05 March 2011

Visiting the Classics

I read a lot. Any chance I get, really. Of course, during the semester, my free time to read diminishes significantly in favor of academia related reading. A lot of that reading is good, of course-Macbeth, Henry V, The Mousetrap, etc.-but there's nothing like reading a good piece of literature and knowing I won't have to analyze and dissect it afterward. This semester, I'm visiting some classics.

The first one I picked up was originally read for school. I simply couldn't keep up with the rest of the class when we read Gone With the Wind. I hadn't really been exposed to it before, so I knew nothing about the story. As a result of the forced march reading style the class demanded-I remember having to read four chapters in one night to catch up-I didn't take to the book or it's characters on my first read-through. Some parts of it were over my head. I found Scarlett O'Hara to be stereotyped heavily, a flat character, always the spoiled child pouting to get her way. Why was she the heroine of this story? Why had the story lasted so long?

A year passed before I could pick the book up again. Visiting it on my own terms, within my own schedule, made all the difference. With the ability to go back and re-read passages as often as I wanted, to linger over some, I finally fell in love with the book. I truly saw, for the first time, every sign of Rhett's care for Scarlett. I saw every small change in the Southern belle as she was forced to face the real world. I watched the characters grow and evolve. It has since become a favorite, though one I only pick up when I have the time to dedicate to reading it.

Another that was more of an instant favorite was Watership Down. Richard Adams was brilliant in his writing, taking simple creatures-rabbits-and inventing them an entire culture, with its own myths and legends. I've made the journey with Hazel, Bigwig, Fiver, and all the rest countless times and have loved it more each time. Anyone who hasn't read this book needs to because it is spectacular.

My most recent acquisition in the area of classic literature has much the same story, for me, as Gone With the Wind did. In all honesty, the whole reason I picked up The Grapes of Wrath was because the book I was reading I had left in the car. I looked to my bookshelf and considered before spotting The Grapes of Wrath and thinking to myself I'd never read it before. I grabbed it, taking a chance. So far, I'm only on chapter six and I've completely fallen in love. The simple wording Steinbeck uses makes the images he paints all the more vivid. He doesn't waste words; I appreciate that immensely.

Still, wordy or not, I love most of the literature I've picked up. I wonder what I'll be reading next.
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