17th November, 2021

Bookish Stuff: Hectic times and the classics

It's mid-November and I don't know about you, but I've already felt the holiday rush in the past few weeks. It's only 5.5 weeks till Christmas and suddenly there are so many things to think about that it can drive you mad. I always try to stay calm and take in the Christmas spirit at this time of year but some years this seems to work better than others. What I do like to do in these times, is read either old favourites or explore a classic that I haven't read yet. There is something about the old-timey language that I find strangely soothing and the often slow-paced narratives make you lean back and relax. 

Because I teach literature at university, some people tend to assume that I've read everything. Obviously I haven't! For one, because that is simply not possible to achieve in a lifetime and also because some texts simply aren't up my alley. There, I said it: even lecturers or teachers "hate" certain texts or writers.  :-) 

There are some classic writers with whom I have a love/hate relationship. Take the Brontë sisters, for example. I love Charlotte and Anne, but am definitely not a huge fan of Emily. Or Dickens. I love some of his books but utterly detest others. And that's alright! It's a matter of personal taste and you can still appreciate a text's significance, even if you don't love it.  It's also something I tell my students: "Just because it's canon, it doesn't mean you have to adore it. Give it a go - yes. If you like it, good. If you don't, then you can at least argue why you didn't enjoy it because you know what you're talking about."

Another writer I have a weird relationship with is Jane Austen. It might have to do with her being a favourite topic with a lot of my students (please don't make me read another term paper on marriage in Pride and Prejudice!). I don't really know, but it's a little like I said above: I really like some of her novels (Northhanger Abbey, for example, is amazing) while not being overly keen on others. There are also one or two I haven't even read yet, so this is my plan for the next few weeks until Christmas. I am finally going to read Persuasion which, I have heard recently, is by many considered to be her best book. We'll see how it goes. I will keep you posted. :-) 

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