Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Reasons I Love Classics (even after I’ve finished my English degree)

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!



73 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Reasons I Love Classics (even after I’ve finished my English degree)

  1. I agree with the “human” themes—it’s extremely comforting to know that people have been struggling with the emotions we do for a long time. One of my faves is Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, and of course Jane Austen! I’ve not finished it yet but I also loved Brothers Karamazov while I was reading it.

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  2. Great list! I don’t tend to read classics very often now, but I love returning to them every now and then and I agree that one of my favourite things is using them as a lens to view history. For example, I love Victorian Gothic literature because I love how monsters like werewolves and vampires speak to the populace’s reaction to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and a genuine fear that if we can evolve then we can also devolve.

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  3. Love this list Holly! I’ve always been a big reader of classics stemming from when I read children’s classics in my youth. I’m quite traditional in that my favs would be Dickens, Austen, the Brontes but I do love some of the early 20th century classics too 😊😊😊 The glaring holes in my reading résumé would be Russian classics; Dostoevsky and Tolstoy are on my tbr but I’ve never found myself in the right humour for them…some day though. Great ttt 😊😊😊❤️🧡💚💙

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  4. At the end of the day they’re classics for a reason. I love the classics I have to admit and it’s particularly interesting to see how writing styles have changed.
    I haven’t read Wide Sargasso Sea – do you recommend it?
    Lynn 😀

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  5. Ahh this list is so relatable! Love a good classic. I absolutely adore the book ‘I Capture the Castle’, but not many people seem to have heard of it. Would definitely recommend if you haven’t read it already, and there’s a lovely film adaptation too 🙂 x

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  6. I haven’t read many classics but there are some that I have really enjoyed! It’s interesting to see how writing has changed over time!

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  7. Fun list! I do like reading classics, though I haven’t read as many in awhile. I love The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Much Ado About Nothing and Titus Andronicus – both by Shakespeare of course. Just to name a few. 🙂


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  8. I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds symbolism & writing style so fascinating 😂 I’m a current English minor and I have always loved writing papers about the different books we were assigned to read! There is just something so satisfying about making connections in a book and piecing all of its parts together!

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  9. I haven’t read a lot of classics since I finished my English MA but I’m always looking for a way to get back into them. I totally agree with you on symbolism! I love dissecting imagery and symbolism in books, despite people telling me all the time that it’s not that deep.

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  10. I didn’t like many of the classics that I had to read in high school (maybe because we didn’t get to read any of the fun ones?), but I re-read a few through some of my undergraduate classes (my grad classes were much more fun, because I took a class on Jane Austen and a class on Kurt Vonnegut. We don’t talk about the class on James Joyce lol) and enjoyed them much more. I’ve gone back and read most of the ones that I hated in high school (with the exception of Anna Karenina and The Awakening), and while some are still just meh, others I’ve enjoyed (like Wuthering Heights).

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  11. I loved reading your list! Number 5 is totally true! Reading about how things have changed is always interesting, but reading about how it hasn’t is also quite fascinating and puts the world into perspective! I definitely felt that when I read Lord of the Flies for the first time!

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  12. Yes to all of these! But I have a special love of symbolism, too. In college I loved to write research papers, dissecting books and connecting dots that a casual reader might not see. People think I’m a little strange when I admit that. 😉 Great post!!

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  13. I love reading classics, too — though I haven’t done nearly enough of it lately. Hawthorne is one of my favorites, and I have some of his work sitting on my shelf waiting patiently for me to pick it up.

    Getting the references has always been a big draw for me, but I also like seeing how we have (or haven’t) changed over the years.

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  14. I think one of the things getting a degree in English taught me was that I DON’T like reading classics! At least not all of them. And that’s okay. Some just work so much better for me than others. Now that I’m out of college (by over 20 years), I don’t force myself to read classics. If I pick one up and it grabs my interest, great. If not? DNF, baby!

    Happy TTT!


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  15. It’s something that I’m just getting back into. I think a lot of times reading classics is only ‘difficult’ if that’s how you choose to perceive it. I’m trying to think of it as I would reaching for any other sort of book and it’s really helping me to read more widely

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  16. This post really makes me want to pick up a classic right now ❤ I enjoy reading classics, but I don't read that many of them because they usually do feel like a lot of work as well :') I do agree with all of your points, though. There's just something special about reading a classic novel that so many people have read, loved and referenced before you!

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  17. I have been reading classics for two or three years but I have never done it in any consistent way nor as much as I would like. I feel like since watching more booktubers talking about classics, I have learned about other books and now I have a solid classics TBR. Yet, I still seem to be hesitant or lazy tackling it. I would love to change that so I think that’s some homework to do for me!

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  18. Great post! I read a lot of classics during high school and genuinely liked them for all the reasons you mentioned, but then I graduated and I didn’t read them anymore as I was so distracted by other books – but I’ll have to rediscover my love since there are still so many I haven’t read yet.

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    1. Thank you!! I feel that, I didn’t read many classics last year after I graduated, but now that I’ve been in law school for a year I find myself going back to them ❤


  19. Some excellent reasons here – associated with your number 3 is the fact you can sound so knowledgeable when you answer quiz questions! Once I finished my lit degree I couldn’t bear to pick up a classic for a long time and ended up reading very mediocre crime fiction. But gradually I hungered for something more substantial and meaty – so back to the classics I went. They never fail to engage and provoke.

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  20. Love this post! Really relate! (although, if anything I like reading it more without it being assigned… I’m weird that way 😉 ) I find symbolism fun too and like when I get a reference (especially if it’s obscure 😉 ) I really like seeing history unfold in older novels as well and especially like seeing how some things never change tbh. And yes, they’re just great stories anyway!

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    1. Thank you!! Definitely, it’s interesting seeing how much in classics still seems relevant now–sometimes in good ways, other times in ways that could use some big societal improvement… so interesting to think about!


  21. Love classics as well. One of my favorite types of literature belongs to Romanticism.

    From Dickens to Hugo to Cervantes to Homer- love all these author. If you love Dickens, you will probably love Hugo- those two are parallel authors to each other. My favorite old classic is Les Misérables.

    It is difficult to explain why I love them= they have stories worth telling and characters to fall in love with. I love the challenge that comes with them.


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