Why I enjoy reading the classics

Jocelyn Arroyo-Ariza, News Editor

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink” is the iconic first line of “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith. Similarly, I began writing this opinion piece at a nook of a stairwell after an internet network outage. Wi-Fi has humbled me once again as I ran into the library to catch up with all the work I neglected to do after a long week of midterms. There at that desk, I was surrounded by the works of Mary Shelley, George Eliot and Charles Dickens. A few feet from me were great American writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Allen Ginsberg and Langston Hughes.  

After hours of constant typing in Times New Roman, the brightness of my laptop was hurting my eyes. I looked for refuge in my bookbag for a book I forgot to pack. So, it was back to the sounds of typing and the people who are not supposed to be eating in the library.  

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read. Before I was able to read, I used to make up stories out of pictured dictionaries and coloring books. I couldn’t wait to read all the books that I saw people on the subway carrying. When I was finally taught there was no stopping me, spending countless hours at my local library making sure I did not pick up a book that I had already read. Eventually, I graduated to the adult section of the library, quite quickly impressing my teachers by telling them that I read “Call of the Wild” voluntarily. 

Out of the almost 1,000 books I have read, my favorites have always been the classics. The world of “Alice in Wonderland” both fascinated me and terrified me. I embarked on an adventure to “Narnia” too many times to count, though despite how many times I have tried to be like Jo, reality has told me I am probably a Meg or a Beth. As I grew older, my love of the classics only grew as I gained the knowledge of the different centuries. With so much to read, I was engulfed by the possibilities that a paperback can offer.  

There is nothing like reading a book that has been passed down from generation to generation, stories that prefigure modern society, with an awe or a disgust for the future. There is so much to learn from enclosed pages of authors who are no longer with us, offering us knowledge beyond the graveand guiding us with the lessons that they wrote down years ago. Characters from different times or worlds face the same dilemmas as us, such as miscommunication among friends and the trials and tribulations of identity. These stories have faced the test of time, which makes them all too interesting to collect dust.  

One of my favorite things to do is find references to authors that disclose their influences. It is fun tracing down literary traditions and incorporating them wherever I can. Symbols, motifs and metaphors are so fascinating when you know where they come from.  

Though my friends may consider me a snob for hardly reading any contemporary novels, there is something magical knowing that a novel was conceived with a quill or typewriter. Funnily enough, as the years go by there are more contemporary novels added to the canon of classics. As my reading list expands, I grow wiser knowing that I can always squeeze in one more at a nook of a staircase.  


If you may ask, my favorite book is “The Great Gatsby” – yes, I know, how original.