Celebrate the Classics: Why You Can and Should Read the Great Books, by Calee M. Lee. Free on Kindle.
I realize this isn’t on my list of books in the queue. What can I say? Old habits die hard. In any event, it isn’t really a book. It’s more accurately categorized as an essay, as I was able to read the whole thing in about 45 minutes last night. The lion’s share of its remaining pages are composed of book lists and potential book club discussion pages, most of which I skipped. The author begins with a funny quote attributed to Mark Twain:
“Classic” is a book which people praise but don’t read.
With that in mind, Calee Lee sets out to make the case that the praise of certain books, which has lasted for generations, is exactly the reason why we need to consider picking one up. The essay lists several reasons why we should read (or in many cases re-read) classic books. Among them:
Classics are those books which constitute a treasured experience for those who have read and loved them; but they remain just as rich an experience for those who reserve the chance to read them for when they are in the best condition to enjoy them.
Anyone who has re-read a classic and loved it despite having found it a drudgery and a torture in high school can attest to the validiy of this.
Classic books give the sense of re-reading something we have read before even if we are reading it for the first time.
This was my experience when I recently read the excellent J.M. Barrie classic, Peter Pan. This happens of course because one of the marks of a classic is that it’s imprinted indelibly in the narrative of a people and culture, being remade and referenced so often that we already know the story. Or at least, we think we do.
Classic books never exahust all that they has to say to their readers.
The Bible, of course, is the ultimate illustration of this truism. It is also true of classic novels as well, albeit to a lesser degree. The nuances, quirks, and familiar foibles of human nature spring anew from the pages of Persuasion or Sense and Sensibility every time I read them.
Those are just a few of the points made in the e-book, Celebrate the Classics. I also think it’s wonderful that the author’s independent publishing company has an entire promotional push to encourage and invite readers to recapture, or in some cases discover, the beauty of classic literature.
I appreciate the fact that she kept it succinct and to the point rather than filling hundreded of pages with exemporaneous words when a short exposition would do.