Do you ever start really thinking about a topic you’re pretty sure only you care about and you know your opinion is pointless and you should be putting more effort into researching your stupid final paper for your Africa in Bondage class, but you continue to think about that topic anyway because it’s important to you, damnit, and your brain will think the way it wants to?
Well, I had that happen today and so I thought I’d regurgitate my thoughts onto this blog post for you guys for no apparent reason…enjoy!
The other day I was thinking about modern books vs. classic books. I realized that there are so many disappointing modern books I’ve read recently, but I can probably only name on one hand the classic books I’ve read and really haven’t enjoyed. So I started to wonder if this meant that classic books are inherently better than modern books.
Spoiler alert! They aren’t.
But I know what you classic lovers like me will say. If they aren’t better, why is Twilight so much worse than Crime and Punishment, and Les Miserables so much better than Life of Pi. Probably not apt comparisons, but you get my point. So many books popular today are mediocre at best, and so many classics have stood the test of time.
But in that is the crux of the matter. Time is the deciding factor, and modern books are still, well, modern.
According to Wikipedia (though how much is that to be trusted?) in 2013 there were a total of 304,912 books published in the US. That’s nearly 100,000 books published per day, just in one country! I’m going to bet that, even if you are a voracious reader, you could not read a hundred thousand books a day.
But let’s say only about 1,000 of those 300,000 books get popular enough for people like me who are avid readers to at least hear of it. And out of those 1,000, most readers will probably only read a couple dozen in that year. Out of those 1,000 best known books, only a handful of the best will stay popular by, say, 2021. I myself can’t think of many books from 2013 that I read and enjoyed. Crazy Rich Asians was published in 2013 (which I didn’t like), and one of my favorite book Shakespeare Saved My Life by Laura Bates was published that year, but that’s all I can think of.
Out of those 300,000 books published in 2013, I only remember 2. Only those 2 made a strong impression on me.
And that was only 8 years ago. Imagine after 50 years, I probably won’t remember either of those books.
Now imagine classics. They go through all of this and more. There were many books which came out in 1864, but you can probably only think of a handful (Journey to the Center of the Earth, Uncle Silas, etc.).
So it’s easy for me to read ten of the 300,000 books published in 2013 and dislike all of them, because the odds are they won’t be the two which hold their popularity for two hundred years.
Classics have gone through the wringer and been chosen as the best books time and time again. That doesn’t mean there aren’t great books being published in the modern day, just that they haven’t had a change to weed out the best couple from all the mediocre ones. In another century, those books which have stood the test of time will become the new classics.
Saying that, I do think there are a lot of worse books published now then a century ago, but that is merely because it’s so much easier to publish a book now. This makes worse authors able to publish. It also makes better authors able to publish too who are outside the mainstream, so I guess I can tolerate it.
Anyway, what is your opinion about classics? Are they better then modern books? Or just the best classics are better than the average modern book, which is my opinion. Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, thank you so much for reading, follow my blog for more musings, and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,