Thursday, 23 May 2013

Why should we read classic books?

Traditionally, it's geeks who tend to read classic books, and I include myself in this, but really it shouldn't be. There are so many reasons why people should be reading more classics and so for some reason I'm now going to write this down....

1) Firstly these are books that have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years and yet are still being printed today. So there must be a reason, right?? For me, classics are generally really great stories, and yes you do have to pick and choose which classics you read because some are heavy going, but there are so many out there which are seriously the best books I've ever read. Honestly, the classic books are often the ones I remember as favourites more than contemporary books. Also, I love that you always know when you're reading a book by Dickens or Bronte or whoever, you are reading one of the best books you will ever read in your life.

2) Generally classic books are universal in their relevance. It's weird to try and imagine all the people who have read the words of classic books before you and to think about the different ways they would interpret each word. I've always thought it's quite humbling to realise that each classic book must have relevance to at least some people, and even if you don't find the book that is most relevant to you straight away (I mean, I've been trying and failing to read 'Pride and Prejudice' for the past 8 years. Unfortunately that's not an exaggeration..), you can pretty much bet that there will be a classic out there somewhere that applies to you and which will likely change your life in some way, however that might be.

3) Classic literature makes you have to think in order to read because if you don't engage your brain then you just don't get it. This is definitely a flaw in some cases (last year I went on holiday to Paris during the summer and was stuck trying to finish 'Crime and Punishment', which is basically a russian book about a man who kills an old woman and his psychological issues, not exactly a relaxing holiday read...) and I've always thought it's necessary to be exposed to a mix of genres of books, but classics are great because they just make you learn. I've always found it oddly satisfying to write sophisticated sounding words in essays (in the same way you know you've probably written something well if you manage to use a semi-colon in the right place) and reading classic literature can teach you so many new words, even if you do need to keep a dictionary constantly on your bedside table.

4) Finally, although this probably shouldn't be the only motivation to read classics, it's always nice to be able to say you've read certain books. I mean if someone asks if you've read 'David Copperfield', it's much more fun being able to say yes than no, although I'm not entirely sure when anybody would ever ask you that in casual conversation, but you know what I mean. It also means you can understand some of the things people say which you otherwise might not, which is always nice.

So really, although I guess you should only really read classics if you want to, rather than having to because that way you're unlikely to get anywhere, I couldn't recommend the majority of them more. Happy reading!


  1. You need to read pride and prejudice! :)

    1. hahah yeah :L I might attempt it during summer.. you should so read a Tale of Two Cities by the way, it's so sad :'(

  2. I will have to read that book! I like Dickens. ;)
    I followed your blog (obviously) and I like it very much.