Why you should be reading the classics

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I definitely consider myself a bookworm. Since I was young I have been dreaming about my future house and about turning one of its rooms into a library. And if I don’t have a spare room I’ll have to turn my bedroom into a library with a bed in one corner. Just imagine the scenario. I don’t think you would ever see me outside again. No, I would spend every single minute reading while sipping on a cup of vanilla tea or a hot cocoa. With reading I often stick to the same genre of books – I have to admit that I’m a sucker for romantic novels although I also like reading thrillers, historical fiction or non-fiction as well as books about philosophy. This summer however I decided to venture out and dive into another category of books, one that I had left unexplored since leaving High School: classical literature.

Like I said I read quite a lot of classics at school (partly because I wanted to and partly because I had to) and I actually fell in love with quite a few, especially with the classic of classics, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I even picked this novel for my coursework but more about that later. After leaving school I took a break from classical literature – having to read and analyse 8 different novels (one of them containing 800 pages, cheers for that!) in a short period of time might have contributed to that decision. Until recently I stuck to modern novels but this summer I decided to widen my book knowledge and set myself the challenge of reading at least 3 classics.
I still had ‘To the Lighthouse’ and ‘Sense&Sensibility’ sitting in my drawer, only waiting to be picked up and read. So I started with these two and after finishing them I picked up ‘Emma’ at bookshop in Notting Hill which I’m still currently reading. Reading these books has turned out to be very rewarding and I’m very happy to have set myself this challenge. And I’m going to explain why. First of all reading classics means diving into an ‘old new world’. Reading always opens the door to a whole new world and allows you to dive straight into it but when reading classics the experience is even more intense. You get to know a world that would be hidden from you otherwise and you learn how our ancestors used to live. Reading classics can be seen as a journey into the past, the past of humanity, and exploring it is incredibly interesting. History suddenly becomes vivant and all the facts you learned in history lessons suddenly start to make sense and are filled with life. You aren’t just reading about history, you are practically living it through a character. And especially characters such as Elizabeth and Elinor make this journey interesting, as critics of society.
Reading classics doesn’t only give you the chance to explore the history of humanity, it also gives you the opportunity to explore the history of our language and I can assure you that will pick up some great – and sometimes odd – expressions on the way. But honestly, I sometimes wish that people still spoke like that. Well maybe not like Shakespeare though, that would complicate things for sure. Or would thou prefer that? Reading classics is also a great way to learn about your background, where your morals and values come from and how they have changed overtime. In a way, books are the reflection of society and authors often criticise and suggest improvements. Often they ridicule traditions and point out very well where the strength and weaknesses of society lie. Reading classical literature also contains the opportunity of self-reflection and the opportunity to reflect upon our current society. When I chose to write an essay about Pride&Prejudice I analysed the role of women in early 19th century Britain and if the characters in the book applied to these stereotypes. If you have read Pride&Prejudice you know as well as me that Elizabeth doesn’t represent these stereotypes at all and that she can be seen as a heroine of this era. Looking at society nowadays it becomes clear that a lot has changed for the better in terms of feminism but that we still have a long way to go. So in a way, classical literature also provides us with a perspective and makes us appreciate the improvements and often see history and society nowadays in a better light. And of course it teaches us what still has to be done.
Speaking of – many people also consider ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ classical literature and although I am not sure where the line is drawn this book is an excellent example of how we can learn from reading classics. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ points out the flaws of society very well and although racism has become a less obvious issue it is still a problem nowadays and just like Atticus does, we have to fight against it. So that’s my last point – classical literature also urges us to fight for a better world, just like the heroes and heroines do in the novels. It teaches us that there is always room for improvement and that we can make the world a better place by ‘fighting’ for equality and peace. There weren’t many women like Elizabeth back then, but now there certainly are. We just have to keep standing up for our rights and question the norms and values of the society we are living in. And why not do that by reading classics? I have definitely fallen in love with reading classical literature and can’t see myself taking another break from it any time soon.
Do you enjoy reading classical literature? Which classic is your favourite? x
  • I love reading the classics, think its all I have been reading lately. I am currently reading War and Peace, and it's pretty good so far. I think if you love reading you should read at least one classic in your time πŸ™‚ My favourite would probably have to be Wuthering Heights or Pride & Prejudice, I'm not sure.

