Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven't Touched Since High School

Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven't Touched Since High School - Kevin Smokler I came across this book in a booth at the 2013 San Francisco Writers' Conference and was immediately intrigued. Author Kevin Smokler revisits some of the classics he was assigned in high school, as well as some of the books and essays that are being assigned currently. Smokler graduated high school 10 years after I did, so he touches on some books that I read for pleasure, and a few with which I was unfamiliar.Each chapter is an essay about one of the 50 titular books, with Smokler's thoughts about the work.What's particularly fascinating here is the different eyes with which Smokler examines these books as an adult. His life experience puts the tales into a different perspective. I had a similar experience when I re-read [b:Siddhartha|52036|Siddhartha|Hermann Hesse||4840290], so I was curious to see his take on some of the books I had in high school and college, and to see about some of the new books.A particularly interesting example is Smokler's essay on [b:The Hound of the Baskervilles|8921|The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes, #5)|Arthur Conan Doyle||3311984], where he takes an opportunity to examine the relatively modern concept of work/life balance. Smokler discusses how Dr. Watson doesn't practice medicine during the entire book; he is able to leave his practice to help his friend, and not worry about being a physician all the time. Holmes, on the other hand, sees himself as his job and is insulted at the very idea when it is brought up by one of the other characters.With essays on books ranging from [b:I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings|13214|I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings|Maya Angelou||1413589] and[b:The Age of Innocence|53835|The Age of Innocence|Edith Wharton||1959512], and as varied as [b:A Separate Peace|5148|A Separate Peace|John Knowles||39755] and [b:The Autobiography of Malcolm X|92057|The Autobiography of Malcolm X|Malcolm X||47400], readers are sure to find an opportunity to revisit an old favorite (or the one that made you groan the most; Smokler includes an essay entitled "The Scarlet Letter: I Didn't Like It, Either"). Those who enjoy literary commentary and criticism will find this book well worth their time.