Photo CC- by Brenda Clarke
“We use the word “classics” for those books that are treasured by those who have read and loved them; but they are treasured no less by those who have the luck to read them for the first time in the best conditions to enjoy them.”
-Italo Calvino, Why Read the Classics?
I decided to plan my independent reading project around classic literature. I looked at many different types of reading plans, but decided to come back to the classics. Here’s why…
Reason #1: I just like classic literature.
No matter how many times I reread a book, I get more out of it.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer makes me laugh – out loud – each time I read it.
I have read Pride and Prejudice a dozen times and still love it. Jane Austin uses words like vexation, felicity, ardently, and nonsensical. Nobody speaks like that anymore, maybe they never did, but I love it anyway.
Dracula gives me tingles down my spine. (This is the only vampire book I have ever read. As a former Utah housewife, it gives me great pride to admit that I stood firm in the face of Stefanie Meyer mania.)
Each time I read classical literature, be it the first time or the fifteenth, I always learn something new about the world or myself.
Reason #2: Reading classic literature makes you smarter.
Photo CC- by Truthout.org
It has been studied at Liverpool University, and research has shown that reading the classics causes the brain to function differently than when reading modern literature. The result is learning takes place each time one reads classical literature. In the classics, one is being introduced to new vocabulary, causing the reader to learn new words and make associations between familiar and unfamiliar words. Also, the sentence structure used in older literature is different and it takes more work to decode the meaning. Reading classic literature also leads to greater self-reflection.
For the study, brain scans were taken while people read classical literature and modern translations of the same content. More electrical activity took place in the brain when the classical literature was presented, particularly in regions of the brain associated with memory. Also, the electrical activity lasted longer when reading classical literature as opposed to modern literature. In regard to vocabulary and brain activity, when reading an unfamiliar word in classical and modern literature, the left part of the brain associated with language lit up, but in the classical literature, in addition to language, the right side’s emotion and autobiographical memory portions lit up as well. All the information showed that if you read classical literature, you use more of your brain to do so.
For a brainer version about this, read the article, “Shakespeare and Wordsworth boost the brain, new research reveals” from The Telegraph.
Classic reading so far
Photo C- by Beth Dunn
I love Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. This is a story about redemption and second chances. At first it is a little depressing, but the trials the characters go through are made beautiful in the end. Everyone is happy, and that’s how I like endings.
Since I enjoyed Jane Eyre, I chose to read Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, the sister of Charlotte Brontë. I thought it would be more of the same. I was wrong as the depressing part never ended, but the book did. This is a story about love, jealousy, hatred, and revenge. Maybe I just did not have the right attitude while reading it. Maybe I did not understand the story.
If anyone has read Wuthering Heights and liked it, please tell me why and change my mind.
Coming up next week
I have never read To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Most people read this in high school, and it tops most lists of best classic books. I will share my thoughts about this book next Sunday. I know, you’re all on pins and needles as you have to wait a whole week to read my thoughts about this book! I hope I like this one.
Photo CC- by Bear