Are you Trapped in the Canon? The Cost of Reading Only Old Books

Tara H

Hatched by Tara H

May 30, 2024

3 min read


Are you Trapped in the Canon? The Cost of Reading Only Old Books

In the world of literature, there seems to be an unspoken reverence for the classics. The books that have stood the test of time, revered by generations, and held up as the pinnacle of literary achievement. But what if we're missing out on something by solely focusing on the canon? What if the act of reading only old books is limiting our perspective and hindering our growth?

It's important to remember that reading is a subjective experience. Just because 99 people read a particular book and arrive at a specific worldview, that doesn't mean it will also be true for you. Each individual brings their own unique set of experiences, beliefs, and values to the table, which inevitably shapes their interpretation of a text.

For instance, take the example of Harry Potter. As a widely beloved series, many readers view Molly Weasley as a great mother figure. However, there are those who disagree based on their own experiences and observations of the character. This difference in interpretation doesn't make either side wrong; it simply highlights the subjectivity of reading.

Incorporating a diverse range of literature, including contemporary works, can broaden our horizons and offer fresh perspectives. By limiting ourselves to the canon, we risk missing out on the voices and stories of marginalized communities, as well as new and innovative literary techniques. It is through exposure to these new ideas that we can challenge our own beliefs and expand our understanding of the world.

But how do we break free from the confines of the canon and explore new literary territory? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Diversify Your Reading List: Make a conscious effort to include books from a variety of time periods, genres, and cultures. Seek out works written by authors from different backgrounds and perspectives. This will expose you to a wider range of ideas and help you break free from the limitations of the canon.
  • 2. Join a Book Club or Reading Group: Engaging in discussions with others who have different reading preferences can be enlightening. Hearing different interpretations and perspectives can challenge your own preconceived notions and open your mind to new possibilities.
  • 3. Embrace Contemporary Literature: Don't shy away from books that have recently been published. Explore the works of emerging authors and be open to the exploration of new themes and ideas. By staying up to date with contemporary literature, you can actively participate in the ongoing conversation of the literary world.

In conclusion, while there is value in reading the classics and understanding the literary canon, it is equally important to venture beyond its confines. By diversifying our reading habits and embracing contemporary literature, we can gain fresh insights, challenge our own biases, and expand our worldview. Remember, reading is a personal journey, and it is up to each individual to curate their own literary landscape. So go out there, explore, and break free from the trap of the canon.

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