On one of the YOBC posts (somewhere, I’ll find it) nrlymrtl asks why do you read these classics? For the history lesson? For the wonderful writing? Or what?
An aspect of Darkcargo is my Ye Olde Book Club list. This is a monthly selection of classic titles that I have been meaning to get to. Sometimes we discuss those on this blog, but there are shorthand notes and some discussions going on over here: YOBC. To answer nrlymrtl’s question, one the reasons why I have been trying to read more of the classics is to be able to participate in the human conversation about literature.
Another reference? The ship in Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey is named Rocinante, Don Quixote’s horse. Having read some of Don Quixote, the ship in Leviathan Wakes takes on a new meaning.
Another? The introduction to my copy of Beloved by Toni Morrison discusses Whiteness, and the White Whale chapter in Moby Dick. Hum. Am able to bring another perspective to that section of the book and its ramifications in literature.
Another? Patrick Rothfuss at his Guest of Honor speech mentioned that he reads Don Quixote off and on (he’ll put it down for a while, read some more later, put it down again) and there’s me in the back NOT jumping up and down like a dipshit “ME TOO! KEEP GOING, IT’S REALLY FUNNY. SKIP THE BORING BITS! THERE’S A COOL LECTURE ON iTUNES!”
Another? That same weekend, in a different panel on character building, Rothfuss showed how Cyrano de Bergerac is a fantastically built character who shows us many sides of his personality in the first few bits of the play. Yay! I’ve read this, I was able to follow along!
So, I was really excited about LittleRedReviewer’s Vintage Sci-Fi Month. Here’s an opportunity to get through some of the building blocks of Sci-Fi and to be able to be conversant in the discussion of, for example, the Cthulhu mythos. I really struggled with Brave New World (it wasn’t difficult, I just didn’t like it), but I’ve read it and now am able to discuss it. nrlymrtl has done an excellent Nerdy job of working through a lot of these older works, such as the Conans, E. E. Doc Smith, and Lovecraft. Kudos.
I think everyone involved with the YOBC selection of Dracula loved that book, and where that story was just a nebulous Thing From the Past, it is now a concrete story with characters and plot.
So, the point of all this rambling is this: DO pepper your reading selections with some classics, OK? It will enrich your reading of your favorite genre, whether that’s mystery, SF/F or romance.