1 a : serving as a standard of excellence : of recognized value
I love books. I love to read. I love Goodreads - both because it helps me keep track of what I've read and because it has encouraged me to read more critically as I think ahead to reviewing a book. But I also love reading what I want to read. I clearly remember the moment I realized I could quit a book if I wasn't enjoying it.
I was lying in bed, slogging through a book when I thought to myself, "You know, no one is going to test you on this book. You're not going to have to write a paper on it." At that point, I created a personal rule: if a book doesn't have my interest by page 50, I stop reading it. I created the 50 page rule because I think some books don't jump up and grab me. I need to get to know the characters, see where the plot might take me, get a feel for the writing and the setting. But honestly? That has to happen in 50 pages or I'm not wasting my time. (This started as the 100 page rule, but 100 pages of Little Women was enough to change that.) Life is too short to read boring books.
I like the freedom to choose what I'm going to read. There's nothing better than the right book at the right time - and nothing worse than the right book at the wrong time. That (along with my busy schedule) is why I limit my book club participation - I don't want to read what someone else says to read. But without providing myself some structure, I can get into a reading rut. So I decided this year I should be a bit more targeted in some of my reading.
My first thought was that I should read one classic per month. Then I decided that was too ambitious. I settled on one per quarter instead. Then March rolled around and I realized I hadn't even started a classic, much less finished one. So I grabbed Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham and started it. I'd found it back in January at the used book store and thought it sounded interesting. And who doesn't want to read a book by an author with a name as cool as Somerset Maugham? That alone was enough to make me attempt it.
If a classic serves as a standard of excellence, I can see why this book is a classic. The writing? Excellent. The themes? Broad, lasting, well-addressed. The time it took to read the book? Substantial - and not just because the book was 680 pages long. The book was so packed that I could only read bits at a time before taking a mental breather. Was the book worth my time? Yes, but I'd love for my next classic to be a bit easier to read.
That's where you come in. What's your favorite classic and why? It is easy to read? A book you still think about? Does it have characters that you love?
Give me all your thoughts.
And should you be looking for your next great book, my favorite book of all time is The Book Thief. I can't say enough good things about it. If you haven't read it, read it. But first leave me a comment telling me your favorite classic!