So, there’s been a bit of debate among readers. Is it better to read classic or contemporary fiction? The potential answers to this question are a lot more inflammatory than one may think.
People can be very pretentious about their classic literature. They sometimes tend to look down on readers who don’t normally reach for A Tale of Two Cities or The Grapes of Wrath first. These classical aficionados tend to think that their taste in books makes them somehow “better” than other readers.
However, some people may not ever pick up a classic. They’ll go for contemporary fiction. They might think the classics are boring and stuffy or too difficult to read. Or, they may be turned off from reading classics by the attitudes of the very people who try their best to promote them.
I think both camps have a point. I think it’s important to read classics because it gives a sense of where literature has come from, in addition to speaking a lot about the history and culture in which the book was written. I also think it’s good to challenge oneself with a tough read every now and then. However, I also think it’s important to keep current with contemporary fiction. As a writer, it’s good to see what kind of things are getting published and what modern readers respond positively to. Plus, there are plenty of modern books which, in a hundred years or so, are going to be the new classics taught in school. I think it’s exciting to experience that firsthand.
So Classic Readers, don’t put people down just because they don’t want to read a book heavier than a brick. And Contemporary Readers, don’t be afraid to try a classic novel. You might be surprised at what you find.