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The Norseman

The Norseman

Compelling, creative classics reflect current culture

A man who was wrongfully imprisoned escapes, seeking revenge and finding redemption. A woman discovers a horrible secret about her would-be lover. A boy struggles with a gang of thieves on his journey to discover his identity. 

Classic books have a bad reputation for being long, boring, and irrelevant. This may be true for some old, dusty books stowed away in the dark corners of libraries. However, many classics are the opposite of the stereotype – they are creative, interesting, relevant today, and should continue to be read.

The more classics someone reads, the easier the next one will be. This will help in school with the assigned books to read, study, and discuss. Getting used to the advanced vocabulary helps students understand the story and its plot. One of the first classics I read, Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, I didn’t understand half of what the characters were saying or doing. Many classics later, I reread that first one. I was surprised to find that it now made perfect sense to me! Reading classics will give a better comprehension of assigned books for school.

Reading classics increases vocabulary in a general sense as well. Because of all the books I’ve read, vocabulary has been easy for me. These books were written when people used words that are now considered old-fashioned or even obsolete. Some of these words appear on vocabulary lists, and being familiar with them from classics make studying much easier. However, few books written today have the same level of vocabulary. These modern books could still help the reader learn new words, but not to the extent a classic could.

Classics have beautiful language and can teach readers about times gone by. They offer perspectives from the past and give a better understanding of historical events and time periods. The stories have meaning and lessons that can teach readers. A book set in a historical time period may not teach as many facts as a history lesson, but it can offer the reader a glimpse into what it was like to live during that time while being entertaining. Historical fiction isn’t the same as classics written in that time period. While many books, no matter the era, have beautiful, creative language, nothing can match the elegance of old-fashioned writing.

Also, anyone who makes it through a classic book earns instant bragging rights. People respect those who are able to get through books thicker than ones they’re willing to read. It takes intelligence, willpower, and self control that they don’t have. Once someone has read some classics, they have the right to be proud.

In turn, reading classics can boost self esteem. If people can brag about their achievements to others, why not brag to themselves? If someone is struggling with a homework assignment, they should remember that lengthy, heavy book they finished and realize the difficult assignment can be conquered as well. No modern books have the same stigma as classic books. Thus, no modern books offer the same feeling of success and accomplishment that classics can give.

Classics, though old, are still relevant today. Because of the historical context at the time they were written, modern readers may not agree with everything put forth in these books. Despite this, classics can be highly applicable to people living now. Do you have or want to have a bright social life? Read Gone with the Wind, especially the first half. Are you in a relationship, or do you want to find love? Read Romeo and Juliet. Do you love gardening or being outdoors? Read The Secret Garden. Most books are applicable to the reader in some way, but classics can be applied in different ways that are less obvious to a modern audience and can connect them with the past.

One of my favorite classics is A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. It tells the stories of some characters during the turmoil of the French Revolution. I love this book for many reasons. I can sympathize with both sides of the conflict described; I pity the peasants and want a better life for them, but many aristocrats were also treated cruelly during the Reign of Terror. The individual characters are well-written and sympathetic. I care enough that I cry at the bittersweet – mostly bitter – ending. This book has themes of love, sacrifice, and death and is beautifully and creatively written. Throughout the book, there is a wonderful use of foreshadowing, a literary device I love. There are several character foils and constant comparisons between the rich and the poor. A Tale of Two Cities teaches about the French Revolution while pulling the reader into the story.

These books are considered classics for a reason. They are relevant today with applicable lessons and beautiful language. From The Count of Monte Cristo to Jane Eyre to Oliver Twist, people should read more classics. Read one of these books and discover for yourself the beauty of the classics.

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About the Contributor
Samantha Lamb
Samantha Lamb, Staff Writer
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