Monday, January 17, 2011


Last Sunday, my family and I visited my grandparents. I tried to watch the football game that was on, but I didn't know the teams playing, so there was little to no motivation. I spy the newspaper sitting on the hearth, and pick it up. Its been weeks since I've read a paper, and I've been craving it for some time.

I eventually came to section 4; the arts and entertainment. The first article's title surprises me: "Oprah goes classic: A good idea?" Referring to Oprah's selections for her book club. Read the article here. The author of the piece, Julia Keller, makes the argument that although classics are good books, Oprah should have given a newer book a chance. She should have used her power to bring a new (or newer) book into the lime light.

My first read through the article left me aghast. It seems to me that Keller was advocating leaving the classics in the dust, and picking up the freshly bound freshly written novels. I was thoroughly upset. But, upon my second read just before scrambling this post together, I noticed Keller actually seemed to be advocating the very point I was going to make in this post: balance.

Just because Oprah says to read classics doesn't mean you ought to limit yourself to just those.
Just because So-n-so doesn't like classics doesn't mean you ought to ban them from your reading list.
Even if you yourself hate newer books, or loath seemingly ancient classics, don't bind yourself to the other. Read some of each, and don't give up on one or the other.

 Balance makes everything work, and I think we ought to apply it to reading literature. Too much of a good thing is bad, and you don't want to miss out on something exceptional just because you do not like musty classics or stiff-paged newbies. Balance.

I'll end with a quote from Keller. At the very end of her article she says:
 "Read new fiction. Pick a book you've never heard of, a book about which the jury is still thrillingly out. Boldly go where few readers have gone before. If it ends up being a dud-and the odds, sadly, suggest that it will be- fear not. 'Great expectations' will still be there."


Noël De Vries said...

I agree with Lewis on this point: "It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between."

Sarah M. said...

Honestly? I think it's ridiculous the amount of attention/following Oprah gets. She says something is good and floods of people go after that thing. I'm glad she chose a classic. She's chosen some other good books in the past... and IMHO several lousy books too. Anyway, moving on.

Not that I'm opposed to new books. I read several. But they are still to be tested and I do not think readers should pass up those deemed classics. I think balance is exactly what readers need. Modern readers are more likely to pass up the good reads for the new reads and at least they might give Dickens a try thanks to the Oprah-following.

Btw, Noel, that quote is a favorite of one of the women in my book club. :)

Nicole said...

Noel, that is a good quote. It makes sense, too. I love C.S...

and yes, it is crazy how many followers she has, and what people will do just because she advocates it. And yes, I'm glad people are going to read a little Dickens now. And I hope they like it, too. :)