Thursday, July 9, 2009

Not That Classic

Oh how I want to be an intellectual. I want to be that charming, sophisticated - yet incredibly beautiful - woman who surprises you with scintillating conversation about neoclassic architecture and the geo-political ramifications of bioengineering.

I want to spend at least an hour every day in my mahogany paneled library, sitting in a plush high backed chair near the fire reading literature that shaped and changed the world.

I think classic literature is important. Perhaps even classic movies, too. And if I am ever to be important (and I would be lying if I said I didn't) then I need to be current on important stuff, right?

Lately, I've been trying to read a lot of classic books that I've never read before. To round myself out and experience these masterpieces that have touched the world so deeply. And here's my confession: most of them are so boring I have to gnaw my fingertips off to stay awake!

What is wrong with me?

Don't get me wrong...I've enjoyed some of the classics. The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite book. I loved The Inferno by Dantes. I ate up Wuthering Heights. And Huckleberry Finn was a great read, too. Heck, I even enjoyed The Iliad and The Odyssey.

But I couldn't get through Sense and Sensibility. Fahrenheit 451. Robinson Crusoe. Seriously, is something wrong with me?

As much as I want to be a classic snob I have to confess that I'm not. I'm commercial. I like the murder-thriller-mysteries you can buy at the check out line in Wal-mart. I like flippant chick lit. I really like young adult novels about the rough teenage years.

And movies are the same way. One year Justin and I decided to watch every Oscar-nominated movie. Holy boring! Not that there wasn't some merit to those movies. Not that they weren't a good experience. But I didn't have fun. Give me some slapstick comedy or a total formula-driven rom-com instead. I'll eat it up.

I think a lot of people will agree that Oscars always go to the "weird" movies. And I think books that get labeled as classics are also a little on the "weird" side.

And now that I am acknowledging and embracing my nature, you'll find me in my mahogany panelled library in a plush high back chair sitting by a crackling fire re-reading Twilight or thumbing through the latest issue of People. And guess what? I could honestly care less about the geo-political ramifications of trashy literature!

P.S. Fifty-eight percent of adults haven't read a book since high school. That's more than half! Is it because we feel judged for liking Harry Potter better than War and Peace? If that's what it takes, dump the boring classics and get lost in something juicy, fun, and -gasp!- commercial.


Amy said...

I definitely agree that it's better to read something fun, than to read nothing at all. I've been trying to read through the classics, also, and some of them really are very boring. I would much rather read a chick-lit or a young adult book. I know there are good things to learn from the classics, but it's sure taking me a long time to read each of them. ;)

Melissa said...

I am with you girl! I LOVE LOVE LOVE to read but I do it to escape life not to earn a literary degree! I read EVERYDAY; sometimes I think I may be addicted. I can't go to sleep at night unless I have read even a couple pages. I keep the dollar store in business buying their little reading lights so I don't keep Justin awake!

Kristen Mackrory said...

How ironic that you posted this because it is right along what I have been thinking about lately. I recently read an article in the Ensign that talked about being refined and part of that was reading the classics. It instilled in me a desire to become more refined...until I thought about how much I disliked so many books in my AP English class. "Heart of Darkness", "Crime and Punishment," "The Great Gatsby" etc. I remembered how hard it was to read them and haven't been able to find the motivation to quit reading the enjoyable books I already have checked out of the library and read something that will bore me out of my mind (Although I have come to the realization that I might enjoy them more now that I understand the world a little bit better than I did back in the days of high school). Maybe I should try reading one of those that you liked that I haven't read yet. That might be a good solution. Thanks for helping me figure it out!
And, yes, I can tell you love cheese and I love all of your comments! Especially ones about stinky feet. :)

Jess,Von, and Samantha Higgs said...

Oh you are so funny Lara! I honestly love to read young adult novles! Those are my guilty pleasure! Have you ever read Goose Girl by Shannon Hale? It is awesome, or Enchantment by Orson Scott Card! I also love the commercial! I have tried to read the classics and found myself at a loss! I rarely like the Oscar winning movies, They are not the best!

Linds said...

Mark Twain said, “A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.”
Lately I've been trying to read more current fiction - recommendations from independent booksellers and such - and it hasn't worked out so well. I like some of it, but mostly feel like I'm wasting my time. There seems to be a correlation between the popularity of a book and how much I hate it; I guess I'm just a book snob.

Because I was an English major I was exposed to lit from all genres and, I admit, there are sweeping movements in literature I could simply do without having read (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man = hours of my life I will never get back). But, there are some classics that have changed the way I look at the world and moved me beyond my ability to express. Maybe you just need to find your favorite themes or periods in classic literature.

Anyway, I love your candid post. I hope your first day back at work went well!

Meagan Spaulding said...

I have to say that besides my required reading in college I didn't do any "fun" reading. Not until I was on maternity leave and read books that we had in the house while I was nursing, and then you told me about the squeals to "The Giver", then Twilight series, now we're in a book club. I think I feel much more fulfilled when I am reading books often, even if it is "fun" books.

Liz Smith said...

oh my goodness...AGREED! i was in AP English in high school and then in college i was a history major so i have had to read my fair share of intellectual, serious blah blah blah. now i just like to read fun stuff. i loooove to read! send me a list of fun books you always looking for new stuff. :)


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