Quote: Classic Books
I love classics. Classic music, classic paintings, and of course, classic books. That said, I’ve not read nearly as many of the classic books as I would like. Of those I have gotten the chance to read, Brothers Karamazov, The Count of Monte Cristo, Little Women, A Tale of Two Cities, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Pilgrim’s Progress are some of my favorites. I just seem to have a weakness for things written over 50 years ago.
I sometimes wonder if my love of classic books works against me as a writer. Because when I read them, I think, “Yes, this is the way I want to write!” But I’m not sure that is the style readers today want to read. They may forgive it in older authors (if they read them at all), but nowadays, they expect short, snappy sentences, brisk dialogue, and a plot that moves, moves, moves, baby. The older books are generally more ponderous.
Classic books are worth the effort
And yet, for those of us who do climb these Mt. Everests of literature, though it may be difficult, though it may test the limits of our endurance, we find that the views from the summit are grander, and our muscles and lungs are stronger for having breathed that rarified air. That is why I am this quote from Italo Calvino so resonates with me.
“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”
You may not be one of those readers who loves classic books. But there is a reason they continue to be read year after year. Despite all the latest trends. Despite what flashes onto the bestseller list today and is gone tomorrow. Despite all the bashing classic books sometimes get from modern readers. And it precisely because the timeless truths of courage, justice, sacrifice, friendship, humility, and kindness, never grow old. They never become out of date. They are, in a word, eternal. And that is why classic books are just those books that never finish saying what they have to say.