A Short History in Books

Reading has always been a hobby of mine and since a very young age I have loved to read. Throughout my life I have grown and changed, as we all do, and besides me my books have grown thicker, the text shrunk smaller and the content evolved.

Enid Blyton was my most memorable childhood literary love affair. I must have been around eight years old when I fell in love with her books and began dreaming of going to boarding school where I would sneakily have midnight feasts without matron finding out, play tricks on the French teacher and have a generally jolly good time. The adventures I read about were old-fashioned and my mother had enjoyed them in her own childhood, in a completely different language, but that didn’t stop me from being enthralled by them.

Even now I still find them timeless and am unable to emotionally or physically part with the books as battered and worn out as they are. What child wouldn’t want to travel to an island in a small rowing boat, with a group of merry friends, a dog and a picnic to solve a great mystery and triumph over the grown ups? I was terribly disappointed when my younger sisters did not share my love, one reading only a single series (Malory Towers) before dismissing the author and another ignoring the books entirely. Whether they are still in fashion or not, my children will read Enid Blyton, even if I have to tie them down. That’s how passionate I am.

Once I had completed them all and reached pre-adolescence I regretfully had to leave Blyton behind and enter the then popular phase of broken families, divorced parents, abandoned kids…. Jacqueline Wilson. Her books were much more gloomy and depressing than the magical adventures of Enid Blyton’s fantasy characters but yet they were an addictive and necessary introduction to the real world, where not everything is happy families. Instead of boarding school, I wanted to live in a care home and my parents’ marriage was too harmonious.

Then, along with the dreaded teenage years, in which I am still currently stuck in, comes the dreadful vampire phase. Dark and predictable with typically black covers, the misunderstood human girl always falls in love with the unnaturally handsome vampire. Once you read one, you’ve read them all but that doesn’t stop you from doing just that. It must be a social trend rather than an actual interest in the mythical beings because no one ever reads Dracula. Maybe they would if it took place in a highschool and was a major motion picture?

In between phases there are also periods of inactivity as I abandon my books and momentarily lose interest, starving myself until I can bear it no longer ripping open a new chapter in my literary life as I devour all words in sight.

As of a few days ago, I have entered a new, more mature, slightly more sophisticated and definitely more intellectual era; the classics. I have realized that I have not read nearly enough classics as I should and have decided to rectify that immediately, starting with Pride and Prejudice, a book which I have previously attempted and discarded and which not even the movie could animate me. However, upon reading it a second time, with an open mindset, I find myself to be captivated by the romance and chivalry ,although I am a bit critical of the writing style. Jane Austen seems incapable of allowing her character’s actions or dialogue to speak for themselves and feels the need to describe their personalities in order of appearance be it good humour or an unpleasant disposition. She also seems to forget that as the Bennet family consists of five daughters, addressing them as a single Miss Bennet can create confusion for the reader.

Not even a quarter way through and I have unleashed my literary genius, commenting and criticizing as if I knew better than one of the best writers in British history. In my opinion, reading classics increases your intellect or in the very least increases your appearance of intellect. So in the interest of seeming more intellectual, I have resolved to read more classics, despite most people having a negative connotation with the very word, immediately translating classic to boring before getting past the acknowledgements page.

Dickens, Bronte… any suggestions?

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11 thoughts on “A Short History in Books

  1. Of course, anything by Jane Austen is a pleasure. May I also suggest Wuthering Heights (Bronte), many many things by Oscar Wilde but start with The Picture of Dorian, Dracula (Stoker), Frankenstein (Shelley), The Vampire (John Polidori), These are all well known ‘biggies’ that are good starts for anyone wanting to become fluent in classic British literature.

  2. For Dickens, start with “A Christmas Carol”, but it has to be December to feel right. And Every sentence of Dickens is so poetic I am tempted to read it aloud. But most of his books are far too long.
    Many classics are awful. (although i have only read the backs of too many…)

    My favourite book was Enid Blyton’s “the Secret Island” that I think you allude to. I made my son read that 🙂 I posted on it back in August.

    Hope you enjoy forming your own canon of literature.

  3. Yay! I am glad you started reading the classics. Ever since I started reading, I find that when I don’t know what to read, it’s never a bad idea to go with the classics. It has been enjoyed by many people for generations and generations so it’s not like you are searching for a good book in a diluted pool.

    I, too, have not read many classics yet but I am getting there. One classic at a time ^_^

  4. Persuasion Jane Austen (Btw, I don’t agree with your observation on Austen’s writing style. I love how she writes, dialogue, vialoguue and all. =)

    David Copperfield (This one has a spine thickness to put off more voracious classic readers but it’s goody-good-good.)

    The Lord of the Rings. The movies will pale in comparison, once you get into it. I love the scene building in some places in here, especially the Moria episode. This last sentence may be gibberish if you’re not into LOTR, in which case…well, you’ve probably read it already so you can’t really do much about it anyway.

  5. Jane Eyre was one of the first classics I found that I loved in high school. I’d like to give it a re-read as an adult. I also love The Awakening by Kate Chopin. And Shakespeare! Everyone needs a little Shakespeare in their intellectual arsenal.

  6. Hey, thanks for the like!
    I’ve just taken a spin through your blog and some of the posts remind me an awful lot of the stuff I used to think and write a few years ago 🙂

    Hmm, just wait until you leave the ‘classic’ phase and enter the ‘post-industrial classic’. I recommend Brighton Rock, A Clockwork Orange, 1984 and The Sailor who Fell From Grace With the Sea, when you’re ready. You might notice a reoccurring theme within all of them if you don’t get put off reading first!
    Then, as a treat go for Jane Eyre and Tess of the D’Urbivilles. Good reading!

  7. Aha, I laughed out loud reading this, I’ve pretty much gone through the exact same phases as you and I’m reading Pride and Prejudice as we speak and will be reviewing it on my blog. 🙂 I also read pretty much every Jacqueline Wilson book out there when I was younger and then continued on the the dark a broody vampire young adult section!
    I havn’t read many classics which is something, like you, I’m trying to change, but out of the ones I’ve read so far, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and The Lord of the Rings are my favorites by far!
    🙂

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