Practical Classics by Kevin Smokler

Posted November 28, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 2 Comments

Practical Classics by Kevin SmoklerTitle: Practical Classics (Goodreads)
Author: Kevin Smokler
Published: Prometheus Books, 2013
Pages: 320
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Classics have a lot to say about life, the problem is the ones that are forced upon us during high school are normally hated or forgotten about. Teachers pick books that are designed to teach important lessons as well as develop critically reading skills. Kevin Smokler has decided to reread those classics and try to tell the reader why we should reread them.

Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School is a collection of essays that often remind the reader what these classics have to offer but told in a very accessible and humours ways. I’m not sure where I first heard about this book, I want to say Books on the Nightstand but I can’t be too sure. I’ve always had an interest in classics and what is assigned in English classes around the place.

The only book I remember studying in High School was Romeo and Juliet and I have to admit I never read it, we ended up watching the movie instead; the Baz Luhrmann version was just released. So I never had a chance to learn about the classics and reading critically. These are new skills I’m still developing. When I suddenly gained an interest in reading and education and have often spent time thinking about what books I would want to teach (see this old post where I pick some books to teach).

Out of the 50 books in this novel; I think I only read a small portion of them so Smokler has really destroyed my TBR list with so many more novels. Not that it really is his fault; I will probably read most of them anyway. I’m interested in knowing why some of these books were chosen, I couldn’t work that out at times and really want to learn more about how they pick the books. Kevin Smokler stated that he reread the books he was assigned in high school and then consulted friends, teachers, etc. to get a nice round 50.

This doesn’t help answer the question I had but it was probably the most practical way to pick books. I’m just fascinated in the idea of studying literature and the process behind deciding what to teach. I’m taking the time to work through an English Lit course and I hope it doesn’t squash my passion for the topic to continue further in. I would love to know if there were books that could help satisfy my curiosity; I will continue to search for them.

I wasn’t much of a non-fiction reader for a long time (in fact I’ve only been a reader since 2009), but books about books are my newfound interest. Kevin Stoker’s book really was a fascinating read and I want people to recommend me some more non-fiction books that will help. Stoker mentioned two in his book that I am to pick up and I hope some of the readers of this will give me some more. If you are interested in learning why classics are important, or you are just interested in books about books, this is a nice addition.

2 responses to “Practical Classics by Kevin Smokler

  1. Violet

    I’m a big believer in just reading the books themselves, instead of reading books about books. That way, we get to form our own opinions and ideas about them rather than go into the reading with half-formed notions of what to expect and how to interpret them. I say just pick your poison, either Penguin Classics or Oxford World Classics, and read any book on their classics list. They usually have a decent introduction and explanatory notes, and there are plenty of resources on the web that can help with analysis.

    I have no clue why people teach certain books. In my jaded opinion, I think that teachers do the classics a disservice by trying to teach bored kids books that they’re not interested in. I think that most kids aren’t ready to read classic novels, and it’s only when they have some life experience that they can fully appreciate them. I’d rather kids were taught books that were more relevant to their lives and stage of psychological development. Maybe then they wouldn’t form an implacable hatred for the term “classic” and would be willing to read classic novels as adults.

    • Oxford World Classics, always them over Penguin! I don’t think any of the authors opinions will effect my views; I would of forgotten what they said by the time I get to reading it 😛 But I get what you are saying, I just love books about books and need to get out of a slump

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