    Vikki | planetvikkiblog.wordpress.com

  • I completely agree with that, I think we should all dive into the world of classics at one point. I really need to read Wuthering Heights, that has been on my list for a very long time xx

  • Pride & Prejudice is definitely my favourite classic but I love most Jane Austen books! I'm such a bookworm too although it's actually been a while since I picked up a classic so I might have to borrow some off my mum!
    Amy xx
    http://www.callmeamy.co.uk

  • I've read a lot of classic boots during my school time, but I have to say I struggle with them actually. Especially the older one and the way the English is written, but I'm always open to reading more. I can't say I've read any of the ones you suggested!

    Raindrops of Sapphire

  • I love reading the classics! I am a massive Dickens fan, his writing and stories are just incredible! Great post lovely!

    Ella xx
    http://www.inellaselement.co.uk

  • I mostly read fantasy or contemporary YA novels but ever since I read Pride & Prejudice I've been falling in love with classics more and more. I can't say that I've read a ton of them so far but I did read some & there are quite a few I really want to check out. Reading more books by Jane Austen is definitely on the list πŸ™‚ I agree so much with all the points you made in this post on why reading classics is a good idea. They really do educate the reader on the background of that time. Also, I love the idea of turning an entire room into a library – how cool would that be?! x

    Sara’sChapters

  • Love this post so much! As an English literature graduate I agree so much with all your points and I think we have a lot to learn through books as much as science or maths. My favourite is Pride And Prejudice too and also Jane Eyre. Emma is next on my list! x
    – Clare | stereo-clare.blogspot.co.uk

  • I don't have many classics either but you can usually get them at second hand book shops. Pride & Prejudice is amazing, definitely one of my favourite books too! xx

  • I completely get that, I also struggled with some books at school and especially Shakespeare etc isn't an easy read. You could try Emma, this one is pretty easy to read πŸ™‚ xx

  • I need to read his books! xx

  • I also read a lot of contemporary YA novels and even my mother still enjoys reading them. I haven't read many classics either but we all have to start somewhere. πŸ˜‰ Thank you, I believe that reading classics could really lead to more tolerance & a better world overall. Exactly, that would be the dream!! xx

  • Thank you, that means a lot! Very well said, I completely agree with that. Jane Eyre is on my list too, I've wanted to read it for a very long time. xx

  • Pride and Prejudice is my all time favourite; the book, the movie, love everything about it!

    Yiota
    PinkDaisyLoves

  • I love classics too, and I think P&P is definitely my favourite!

    Kelly // Velvet and Vibranium

  • Me too! xx

  • It is an amazing book! xx

  • Classic literature is my absolute favourite! I think I would choose Alice's Adventures In Wonderland or Wuthering Heights as my number 1 x
    http://www.britishmermaid.com

  • Kay

    This is such a beautifully written post! I've had to read some of the Eastern European classics when I was younger and living in Poland, and found a lot of them to be quite heavy to read. The language has changed so much over the years, although it's interesting to read about history, and what life was like back then, in general. x x Tempted to check out some of your recommendations, thank you for sharing, hun! <3

    Kay
    http://www.shoesandglitter.com/

  • I am not a big fan of classics but I really enjoy your writing. I do agree that by reading classics we can point out what happened in that time when it also happen in this time, especially about humanity πŸ™‚

    xoxo,

    |CHELSHEAFLO BLOG|
    |INSTAGRAM|

  • Wuthering Heights has been on my list for ages, I really need to read it! xx

  • Thank you, Kay! I can imagine that these are difficult, I found a lot of German literature really hard to read, too, especially Goethe etc. It's really interesting though and I still enjoyed reading them. You should check out Emma or Pride & Prejudice. πŸ™‚ xx

  • Thank you! True, that's what I love about it. πŸ™‚ xx