to read.

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