Monday, December 6, 2010

Will The Classics Crumble into Dust

I've seen lists online of the classics that students "should" read. Get that word "should." But are the kids actually required to read the books on the list?

I'm sure school curriculum's require certain books to be read. My question is, why don't the newly graduated students know more about the classics? I've talked to bright students who have absorbed the subjects of their field in college, for instance, but had never heard of "Catcher in the Rye." I know I live in dinosaur-land but I thought kids still read that book. Guess I'm wrong.

My Granddaughter, a very bright girl, recently graduated in sports medicine. She met a young man who was an exception to present day rule. He was more like old school. He knew world history and had read the classics. Then she was suddenly asking me about the classics. Ah Ha.... a catalyst.

But it's true. The classics I cherished, like "Great Expectations," "Ulysses," and "Les Miserables" are crumbling on the shelves. "Wuthering Heights;" I still drool at just the thought of Heathcliff. It's a pity but they belong to a slower time of life. This electronic era is heralding it's own classics. I hope.

I'm pretty far removed from kids today. Tell me, what is your opinion of their reading choices.


  1. I am an avid reader and constantly pass on good reads to my kids. Even my DIL with a university degree in English hardly ever cracks open a book these days. Of course with 2 preschoolers in the house, she's busy enough. Just last week, I read "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" by David Wromblewski. It was such an amazing read that for the very first time, I wrote a letter to the authour to talk about it. I can't even IMAGINE not reading good books, classics and new ones too. I think I've read Pearl S. Bucks "The Good Earth" about ten times. There's a classic for you.

  2. Well there is the Harry Potter phenomenom and having read the series - I say - this is gonna be a classic!!!! Hopefully!!

    It's weird being part of the writerly blog community - they tend to be American YA authors/writers and the books they recommmend/read/review are very NOW. Apart from Harry Potter.

    I hope such wonderful books as Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird and the even earlier classics (Brontes, Thomas Hardy etc) continue to live on though!!!
    p.s. I'm still reeling as to how my 20 something year old work colleague has never seen The Sound of Music!!!!

    Take care

  3. My daughter just downloaded like a zillion of the classics FOR FREE onto her Kindle. So I predict they're going to get read more than ever. Electronically.

  4. Kindle with all the free classics will introduce the youngsters to some fine work.
    Sadly, I have never read Catcher in the Rye. Need to put that on my TBR list.

  5. To me, unfortunately, it is far more difficult to find quality literature today - among the crap.

  6. Rosemary,
    A friend said, when she read Buck's The Good Earth when she was in high school, she thought it was a boring book about a Chinese farmer. When she re-read it in her 30's she thought it was a timeless exciting story about life. So that's probably the answer to why young people don't read the classics. I appreciate your thoughtful comment.

    Old Kittie,
    I re-read the old classics and I can't seem to do that with any of the modern writings. I don't know how many times I've read David Copperfield during my lifetime. Right.... I'd thought everyone had seen "The Sound of Music" el mucho times.

    Really? How or where did she do that? I live in a mushroom cave when it comes to electronics, you know.

    Karen was just talking about free kindle classics. I didn't know about it.
    I just recently re-read Catcher in Rye for the who-can-count-times. That used to be required reading for middle school kids.

    I agree. I had never been a quitter on a book but lately I have a lot of books that I can't finish. Complete waste of time.

  7. Who is this young man you speak of?