mosaic of classic novels

Why You Should Read More Classic Novels

How often do you read classic novels?

A. All the time – I can’t wait for my next one!

B. Maybe once in a while

C. What’s a classic novel?

Which one of those options is your reality?

Classic novels take us through a unique literary experience. They have a richness of culture and historical perspective. At secondary school you might have come across classics like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God and Chike and the River, Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Cyprian Ekwensi’s An African Night’s Entertainment. These books maintain a standard that has stood the test of time.

Here’s what reading them and other classic novels will do for you.

1.  Reading the classics will make you smarter.

Classic novels were written a little differently to the novels that fly about on the Internet these days. They are not difficult per se, but they can feel at times like a really long, winding road with various twists and turns.

Reading them will improve your cognitive abilities.

Here’s how:

  • You’ll find it easier to understand complicated writing
  • Reading long content such as classics increases your attention span
  • You can boost your critical and reasoning skills through the advanced text
  • Your knowledge of history, culture, and human nature, in general, is broadened
  • Reading classic literature can open your mind to new ways of thinking


2.  Your awareness of society will increase.

The more you read classic novels, the more you get to understand the interplay between human character and various social situations around the world.

These books pull you into the personal experiences of the characters. You are able to judge their decisions and witness the weight that situations of society have placed on their shoulders.

As a result, you will become more emotionally intelligent, and a great judge of character. You will also be able to better identify current restrictions in your own society and how they hold you or the people around you back. You will find that the years may change, but human nature hardly changes at all.

3. You will have a deeper knowledge of culture and history.

Nothing exposes us to culture like classic novels.

Wuthering Heights helps us understand the class consciousness in Victorian England. Joys of Motherhood exposes the masculinist tendencies of the Ibo society, as well as the emphatic value placed on children – especially male children. Arrow of God reveals the traditions of precolonial Nigeria. The Tale of Genji opens a window into Japanese consciousness.

Great works of literature cover nearly every period of modern history, giving us a lot of insight into history and different cultures around the globe. Reading any classic novel gives us a peek into the culture of that time, and in a far more engaging way than films. It is almost like a time travel to the past.

4. Improve your language abilities

If you are interested in improving your writing and perhaps vocabulary, classic novels will help you in no small way.

Written by the very best writers in the world, classic literature contains very beautiful language. It will introduce you to various excellent literary styles and good vocabulary. If you want to be a better writer, you can hardly do better than engaging yourself with classic novels.

Ready to start reading? Here are lists of European and African classics.


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