How To Read Challenging Literature

by gabimaudiere | December 9, 2019 | All the Rest, On Our Radar
challenging literature

The Classics – the ultimate test of challenging literature. It seems that whenever the level of literary esteem is quantified, it seems to always be measured by how many classics one has read (or is currently reading). It’s true many classics are canonized for a reason, but we’re here to tell you that reading these beloved stories doesn’t have to be like eating your vegetables. 

That’s why we’re going to give you 5 useful tricks to help you get through challenging literature – as well as 5 classic book recommendations you’re sure to love.

1. Take Your Time

Reading a challenging text, albeit slowly, will make you a stronger reader. The importance of reading slowly cannot be overstated. Read with patience and try NOT to set any expectations on how quickly you can get through it.

2. Use A Study Guide

We’d certainly be fibbing if we didn’t admit that certain online study guides weren’t exceptionally useful as English undergrads. I mean, you try getting through Milton’s Paradise Lost without one! If you’re finding that whatever text your reading is leaving you more confused than confident, try using a study guide to help clarify those points that seem to go right over your head. We call it being resourceful! Sometimes an outside perspective can really help make the text more digestible.

3. Read One Chapter A Week

If you’ve decided to use War and Peace as your literature test subject, you’ll finish this bad boy in approximately one year. Unlike the first tip, setting intentional goals gives you space in your reading practice to also pick up other books in the meantime. Accomplished your reading goal by Tuesday? Great! Read something fun and easy before going back to Tolstoy.

5. Read Literature You Actually Like

Sometimes it’s important to read about subjects that aren’t of particular interest to you. But for the sake of starting somewhere, pick a book that piques your interest from the moment you’ve finished reading the cover copy. If it doesn’t immediately sound exciting, try something else. Getting used to reading challenging literature takes patience and confidence; once you’ve finished your first book you’ll find that it wasn’t actually that bad and yes, you do actually feel ready to read Nabokov.

Here Are 5 Works Of Classic Literature We Can't Get Enough Of

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray – dripping with pomp, if you’re a fan of Oscar Wilde, it would be a crime not to read this literary gem.
  2. The Prophet – the perfect little book to carry in your pocket should you ever need a poetic pick-me-up.
  3. Little Women – a gentle yet brilliant reminder that women are capable entirely as they are.
  4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – weird, witty, and exceptional. 
  5. War and Peace – for no other reason than you’ll be of a select few (of this generation) to say that yes, you’ve read War and Peace.