How much time do you spend reading Literary classics versus Genre fiction?

Kierkegaurdian

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I read a fair amount of stuff, usually varies. I would say my reading consists of 3 parts SF / F / speculative fiction, 2 parts "classics" and 1 part non-fiction (usually science, mathematics, or philosophy). I don't read much history or popular fiction, and a lot of the "classics" tend to be 20th century ones (e.g., Catch-22). Back in the day I read a ton of older classics (Dostoevsky, Dumas, Cervantes, Austen, etc.) but I haven't reread many of those recently.
 

HoopyFrood

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As I said in the other thread, I've had to read a lot of classics, but it's not spoilt my enjoyment of them. Until I started frequenting this site, I wasn't particularly into one specific genre, and I'm still fairly omnivorous (I'm just a lot more aware of many awesome books I need to read in the SFF and horror genres first, and have a huge to-read pile of such). Up to now, my life's been pretty much education, and most of it literature based, and I have really loved reading books I may not have read otherwise -- I even had to read the first book of the bible at one point. As I also said before, Othello is my all-time favourite text, and that's due to studying it. I could analyse and pick it to pieces endlessly, and read it until it falls apart (and listen to it...and watch it...I have it on CD and DVD...)

Depending on my feelings at the time, I can alternate between any genre of book (and at the moment, I am reading a 'penguin popular classic', The Secret Agent). Yes, I probably am swayed by the accepted list of what's a classic, and maybe I won't end up enjoying them (a lot I do, though), but I'm willing to give them a go. Personally I try not to avoid entire genres in case I miss something that I would truly enjoy. There's even a chick-lit book I got free with a magazine once that I honestly read again and again 'cos I like it so much!
 

antiloquax

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Thanks to Gollum for setting this thread up! I think you put it very well when you said that life is too short to read mediocre texts. Also agree with Connovar's points.
I wouldn't read the "classics" if I didn't enjoy them. Italo Calvino has a good article "Why Read the Classics?" in which he says that basically we all have our own personal "classics" - books that have been important to us and that we may well re-read. If a book on a list like Fadiman and Major's didn't float my boat, I might well give up or at least not consider it a classic for me.
a
 

GOLLUM

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Thanks to Gollum for setting this thread up! I think you put it very well when you said that life is too short to read mediocre texts. Also agree with Connovar's points.
I wouldn't read the "classics" if I didn't enjoy them. Italo Calvino has a good article "Why Read the Classics?" in which he says that basically we all have our own personal "classics" - books that have been important to us and that we may well re-read. If a book on a list like Fadiman and Major's didn't float my boat, I might well give up or at least not consider it a classic for me.
a
Interstingly enough antiloquax, that is part of a book Calvino published entitled "Why Read the Classics?" It is excellent. Funnily enough I have everything in English that Calvino wrote, say you're not surpised..;)

Point being that Calvino is one of the great writers of the 20th Centruy who didn't receive the Nobel Prize and should have. You may well have read Calvino already but otherwise I urge you to get hold of anything of his that you can. For me he is an even greater post-war Italian novelist than Umberto Eco or Guiseppe Tomasi de Lampedusa, perhaps on a par with Cesare Pavese, probably Italy's greatest novelist of the earlier 20th Century.
 

dask

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After joining the Chrons and listening to you and J.D. and others I've been reading more classics and books about classics than previously. Many thanks. Still love sf but you gotta love that older stuff.
 

antiloquax

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@Gollum I'm not surprised to hear you like Calvino! :) I have only read "If On A Winter's Night a Traveller". I will have to read some of his others. What do you suggest?:D

In terms of the original question of this thread, I don't think there's a simple answer for me. Looking back over the last 50 or so books I've read there are no "classics" at all! I've read roughly equal numbers of literary fiction and non-fiction and about 13 SF and graphic novels. I do tend to read as the mood takes me, without a plan as such. Mind you, like HappyFrood and others, I did read a decent amount of the classics in my younger days in the education system.

:)a
 

GOLLUM

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@Gollum I'm not surprised to hear you like Calvino! :) I have only read "If On A Winter's Night a Traveller". I will have to read some of his others. What do you suggest?:D
I think anything by Calvino is worth reading but particular favourites include the aforementioned If On A Winter's Night a Traveller, Invisible Cities (arguably his greatest work), Our Ancestors trilogy and Cosmicomics (collection of short stories).

If you like Calvino you could also try to obtain the work of his mentor Tommaso Landolfi. In particular his short story collections, Words In Commotion and other Stories and his most celebrated body of work in the West, Gogol's Wife and other Stories.
 

Fried Egg

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I nearly exclusively read fiction from within the genres of SF, fantasy and horror. I personally don't feel much of a compulsion to read the so called literary "classics". That said, many of the books widely regarded as classics might well fall within (or on the fringes of) these genres so I will happilly read them.

I guess that the more I find myself struggling to find books I enjoy within these genres, the more I will stray outside of them but that seems far from the case at the moment. There's so much out there within these genres (including some of the great classics) that I have in my targets to read at some point and I only have so much time.

I could start forcing myself to read more of the classics in order to "educate" myself but I try to treat each month as if it might be my last and that I should not waste time reading books that are not likely to be what I will enjoy.
 

