Tag Archives: classics

Important Classics: A Teacher’s Viewpoint

So, I emailed one of my friends a few weeks ago who is currently studying to be a teacher. I asked him what classics were important to him, and what reasons. Here’s what classics are important and why, coming from the standpoint of a teacher.

I think the classics are very important! I also believe it’s important to bring in literature from other cultures as well as modern literature to be a true well-rounded person/reader.

As far as the classics are concerned specifically, Shakespeare is definitely my favorite!

Shakespeare wrote about psychological concepts with his characters before Freud even developed the concept. He takes a deep psychological look at his characters, writes poetically, and maintains a magnificent story line. It doesn’t get any better than that!

I just finished a course on John Steinbeck. His classics such as “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men” give readers and in depth look on what migration was really like for segregated workers during this time. It helped me personally understand communism, class separation, and some of the developments that we currently have economically because of it. This isn’t something that can simply be described. Steinbeck gives us an experience through real situations.

Edgar Allan Poe, simple enjoyment! He changed the way we look at “the way things should be.” He broke the mode and gave creativity to writers. He helped writers and readers alike break from the stereotypes and dig into an imaginary world that we’ve felt but couldn’t describe. I’m wearing my “The Raven” shirt as we speak.

I’m sure I can think of some more. These are just a few of the most recent stories that I’ve reconnected with.

What other standpoints would you like to see the classics from?

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Roadtripping and Books

Thursday through yesterday was spent Road tripping with S. as we went to his grandfather’s 90th birthday party.  I ended up meeting all of his family at once (at least on his dad’s side), which quickly got a little overwhelming.

But there were also wonderful conversations about books and writing, and how it seems now we, as readers, are more interested in the “instant-gratification” of books and story, and hate to sit through those that have too much detail and setting creation.

It got me thinking about what books are still out there today, being written today, that are written like that: poetry in the prose.  As much as I want to be able to, I can’t think of any off the top of my head (though that could be lack of sleep), and that is something that saddens me.  A lot of books in times past truly were able to take you away, and we as readers could almost hear and smell the world around us after getting sucked into that world for hours at a time.

Are there any books out there that still do that to you?

In other news, Borders is closing.  As sad as that is, it also means great deals on books.  A quick trip with S over to the local one landed me three new books for under $3 each.  Now on my reading list is Demon Bound by Caitlin Kittredge–I fell in love with the first one and lept at this one when I saw it–Mercedes Lackey’s old book The Fire Rose, which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast in San Fransisco in the 1800s, and finally, upon much squeeage from Jim Butcher and his Gnome Priscilla, I also picked up Harry Connolly’s Child of Fire.

There’s also a surprise that I am currently working on for next week, but it involves me finishing another book first, and writing up a weeks worth of material.  For next week, my friends, is Dexter Week here on Inkblabber!

Now to get ready for work and then recover from this road trip.  See everyone later!


Reading the Classics

In last week’s post on HG Wells‘ classic The War of the World, two commenters really made me stop and think.  First was Mymatejoechip, who cautioned against feeling as though I had to read all of the classics.  Then there was Joachim Boaz, who suggested that I try reading Wells other “classic” book, The Invisible Man.

Within these two comments, there are two different thoughts on the classics, I feel, and whether an author—or a reader—should feel pressed that he/she should read them.

There are some of the classics that I feel should be read by those wishing to pursue writing as a career, as these were the books that did it first.  So, in no particular order, I give you Megan Hammer’s List of Classic Books Authors Should Read (or at least try):

Dracula, by Stoker, is first on this list.  It really created the modern horror genre as we think of it today, not to mention that it began the vampire craze that has carried over to this day.  It showcases three different writing styles—journalistic, narrative first person and narrative third on occasion—and truly reveals how it’s possible to have one story told from three or four different perspectives.  The fact that Dracula is so rarely seen in the latter half makes him even more frightening, and truly puts forth the idea that horror is caused by the unknown, and that we, as readers, don’t need to know everything.

I also believe Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein should be on this list.  While not as horrific in the traditional sense as Dracula, it is excellent for seeing the nuances of human behavior through the eyes of what society deems a monster.  And how, by naming something, we can often bring about its existence, simply because we see it is there.  Frankenstein was also one of the first books in the “modern” world written by a woman, which really helped to, I think, pave the way for the rest of us woman writers out there.

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, in fact, anything by Jules Verne, is well worth a read, I think.  Each of his books are well written, and explore ideas that were so far-fetched in their days but are brought to a level that makes sense. Travel around the world in eighty days?  Impossible in the 1800s to even imagine.  Now we can do it in 80 hours. Journey is brilliant for the fact that most of it is fantastical, a rather revolutionary idea at the time of writing, when most books weren’t involving strange creatures and places.

Lord of the Rings might be cliché, but it really did cement the place of Fantasy in the hearts of many, and was one of the first main-stream fantasies to be out there.  Yes, it’s long and drawn out, but think of the fact that Tolkien was writing it while in the trenches in order to keep everyone amused and away from the horrors of war.  They are well written, and every last loose end is accounted for.  In terms of setting creation, there is no better book to come to than Lord of the Rings to watch a master at work.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is one I suggest reading if you have time and are willing to read it several times in order to make sense of it.  The name has become a catchprase in our modern culture, which really shows its lasting power.  I did a 20 page research paper on it back in High School, and even after spending that much time on it, there were things I was still discovering about and laughing at.  This book takes the cake for a study in narrative and character creation.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a good series, and I think mystery writers especially should read at least one of them in their lifetime.  It’s an exercise in clue-gathering, and wondering why you didn’t see that the Maid was actually the victim the entire time you were reading!  Most of the books are rather short, and easy to get through in one afternoon or so.

So there is my list of classics I think people should read.  What ones are on your list?  Are they classics, modern contempories, or that one book you found just last week on the bargain shelf at the bookstore that you fell in love with?