The Classics Club: October Meme Question #3

The Classics Club: October Meme Question #3 is — Why are you reading the classics?

I’m reading the classics for sheer, unadulterated preference, pleasure, and delight. The classics are what I gravitate toward naturally. For me, a guilty pleasure is rereading David Copperfield or Jane Eyre.  When my well-meaning aunt or a coworker lend me one of those hot books that everyone is reading, they usually bore me (or make me feel like I’ve been eating potato chips. A few are nice, but they certainly don’t satisfy my appetite).

I’ve always been this way. Remember those summer reading lists from school when you were a kid? Yep, I’d happily devour all the books then read them again for good measure. My mother didn’t know what do to with me, so she would buy me the thickest books she could find. I read War and Peace, Don Quixote, and Anna Karenina this way! I didn’t understand any more than the plot (and I blame my mispronunciation of so many words on reading them and never actually hearing them until years later!) but they fascinated me. These big, ambitious, human nature and beauty and horror encompassing novels set my tastes for life.

I have this very clear memory of reading Romeo and Juliet in 5th grade, and falling in love with the play and the language. That Christmas Eve I spent at my great aunt’s, and I spied the Zeffirelli film being shown on television. Most kids would be stuffing themselves silly and awaiting their presents, but I creeped away to her bedroom to watch Romeo and Juliette by myself! Everyone was like, “Where is Jacqueline?!?!” (You would have thought my experience with Shakespeare in 4th grade might have put me off — we performed Julius Caesar and I was Caesar’s wife. I tripped, and both Caesar and I smashed to the ground in a tangle of bed sheet togas! I still loved the play, but it made me never want to get on stage again!)

I also remember being thrilled with the classic novels we had to read in high school (The Scarlet Letter made a big impression on me) and I am still that girl who did her senior project on Sylvia Plath. I can picture myself in the grandeur of the Philadelphia Free Library’s Central Branch and feeling like lightning bolts were coursing through my body when I first read Daddy, standing in the stacks (Sylvia, I still feel like lightning bolts are coursing through my body when I read Daddy).

It’s no surprise that I became an English Major in college (I already told that story). My first job out of college was working in circulation at the Scott Memorial Library, in the evenings (4-midnight). Despite it being a medical library, it had an amazing general collection. It was like I went to college two more times in those eight years (and I got to set my own curriculum!). I literally had thousands of Great Books (and some very cushy reading chairs) at my fingertips. I used to love when all of our shelving work was done by 10pm and we’d have a good two hours to read before closing, with everything quiet and still.

…and so it has remained. Reading the Classics is just…what I like! I don’t have to force myself, or do it to improve myself, or anything of that sort. It’s just like…wearing dresses! …and adoring my cat! …and drinking tea! …and making my own stuff! A preference, pleasure, and delight.

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12 comments

  1. readinpleasure

    What a wonderful background into the Claasics. I love this post and I am laughing so hard at you and Ceaser tripping. OMG! I also have fond memories of the Classcis dating way back. 🙂

    • jackiemania

      I am the clumsiest person ever — I have so many clumsy Jackie stories 🙂

      I checked out your blog and I’m an Assistant Registrar at a university too! I am so glad to have “met” you through the Classics Club! 🙂 I’m happy you stopped by.

  2. mrsrooster

    I am making a list for my daughter too. We home educate and we read everyday. What a great conversation starter.

    I am stuck in a book rut and hope that this gets me out of it.

    Have a wonderful day.

  3. bzee

    Wow, yes, it’s a great kind of satisfaction when we read for pleasure but we get priceless value, though we don’t expect it.

    • jackiemania

      He hee – it did wind up being encouraging, but I think my mother was trying to get the most “bang for her buck” since the slimmer books were devoured in a day. She was being practical in her own way 😉

      I recently reread Anna Karenina and it was a total mental workout not to mention that I truly wonder what my child mind made of adultery – I guess I figured it out from my grandmother’s soap operas?

  4. Rachel

    I read War and Peace and Anna Karenina when I was rather young as well! It doesn’t hurt a child to read a book that’s too mature…that just means we have something to grow in to. 😉 Though, admittedly, my young mind was NOT ready to sympathize with Anna. I felt bad that she was in an unhappy marriage, but I didn’t (and don’t) have a lot of sympathy for adulterers in books. I suppose I’m always just going to be one of THOSE prudes. 😉

    • jackiemania

      Rachel – I have sympathy for Anna but I do not like her or condone her behavior. I loved Levin! I so agree about growing into books. I’m STILL growing into books and hope to always be. You know how they say that your body regenerates every seven years? I think we should read our most special books at least every seven years to see what our new brain thinks of them! 😉

  5. MaryR

    What a wonderful job that sounds like at the library! I have worked in libraries for almost 20 years and have never had much luck finding reading time. Tons of books to add to my “to read” list, but not time to get to any of them. I’m jealous! Also, I love the photo you put on this post.

    • jackiemania

      I think I was lucky because I worked at night. Some nights were very busy, but we did luck out regularly around 10pm and have 10 to midnight to ourselves. All the shelving was done, hardly any students milling about, and ahhhhh!

      and thank you!

  6. Pingback: The Farm | Verum Factum

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