Last year, when my 10th grade son was assigned The Scarlet Letter in English, he moaned and groaned and went online to SparkNotes. That took me back to my own high school days, when I did the same thing to avoid reading Moby Dick, and got a C on the exam.
That gave me an idea. I gently edited The Scarlet Letter to flow more smoothly and make it less frustrating. It still felt like the original because, essentially, it still was the original—I just made it more readable.
My son read my version alongside the original, chapter by chapter, and was able to understand and appreciate it. He got an A on the exam. I published the book.
Readable Classics was born.
I was on a roll. I had a score to settle with my past. So I rewrote Moby Dick. With the brooding obsession of Captain Ahab, I conquered my nemesis, the White Whale.
Then I rewrote Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and The Odyssey. I’m now working on The Red Badge of Courage. The reviews on Amazon are glowing--even the literary purists like them. And students are ecstatic.
I also recently published a mashup, Emma and the Vampires, with the intent of introducing a gently-edited Jane Austen to young adult readers in a friendly way, laced with Twilight-type vampires.
My work is challenging, enjoyable and satisfying. The classics have opened up a whole new world to me. I finally understand why these books have been continuously published for two hundred years--they have something important to say.
Jane Eyre was the first novel in English literature where a woman was the hero. Pride and Prejudice was the first novel to challenge the ridiculous notion that women were second-class citizens.
But the best part of writing Readable Classics? Students and adults have told me that my books have helped them overcome their fear of great literature. And that is the most rewarding part of all.
Wayne has offered to give away one of his readable classics. The winner gets to choose 1 book from his site. Here are the list of books:
The Scarlet Letter
Pride and Prejudice
The Odyssey--will be released this month
The Red Badge of Courage—coming in November
Emma and the Vampires
You can swing by his website to check out the first chapter of each book if you're having trouble deciding. This giveaway is OPEN TO EVERYONE! It will end on October 26th at 11:59 pm central standard time.
Fill out this form to enter and good luck!