#LetsDiscuss2020 #22 – Older vs Newer Books – Let’s Talk Bookish #3 – #DiscussionSunday.

bookishtclThis article was inspired by the Let’s Talk Bookish topic hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion (and a special thank you to them for making me this new, blue graphic at my specific request. Ain’t it pretty? What could I do? I’m just not into green, yellow, or pink), for the week December 11-17, suggested by Eleanor @ Wishing Upon a Star, which is:

The Writing Styles of Classics and Contemporaries: How do They Compare?

Examples of questions you can answer: “Do you prefer reading classics or contemporaries? What differences do you notice between the two? Why do you think the “classics” have been designated classics and are studied in school? Are there any newer books that remind you of classics?”


These are my personal opinions. I do not expect anyone to agree with anything here, and in fact, I’m certain that many will disagree and/or even hate many of the things I’ve written below. Sorry about that, but you are always welcome to express your own opinions – be they contrary or comparable – in the comments section below. With that out of the way…

NOTE: I’m tweaking this discussion topic a bit. I’m not going to be talking about the classics. Why? Because I don’t believe all old books are classics just by virtue of their age, and I also believe some recently published books are already considered to be classics, and rightfully so. Therefore, I think  I’ll discuss vintage vs modern/contemporary writing styles.

Discussion Sunday #letsdiscuss2020

Do you prefer reading vintage novels (written at least 40-50 years ago) or more contemporary works?

As a matter of fact, I can’t say that I actually prefer one over the other. Sometimes newer novels can be innovative, and getting to read an ARC before most of the public has had a chance to read something is very appealing. On the other hand, I also like finding out if other readers’ long-beloved novels are works I too can treasure. Plus, finding a hidden gem from a writer of the past can be just as exciting as discovering a new novelist whose career I would like to follow in the future. So, I can’t say as I prefer one over the other, since both have their pluses. Of course, they both have their minuses. Sometimes a newer novelist will write something so strange or unusual that their work could make their stories unpleasant for me to read. That said, writers from the past might use language that is antiquated to make it difficult for me to understand. Either way, I still say they’re about equal for me.

What differences do you notice between the two? 

First of all, let me say that I’m utterly grateful to Dean Street Press for introducing me to some vintage British authors – mostly female – that I would never have even known about, if it hadn’t been for their re-releasing them (and their giving me some ARCs, as well). It is mostly through their books that I feel I can discuss this topic with some knowledge.

The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is the language. Not so much the vocabulary, but more the sentence structure. See, (in general) works written decades ago, seem to have slightly more formal ways of phrasing things, less conversational than what we read in newer novels. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing, but it can make reading older works a touch more difficult than reading newer ones. However, it also makes the prose of older novels feel more poetic, which I love.

Obviously, there are things in newer books that could never appear in older ones – such as modern technology and the like. However, I believe that the basic tropes and themes have always been much the same, no matter when they were written. For example, romance might look a bit different today than it did during the 19th century, but it is still romance – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl – even if the genders are slightly adjusted these days. People still solve mysteries, but today they use Google while in a previous era they might have to visit a library. Murders are murders, and although forensics have advanced over the years, evidence,  motive, and opportunity are still the things that you need in order to prove that someone is guilty of the crime.

In short, I don’t see much difference between books written long ago from those written today, except when it comes to the language and sentence structure of the prose. Maybe you know of something else, but that’s all I can find.

So… what do you think?

Do you think there is a difference between older books and those published more recently?

If so, do you find you prefer one over the other, and why do you prefer those?

What makes you like one better than the other?

This post is also my 22nd entry in the 2020 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!


13 thoughts on “#LetsDiscuss2020 #22 – Older vs Newer Books – Let’s Talk Bookish #3 – #DiscussionSunday.

  1. I love discovering or (re)discovering older authors, and, to be honest, wish I could find time to read more of them. Virago Press in the 1980s really introduced me to so fantastic older women writers and I’m forever grateful to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love vintage novels. (I like that descriptor.) I enjoy the formality of the writing and the glimpse into past social mores. I’ve been working on reading Agatha Christie’s work in its entirety. I think one of the things that makes her a great writer is that as you read from beginning to end, you see how she has changed with the times. Dame Agatha uses the contemporary interests of the culture around her within her books. It’s really quite interesting to observe!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve found that older books can become favorite treasures to be read and re-read IF they are timeless. By that I mean that if they portray human nature in an honest way. A perfect example is “Mixed Marriage” by Elizabeth Cadell (1963). It’s laugh out loud funny and as you read you can picture your own family members acting exactly as the characters do.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Generally I read more contemporary novels than older novels. However, I am currently re-reading Dune, which is 55 years old. And the language doesn‘t feel old or dated at all. I am enjoying it immensely.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice way to spin the question! I agree that the basic ingredients of literature are timeless. That’s why we’re still reading really old books, after all, like ancient epics and philosophers. There are things about the human being that do not change and that can be so fascinating to learn about through reading, no matter what the publication date.

    In terms of writing style, I think at any age there are books that are sloppily written in the contemporary lingo of the time, and those that are more artistically crafted. Today, there are simply SO MANY more books being written and published than ever before that there are huge numbers of examples along the whole spectrum there. I couldn’t say I prefer older or newer books, but I appreciate well-written books whenever they appear.

    The social conventions are more obviously different. I’ve enjoyed lots of those Dean Street Press books, too, and there one can clearly see how much the options and expectations for women, especially have changed. However, it doesn’t necessarily make me not want to read the older books if they contain outdated gender roles and so forth. That’s the way things were when they were written, and we can learn from that too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent point about past social conventions… Thanks. I think as I grow older, I can appreciate older works more. Not that I can’t appreciate newer works, but there’s a style to the older ones that draws me in more these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. In terms of prose, I generally prefer older books. The writing is often more complex and, frankly, more likely to be beautiful or interesting (in my personal opinion). There are a lot of great modern stories, and I like reading new books, but the writing styles are often underwhelming.

    There are exceptions, though. I was trying to read Far from the Madding Crowd, and Hardy is over the top with his descriptions. I think I lost it at his comparing a dog to Napoleon, at length, for no reason besides he seemed to think it sounded good or clever. It didn’t add to the story!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wrote this before I read a book of selected prose by Oscar Wilde… boy if ever you could see the difference between today’s prose and prose from previous centuries, its with his writing.


  7. I think I agree….a great story is a great story whenever it was published! The best themes tend to be timeless. Classics are fascinating though! I love to experience the time and place and even language conventions! Recently, I loved my reread of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn!

    Liked by 2 people

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