Nesacat

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Like Hoopy I've had to read a lot of classics and again like Hoopy, it's not stopped me from enjoying them and continuing to read them now that I don't have to read them. But I now read one only if I really want to not because it's a classic and I ought to.

It's the same with genre fiction. I tend not to really notice what specific category a book falls into and it's always quite amusing to see what books different stores put on their Literature shelves. I certainly don't specifically set out to read or amass a particular category of books.
 

LittleMissy

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I haven't read much in the way of 'Literary Classics' in the past (apart from Lewis Carroll, Shakespeare and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women). However, over the last six months or so I did decide that perhaps I should read more! I've downloaded quite of few of those mentioned above to read on my laptop whenever I run out of real paper books (it doesn't matter how advanced technology gets, you can't beat the joy of reading a proper book) to read and, I'm sure if I find them enjoyable, that they will join the ranks on my bookshelves! :D

I've just started Frankenstein and have finished the 'letters to his sister'. So, really, only just started :p So far I'm hooked, and can't wait to read the rest of it!

The thing about the 'classics' is that they are probably at least a part of what inspired the writers of today to write, so we do owe something to them. And, whether you choose to read them or not, you can't forget that they came first :D
 

Pyan

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Um, about 10%/90% LC/Other genres. And the 90% is about 80%/20% SF/F and other other genres. So I guess that makes it 10% Literary Classics, 18% Other Genres and 72% SF/F.

Well, you did ask...


Little Missy said:
(it doesn't matter how advanced technology gets, you can't beat the joy of reading a proper book)

Absolutely. At the moment, I'm reading a lot of online fanfiction from a certain SF/F TV show, but I find that after a couple of hours, I need to go and read something that isn't scrolling, and has a natural break every 30 seconds or so when I turn a page. Also, I haven't got a laptop, Kindle or notebook, so I can't read online when in bed, a large part of my allocated reading time.
 

LittleMissy

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Also, I haven't got a laptop, Kindle or notebook, so I can't read online when in bed, a large part of my allocated reading time.

I've got the laptop, but only set up my wireless connection on Friday, so can only now read Kindle books in comfort, rather than sat upright at the PC. It is easier this way... but still not as good as a real book :D

The scrolling does irrate after a while, and I find the PC/laptop backlight strains the eyes far too soon!

For the bookworm in us all, I think it has to be said, electronics just don't taste as good as paper :D:D:D
 

chrispenycate

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And they don't smell right. New books smell one way, old books another (really old books yet a third). Our lizard brains associate this with the pleasure experienced in the past; perhaps Firminich should be synthesising "essence of second hand bookshop #3: worn leather cover".

But, my storage capacity already severely strained, and a trip to the UK planned, I fear Kindling will soon become a survival necessity.
 

LittleMissy

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And they don't smell right. New books smell one way, old books another (really old books yet a third). Our lizard brains associate this with the pleasure experienced in the past; perhaps Firminich should be synthesising "essence of second hand bookshop #3: worn leather cover".

But, my storage capacity already severely strained, and a trip to the UK planned, I fear Kindling will soon become a survival necessity.

Totally true Chrispenycate... it's the smell and the tangibility of books that makes them so alluring, and you just can't beat it! I must add, I would totally buy "essence of second-hand bookshop". You could spritz a bit of it whilst reading an eBook, for that true and authentic sense!

As you say, for space and survival, perhaps Kindle is the way forward!

However, I would happily (funds allowing) live in a home where every wall and available space was filled with books... that said, I think I would still need eBooks in order to fill my hunger for them!!! :D
 
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Carolyn Hill

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Whenever I've picked up a non-genre literary classic, I've usually enjoyed it. But in over fifty years of reading, whenever I've been left to my own devices, I've almost always chosen to read science fiction and fantasy instead of non-genre classics.

I used to justify this by asserting that science fiction and fantasy can do everything that non-genre classic literature can do, plus more--as if SF&F were the larger category, and non-genre writing were the smaller, more limited category, because non-genre literature doesn't (often) contain fantasy or science fiction elements. In this line of reasoning, the best SF&F would beat out the more limited-in-scope non-genre classic. But this justification was just me blowing smoke.

(BTW: I just bought a Kindle. I love real paper, but I mostly read in bed, on my side, and the Kindle is easy to prop besides me at an angle on a pillow, where it stays without having to be held.)
 

Connavar

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Like Hoopy I've had to read a lot of classics and again like Hoopy, it's not stopped me from enjoying them and continuing to read them now that I don't have to read them. But I now read one only if I really want to not because it's a classic and I ought to.

It's the same with genre fiction. I tend not to really notice what specific category a book falls into and it's always quite amusing to see what books different stores put on their Literature shelves. I certainly don't specifically set out to read or amass a particular category of books.

It seems you and Hoopy are closest to me in type of reader we are. Except i never had to read classics as a kid in school. Not really like they didnt care to force us. I avoided reading them when i had to even. Im a bit ashamed of have been the typical non-reader kid that didnt read more than he had to.

Like you i dont really care about genre types or non genre kind books. I dont look for certain category i must read. Usually i let my mood decide. Should i read the fantasy, sf books in my book pile ? or should read swedish non-genre classics like Lagerlöf,Söderberg or Camus,Sartre book i have current unread at home ? I feel for the mood im in.

Its a blessing i have a broad taste in literature because i know i would be bored otherwise and i would never be avid reader who wants to read 100 books in a year.
 

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