I started reading DC comics last week and so far I've been reading up on a lot of the background to the DC universe and trying to get a feel for which are the 'important' books to read. I'd like to get a feel for the general timeline, knowing full well that it gets tossed about several times. What I'm wondering now is, how much Pre-New 52 stuff is it worth reading as 'background'? I mean, there's a tonne of it available and there must be some great moments in there, but ultimately, as an ongoing DC-reader, would it be better just to focus my attention on the newer continuity? Even if this is the case, I think I'd still quite like a whistle-stop tour of some of the highlights of the older stuff, as I think if I don't read it now, I probably won't want to go back to it once I start on the New 52 - so I'd appreciate any suggestions on a pre-2011 reading list.
As a starting point I went with Crisis On Infinite Earths, as from what I can see this is meant to be the watershed moment in the modern DC era. This also gave me a very brief introduction to a lot of the DC universe characters and themes (along with 'History of the DC Universe'). I've just started looking into the 1986 'Legends' crossover (with tie-ins) to try and get a bit more in-depth with that era. Once I've finished that, I'm planning to just move on to Zero Hour, and then most likely just go Infinite Crisis - Final Crisis - Flashpoint - New 52 regular books.
Does anyone have any opinions on this approach? Is it pointless/ ambitious/ misguided? Can anyone suggest any key books/ arcs I should definately look into to supplement this approach, with the ultimate aims being both seeing the best of the old stuff but also setting up for the New 52 continuity.
Thanks for your time - bet you guys get sick of these 'help I'm new, suggest me stuff!' posts huh? ;)