We all come from somewhere. We all have a heritage, past, and story that follows us for our entire lives. There is no point in denying that we are affected by past decisions, as they are the building blocks to our understanding of everyone and everything. Knowing this, I think it’s very important to read, as it creates a creative and safe understanding for your future self to come back to. But why read books without symbolism, metaphors, and philosophy brimming the pages? I personally think that a book is dry without an interesting perspective and meaning behind the writing. And to me, this is exactly what classic novels have shown to give.
I’m not saying that newer books are completely intolerable. There are some quite nice ones, like The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, or Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, in which both are captivating and interesting stories. No matter what kind of book you read, they all tell stories, but classics truly tell the best and most well-written ones.
Classics have everything. From real, fiction, dystopia and more; they have any genre listed in any textbook. From a reader of all different interests compared to a reader of only a few types, all will be satisfied. Branching off that, they’re knowledgeable. Maybe it’s because of their wise aesthetic and old English tone, but when reading literature’s finest, I always feel at the end of the book that I know much more than I did previously. And that’s just one book. When exploring the rest they have to offer, you are dipping your toe in different cultures and religions, from different time periods and perspectives. Plus when in public, it’s usually a nice talking piece to anyone just as interested.
Authors like Ray Bradbury and George Orwell are my favorites. With George Orwell and his novel Animal Farm, a beautifully put dystopia, there’s a society in which farm animals take-over their farm, and kick out their abusive owner. They then create their own way of living, as well as their own government, which soon goes awry. Their whole anti-human policy turns to ash as the government, in which only consists of the pigs, sees themselves as all-powerful. They start walking on two legs, wearing human clothes, and they treat the inhabitants of their farm how the recent owner had. To sum it up with the famous last words of the book, “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” So in this particular novel, the story was a metaphor for the lack of equality during the Russian revolution, and the insane amount of rich and self-involved leaders it held. And let me tell you, the entire time I was reading this, I had goosebumps up and down my body. I wanted to highlight and take note of every other line because everything Orwell said was captivating and philosophically true. This is the feeling you get when reading most classics.
With Ray Bradbury, specifically pointing towards his work of Fahrenheit 451, another dystopia in which firemen burned books as reading books was against the law. And the whole reasoning was that when reading books, it opens your mind to new possibilities and expectations, and gives you a reason to think harder. Thinking and wondering make people “lost” and sometimes “sad”, so why read? I mention this book and its storyline because the reasoning for banning books is really the reasoning for reading them. When you open up your understanding of everything to critique, life is so much better. You are able to state clearly your opinion and standing-point on a topic, and you can back it up with a knowledgeable rebuttal.
Reading, in general, is good for you, but wouldn’t you rather create a world in which you put your mind to the test and create an opportunity for growth? Do you and your friend in your head a favor and pick up a classic. It never has and never will hurt to try something new. Although classics are stated as outdated, this can be the most up-and-coming thing you do all year, and your brain will thank you for it later.