5 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading The Classics

I have known plenty of people who feel that reading fiction novels, including the Classics, is a fruitless endeavor that will accomplish nothing. They feel that you cannot learn anything new from reading a work of fiction, so why should you bother? They feel that the only books worth reading are non-fiction and/or reference books.

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As much as I love non-fiction, I have compiled a list of five reasons you should read the Classics.

#1: You will improve your vocabulary:

It doesn’t matter if you want to impress that girl at the coffee shop, boost your test scores, or simply deliver more unique and engaging presentations at the office – Reading the classics will familiarize yourself with words that will boost your intelligence.

Reading Classics of Greek and Latin origins, in particular, will develop your personal vocabulary. Over 70% of all words in the English language are derived from Greek and Latin [1]. As a result, knowing the Latin and Greek prefixes, roots, and suffixes will help you to remember definitions as well as determine the meaning of new words that you may come across.

#2: You will become a more empathetic person:

Reading fiction strengthens your social empathy, and reading works that are of high quality and strongly character-driven furthers this.

#3: You will be challenging yourself:

Not only do the Classics tend to have universal themes that have survived the test of time, but they are also a bit more challenging than commercial fiction [2].  Not only will you find deep characters, experiences, emotions, and overall perspectives, but you will also be reading books that you will be proud to be seen reading. You may not like them all, but you will undoubtedly find something you will love.

#4: You will become an interesting conversationalist:

You will be able to drop literary references during conversation, as well as be able to offer some other cultural references. Allusions to concepts and characters such as “Big Brother”, the fact that Frankenstein is not the monster, knowing what an Oedipus complex is, and more will no longer go straight over your head. Plus, hundreds of common words and expressions come straight from Shakespeare. Not only will you be more familiar with them, but you will be able to cite the original source.  You will have something to bring to the conversation and, as a result, seem more interesting.

#5: If you don’t use it, you lose it:

The works of Shakespeare have been proven to give your brain quite the workout [3]. Do you want to improve cognitive function, but aren’t a fan of math? A close reading of Jane Austen has been shown to be associated with a level of cognitive complexity that matches – if not surpasses – solving a challenging math equation [4].

Sources Cited:

[1] A Case for Classics in Middle School

[2] 10 of Literature’s Most Notoriously Incomprehensible Classics

[3] The Shakespeared Brain

[4] Reading the Classics: It’s More Than Just For Fun

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  1. Excellent post! Often, my students -and my kids- ask me why they should be read, and I always tell them it will help them improve their vocabulary, but you just gave more reasons as to why they should. I loved this post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. #2 here is the biggest one in my opinion. Fiction and classics, more than any other type of book, seem to allow people to be more open minded towards others. I don’t know if that’s a proven fact or not, but I see it in the people I’ve met. Those who read very little or exclusively read non-fiction appear to be far more closed minded than those who read a mix that includes a lot of fiction.


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