In truth the real classics, the works that truly have earned a place in the canon, are read because they’re the most satisfying and enjoyable books to read. They are, in the most concise way of putting it, good books.I particularly like what she writes about "fluff":
Yet for many readers, the classics are books that seem dull and difficult, only to be read under duress, for a class or a particularly unfortunate book group. Why is this? There are a lot of reasons ... but one reason is a simple one: if you haven’t developed a taste for good books, you won’t enjoy them. Conversely, once you do develop that taste, you’ll find the best books, the classics, to be the very best of literary friends.
Inoffensive fluff has the problem that it can deaden one’s capacity for appreciating truly great literature. It’s not the content that’s the problem. The problem is that fluff is sticky. You get used to it. Bad writing is easy to read; you don’t have to wrestle with it, because whatever’s there, is right there on the surface. Bad writing doesn’t make you think; it numbs the mind rather than develops it ...Good stuff. Read the whole thing here.
Dr. Ordway posted this early in 2010. I recently started following her blog, Hieropraxis, which features short essays on apologetics, literature, culture, and the like.
Ordway is an English professor and a former atheist who loves Hopkins and Donne, so I can't help but feel that she's a kindred spirit. I highly recommend her book, Not God's Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith, published last year by Moody Press.