Written by Hannah Edstrom
I wrote this short post long before the shelter in place. But now is as good a time as ever to encourage each other to read. This quarantine has freed up so much time – I absolutely love not having a commute. I habitually turn to nonfiction; books about science, history, culture, religion, and the occasional Malcolm Gladwell have always been on my list. But lately, I have been reading more fiction, and am rediscovering just how entertaining it can be.
Last year I read How to Read a Book, and I think that very much encouraged me to return to some classics. As homeschoolers, we always chose great literature as an educational staple, and we often combined English and history in a giant stack of books to read.
But you can’t read everyone and everything in high school. So last year I picked up Paradise Lost, and was captured by not just the storyline, but the sheer depth and richness of the writing style. I entered the world of Arthuriana and found an enchanting mythos there as well. And the plot of Lord of the Rings? So much is there, not the least of which Tolkien’s own experience in WWI – in the battles he fought, but also in the wounds, in the memories, he brought home with him.
So fiction is back on my reading list.
Right now, that means Dracula by Bram Stoker. Currently, I am all about dramatic carriage rides and howling wolves and mysterious counts. The next Chrétien de Troyes I have planned is Yvain. Does anything on Netflix sound more entertaining than a Medieval poem about the adventures of a Knight of the Round Table and his pet lion? Daphne du Maurier also made the list, and the next thing on par with Paradise Lost is Dante’s Divine Comedy.
There is such a difference in reading for fun verses in school. I think in school, I definitely gained a respect for old books, and I don’t think I’d be turning to them now if I hadn’t gotten that (even How to Read a Book is from my high school reading list; I never quite got around to then). But there is a whole new level of enjoyment that comes afterwards, and a more complete education is just part of it. Great literature captures life throughout time and space, and the more life you experience, the more you will notice in the novel, compare to your own life, and empathize (or perhaps commiserate) with the characters.
Happy reading, whether that’s ancient fiction, current trends in science, or anything in between!
- Do you gravitate towards fiction or nonfiction?
- When’s the last time you picked up a book that was a bit atypical for you?
- Share your current booklist in the comments below!