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You want to be culturally literate. You want to know all of the witty banter to say when the mood strikes, and you want to know what your strange Cousin Hilda is talking about when she starts to quote Shakespeare at the Christmas dinner table. For whatever reason, you want to read the classics. As you start this journey, you may start to realize reading the classics is easier said than accomplished. It has nothing to do with you not being smart, it may have everything to do with the way you process information. So, let’s take a look at ways to help aid you in reading classic literature.

Watch a Performance

It shouldn’t be a secret that if you watch a Shakespeare play you may become more enlightened with reading the play itself. The best thing about this is most communities have local theatres you can watch performances at a discounted price. Or if you prefer to not spend money at all, you can always see when your local high school is putting on a show. A lot of times these small-town plays will still have great talent.

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Read With a Friend

Okay, this may seem like torture to some, so pick what friends you ask wisely. Sometimes it is easier said than read–and when I say this, I mean reading passages back and forth can sometimes help delve deeper into the meaning behind the words. And, if you happen to be reading Charles Dickens, this may be what keeps you awake.

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Watch a Film Adaptation

Be very careful with this! There are some film adaptations that are great–and some, not so great. If you’re looking for a classic literature film adaptation that closely identifies with the text, it would probably do best to Google reviews of the movies first.

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Keep to a Schedule

Just like if you were in class, it’s sometimes best to keep a reading schedule. Set a goal for yourself that’s easy to accomplish at first, and the more you accomplish your goals, the higher you can achieve. For example, if you’re trying to get through “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy, start off with setting a goal of 10 pages a day before slowly moving up the number of pages you want to read a day. As agonizingly slow that sounds, you’ll feel accomplished that you’re meeting your daily reading goals.

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Read a Summary After Each Chapter

I know that some of us has been brainwashed into thinking Sparknotes is for cheaters, but it’s a great tool. With Sparknotes, you can read a quick summary of chapters you might feel you didn’t quite understand. Sparknotes is also a great place to research more in depth about the characters, plot, motifs, themes, etc. There is also Cliffnotes which is another summary website. Both of these summary websites come in paperback copy versions as well that you can pick up at your local Barnes & Nobles.

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