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Why young adults aren’t reading classic novels anymore; Here’s why they should

Isabella Santoro

Anchor Staff Writer

Photo via Learning Liftoff

It seems that the classic novel is becoming obsolete as we speak. These days it is not always easy to find someone reading classic literature. Even as a 20 year old, I cannot say I have read as many classic novels as I would have liked to by this age. The outstanding theme I can say that I often see with children and classic literature is that “it’s boring” and “too hard to understand”. This makes sense in its own right, because everyone has different tastes in novels, but the issue goes deeper.

Upon observation, it makes sense as to why I have seen so many Barnes and Nobles’ promoting classic literature and novels by creating so many editions and setting them up everywhere. These works include Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Orwell, Austen and more. These are then lowered in prices to as low as $4.95, which feels like an insult to the writers. But nonetheless, it almost felt like an epidemic of failing classic literature.

Both young adults now-a-days connect these novels to school books and what they had to read in high school. There’s that word “had.” The majority of this generation feels that they are forced to go out of their comfort zone and struggle to get through a novel that they couldn't care less about. Interestingly enough so many novels of this day and age take some typical elements from famous classic literature. The classic enemies to lovers trope comes from Romeo and Juliet just like the age-old trope of forbidden love. That is only one of so many examples of how classic literature influences the novels this generation is more interested in reading.

I have noticed that the topics in older novels are not interesting to young adults because they feel that these topics are outdated and too old to relate to. It needs to be understood that human nature while evolving often stays the same too. People still fall in love and people still fight. So many of the topics included in books back then are still heavily prevalent in today’s society. Rather the biggest issue with classic novels is the grammar and writing style. People do not understand how these books are written due largely to the fact that writing styles have evolved over time to become much simpler. Even some of the language, for me, is not the easiest to understand, because this generation was not taught to have an ability to perfectly understand older styles of writing. This could be why people will be so quick to say “This book is boring” because they just don’t understand the way they are written.

This generation needs to get back into classic literature for several reasons. For one, these novels are some of the basic frameworks for the novels we are seeing today and they provide, even if you don’t see it, some of the most famous tropes in history. They lay it all out for writers of this day and age. Without the new renditions of classic literature we wouldn’t have this understanding of where tropes came from and why they always seem to reappear.

While these books don’t offer the diversity and inclusive characters we would like to see more or, they do offer tremendous ideas to build off of. They are the catalysts for so many books these days, and that is immensely important. Young adults of this generation should get more into reading classic novels to build their understanding of older scripture and more difficult words and phrases.

This generation is so unsophisticated in their ways of writing and reading. To know that the reason why this happens is because individuals don’t have the practice of understanding older styles of writing. If by reading, even just one classic novel, individuals can and will grasp more knowledge of the many writing styles, this would be incredible. Of course, it would be impossible to expect everyone will desire to read every single classic novel out there, but there are so many different choices. For example, “Catcher in The Rye” is nothing like “Pride and Prejudice” other than the fact that they are famous novels and yet people will put them in one category. This is completely unfair as each novel has vastly different elements and plots. One cannot say that all of these novels are boring and have no point, because they haven’t taken the time to really understand all of the ways in which the novels differ from each other. When you really think about it, why do we see these novels as becoming obsolete? Is it the readership or is it the novels themselves?


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