Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share ten reasons why we love something book. I’ve chosen to talk about ten reasons why I love classics and keep returning to them even after having finished my English degree. It’s clear that classic literature is not everyone cup of tea–some bookworms don’t like it because it can be dull, it reminds them of high school English classes where they were forced to read it, or because the Western canon inherently lacks diversity (extremely true). And while I acknowledge that classic literature as a genre is far from perfect, it nevertheless remains one of my favorite genres to read, even when I’m no longer assigned to read it. Here are ten reasons why:
1. I find symbolism fun. I first fell in love with classics because I genuinely found dissecting potential symbolic meanings in the text fun.
2. Exploring different writing styles. From the choppy, terse words of Ernest Hemingway to the florid eloquence of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the sprawling rambles of Jack Kerouac, classics are brimming with fascinating writing styles.
3. Understanding references. Who doesn’t love the satisfying feeling of finally understanding a reference after reading a classic? This doesn’t only apply to references in movies or conversations, but also textual references to classics in other books.
4. Seeing history through the lens of literature. One of the most interesting things about reading classics for me is the idea of viewing a historical moment focalized through the lens of a novel. I think about this a lot whenever I read Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and how it portrays the effects of World War I on British society.
5. Noticing how society has changed, and how it hasn’t. Similar to my mention of a historical perspective, reading classics–particularly American ones, for me–allows you to see how society has progressed since these novels were written, as well as how far we still have to go.
6. “Human” themes. I’m not quite sure how to describe this one, but whenever I read classics I’m filled with a comforting sense of familiarity. It’s strangely reassuring to know that people have felt the same emotions for hundreds of years–perhaps it’s the idea that if they got through it, then so can we.
7. Thinking about their flaws. Strange to see this one on a list of why I love classics, but it’s true! Definitely interesting and important and eye-opening to think about these novels’ flaws, as well as to read other literary responses to them. (For example, the relationship Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea.)
8. Makes me feel connected to a wide web of readers. It’s wild to think that when you read a classic, you’re reading the same text that countless bookworms have read over years. I love the feeling of being part of that interconnected readership.
9. They remind me of my English degree. Do I miss reading classics as part of my homework? Absolutely! Now that I’m in law school, reading classics is a way that I reconnect with something I really adore.
10. I love being swept up in genuinely great stories. Classics are just so interesting, thought-provoking, and entertaining!
Do you like reading classics? Do you have a favorite classic? What’s your favorite genre of books? Let me know in the comments section below!