The importance of reading the classics and what I’m currently reading

December 14, 2016 by

Old books on a shelfIn the quest to become a better, more rounded writer, I decided to do what many writers before me have recommended. I decided to start reading through a lot of the old classics that usually get assigned for reading all through high school and college.

By and large, most of these books seem to be a slow read due to either the age of the book (books from previous centuries are more difficult to interpret than current stuff) or are of a literary bend rather than what would be considered popular, mass media type stuff.

In other words, you read it because you like word themselves rather than exciting stories. Or it's stuff that was exciting when it was first written, but now seems very dated.

To pursue my quest, I signed up for two different programs from the Easton press: The Greatest Books Ever Written and The Greatest Books of the Twentieth Century.

I actually signed up for them shortly after the company I worked for agreed to our union's request and we came back from strike, allowing me the opportunity and financial ability to afford the investment costs associated with purchasing fine leather-bound  additions of the classics.

Sure, I could have just bought the paperback editions, but in this current trend of buying throw-away items, I wanted to harken back to a time when people bought books that lasted a lifetime, ones that could be passed down to their kids and to their own kids.

So with that goal in mind, I've been slowly working my way through the books as they arrive. I get two new volumes a month, but do to what I mentioned previously, I've set myself a goal of trying to read at least one of them a month, but if I happen to make it through two, then so much the better. So far, I've been able to make it through the following books, with the latest one being finished earlier tonight:

  • Neuromancer - William Gibson (I actually got this one outside of those collections because I like William Gibson and the cyberpunk genre)
  • The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
  • Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stebenson
  • The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemmingway
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
  • To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  • All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque

If you'd like to follow along with what I'm currently reading in the classics, I plan on posting an update when I finish my current book and start on the next. I got a bit behind this past month due to my participating in NaNoWriMo (I did in fact finish it successfully, reaching nearly 51K worth of words by November 30th. I hope to have the first draft done by the end of next week if I can stay focused that long.)

The next book I plan on reading is: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I've been looking forward to reading this book for awhile since it seems to have had a strong impact on culture when it was first published since it focused on the importance of the individual instead of society as a whole, or at least that's the impression I've gotten from the little bit of reading I've done when I tried to find out what the book was about. So if anyone wants to read along, I'll be starting it tomorrow. If enough of you get interested and want to read along, I'd love to have a discussion about it when we all get to the end. Just let me know.

P.S. I'm going to be reading these books alongside other books that I'm reading as well, including books on the writing craft and genre fiction. If you'd like me to let you know what I'm reading along those lines as well, let me know and I'll put up a list for that as well.

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