How to Read More Classics in 2020

How To Read More Classics

Is one of your bookish New Year’s resolutions to start reading more classic literature? Or do you always think you’d like to read more classics but just…never get around to it? Here are some tips to get you motivated and finding classics you’ll love!

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Pick a Genre You Like

When people talk about “classics,” they often seem to be referring either to Shakespeare (16th century drama) or Victorian literature. References to books about “boring old people” and novels written in “incomprehensible, old-timey language” abound with readers who don’t consider themselves fan of classics. However, classics come in literally every genre and have been written in nearly every time period. If you want modern, simpler language, you can try modern classics like Of Mice and Men or To Kill a Mockingbird. If you like genre fiction, you can try science fiction classics like War of the Worlds or fantasy classics like The Lord of the Rings. Whatever kinds of books you normally like, there’s probably something for you in classic literature.


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Pick a Classic Related to a Book You Already Like

There are many contemporary novels based on or inspired by classics, so if you like any of those, you just might like the original story! For example, if you like Roseblood by A.G. Howard, it might be time to read The Phantom of the Opera! Or if you generally like romances or stories about women finding their way, you might like Jane Eyre!

We have a couple of posts recommending classics based on young adult or middle grade books you’ve already read:

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Start with Something Short

The word “classic” can often conjure up images of heavy tomes like War and Peace, but there is a large selection of classics that are actually quick reads. If you’re not sure how committed you are to reading something lengthy, check out my list of classic books that are under 200 pages.

20 Short Classics
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Work a Small Excerpt into Your Daily Schedule

You can also work classics into your schedule in small chunks. You can listen to an audiobook while cleaning or on your way to work. You can commit to just reading 10 pages a day. Or you can sign up for a literary service that will send a short excerpt to your email each day, about a 5-10 min. commitment to read a classic in a month or so! You can read more about why I like using DailyLit to get book excerpts sent to my email here, but there are a few other websites that offer similar services.

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Find Other Readers Excited about Classics

Reading classics is more interesting when you find other readers who love them–and there happen to be a ton of them in our bookish community! Finding someone passionate about a book is also a good way to find things to appreciate about it, even if you didn’t initially love it yourself. I experience this a lot in school, where class conversations helped me see some interesting things in books I initially thought were pretty boring. So if you’re interested in reading a particular classic, see if you can find someone else who read it and loved it and can tell you why!

Read my post on how I fell in love with reading because of classics (those “old, boring” books!) here.

I Fell in Love with Reading Because of Old Books

Do you read classics? Have you been meaning to read more?


38 thoughts on “How to Read More Classics in 2020

  1. transkeimeg says:

    A fantastic post! I always try to read a few classics every year and am so glad more people are doing it too. There are some amazing books out there!


  2. Peachy says:

    Classics are actually my favorite kind of reading, but I still loved reading this post, and I think they’re such great suggestions so more people can discover and learn to love classics.


  3. Mina @Stacked says:

    I love this post! As I spent most of my late teens and early twenties reading almost nothing but classics I find it irritating that people think it’s “old people literature”. Thanks for sharing your love for them


  4. alilovesbooks says:

    Great post and some great tips. I try to read some classics each year but have to confess the shiny new book tends to be more appealing. What does tend to work best for me is audio books. If you find a great narrator it makes it much more enjoyable.

    This year I’m thinking about attempting War and Peace. There’s a Goodreads group that do year long buddy reads of a classic chunkster and that’s this year’s pick. We’ll see, I’m generally not a fan of really big books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Same. I love classics, but I also have so many new books I’m excited about. It’s hard to read them all! I also feel as if I’ve read most of the “well-known” classics, so sometimes I’m just left looking for ones that are more obscure. I have NOT read War and Peace yet, however. I always mean to!


  5. ashley says:

    I love reading classic literature, there are a few I would like to get through this year. I also feel that classic literature is the foundation for all literature and is sometimes unappreciated.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Bree says:

    These are such great tips! I’m participating in the Get Sh*t Done Readathon and one of the prompts is to read a classic. I was going to start with Jane Eyre because I love the story so much, but the book is so intimidating with how long it is.


  7. CHARIS RAE @ says:

    What an amazing post! This was so helpful. Last year, I wanted to read several classics, but I never got around to it. (My reading life in general was terrible.) I did re-read To Kill a Mockingbird and read 1984, Animal Farm, and Fahrenheit 451, which I loved. This year I’m starting with Brave New World since I’ve been wanting to read it for awhile! 🙂


  8. Mei-Mei says:

    I have definitely been trying to read more classics over the last few years. I feel like there were a few important things I missed in high school/uni. I’ve been reading through PBS’s Great American Read list, where they surveyed Americans on their favorite books to compile a top 100 list.


  9. Grab the Lapels says:

    I bought Brothers Karamazov years ago when a Russian lady told me I had to read it. It’s this great translation, from what I’ve been told, however I don’t seem too motivated to get around to it. I’d love to have someone read a chapter or two per week with me. If anyone in this thread is interested, please let me know!


  10. Joany says:

    These are all great tips! I love reading classics but struggled to get into them when I decided I wanted to read more of them. What really helped me was to begin with classic childrens books. Nowadays I try to read about four to six classics each year.


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I love so many children’s classics! I think that’s a good way to get into them. And just letting yourself…not like every classic. I would say I like classics in general, but there are certainly some I didn’t enjoy, just as I don’t enjoy every YA fantasy I read or whatever.


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I wonder how much I should blame educational systems. I KNOW we did a “survey” of classics in high school and read excerpts starting with Beowulf, but I think I didn’t really get the idea of different time periods and “trends” in literature until I took college classes and spend weeks reading JUST Middle English texts or JUST nineteenth century novels. So the fact that people seem to think “classics” mean Victorian novels is weird to me but also…not. Maybe I would sort of think that too if I hadn’t been an English major.


      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        Ah yes that’s a good point! I feel like it’d be helpful if there was an overview in high school. Then again, from a devil’s advocate point of view, I think I was at least somewhat aware of different time periods and genres in high school (and somewhat even in primary school) even if I didn’t have as good of an overview


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