Get those old classics off the shelf

“Classic.” A book which people praise and don’t read.

Mark Twain

You can call me a relic, but I like classic literature. I enjoy a lot of contemporary authors, too, but for me there’s nothing like the books that have been around for hundreds of years. Summer vacation is my prime reading time, and I always leave room for some golden oldies on my holiday reading list.

A lazy day at the cottage or a leisurely afternoon in the backyard is a great time to savor some of the classics. You know the ones I mean – the titles that are touchstones for what is often considered great literature, the books you skimmed through for a school assignment, the ones you’re going to read someday when you get a chance. Reading the classics offers a great deal of insight into what’s being written today, and they are really enjoyable once you give them a chance.

Featured imageLeo Tolstoy is one of the biggies when it comes to important novels. War and Peace, Tolstoy’s painstaking recounting of the war Napoleon waged with Russia,  is a slow read, but most definitely worthwhile, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Nelson Mandela considered War and Peace his favourite book of all time. A side benefit is that there’s nothing like a vivid description of a Russian winter to make you appreciate summer, mosquitoes and all.

Featured imageThe plots of Jane Austen’s novels have been told and re-told in many ways and many formats, but the experience of reading the originals is what enables you to really recognize the value of her writing. My personal favourite of her books is Pride and Prejudice, but I’d recommend any or all of them. Spoiler alert – Mr. Darcy doesn’t take a dip in the pond in the book as Colin Firth did so memorably in the movie. If you’re looking for a project, try finding all of the versions of Austen’s works that have been made into movies.

Featured imageF.Scott Fitzgerald’s novels are the perfect complement to a sunny day on the beach. His descriptions of the seaside in Tender is the Night, or the pool parties in The Great Gatsby provide a glimpse into a time and place not so different from today, only with far better fashions and no worries about sunscreen. Fitzgerald is a relatively modern author compared to Jane Austen or Leo Tolstoy, but his works still resonate in much the same way.

These books may be heavy on plots, themes and characters, but thanks to modern technology, they don’t need to add weight to your backpack or beach bag. Many of these works are available for free downloads through sites like  and the public domain titles on Overdrive. Or you can go with audio books, for road trips, long walks or while you’re gardening.

So whether you’re packing up for a week at the lake, a day at the beach or an afternoon in your backyard, why not dust off those old classics and bring them out into the sunlight? They may be old-fashioned, but they’re definitely not over the hill.


One response to “Get those old classics off the shelf

  1. Pingback: Old Book, New Trick | Readers' Salon

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