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How To Dive Into Classics From An English Major Who Feels Left Behind

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

Ever wondered about the romanticism of those classics people recommend on TikTok but hate the medieval language? Or did you want to read Pride and Prejudice after seeing the Barbie movie and relating to “Depression Barbie” but couldn’t get past the first chapter? You’re not alone! Let’s dive in.

You might be familiar with “classics” like Frankenstein, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, The Phantom of the Opera, or The Great Gatsby. If you recognize these titles you may have read them for school, or watched the movie (which is also great). These titles are renowned for their aesthetics and have been broken down by pop culture, but do you personally feel like you understand them? Did you have time to appreciate the figurative language, the themes, how this might have affected people who lived in the period it was published, and how this has built BookTok or your favorite celeb’s Goodreads list? Maybe not. That’s okay, it’s never that serious. Let me tell you though, as an English major I try to enter with this mindset (more like HAVE to), but as someone who also enjoys books like Twilight or Six of Crows, I didn’t think I could dive into Classics. They seemed tough. Not just in the hundreds of pages describing a tree or dining room table, but because of the dialect being used. However, I overcame the “Classics Scaries” and here’s how you can too.

Find A book that interests you

You don’t have to start with the thickest or the most popular book your English professor recommends. You can start anywhere. Explore different periods or a stranger’s Goodreads recommendation list. By diversifying your taste and giving yourself options, you’ll be able to enjoy the book more. If you like the author or genre you choose, you’ll have a baseline for what to read next or what to avoid like the plague. Also, you don’t have to start with something by Plato or Shakespeare. There are plenty of modern classics that have people on their toes like The Secret History by Donna Tartt or The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Incorporate your learning style

If you’re a visual person, annotations will be your best friend. You don’t have to be rhetorical in the slightest. These are for you to help process what you read, make comments, or highlight/underline things that resonate with you. My annotations have varied from writing reflections on the bottom of pages to writing “Slay” every other paragraph. If you’re a reader who tries to skip over things or is someone who reads fast like me, this can also help you slow down and comprehend what you’re reading. Go wild, these are for you and they help you engage with the text.

If you’re an oratory learner, you can listen to the audiobook while you read along with the narrator. There are many free audiobooks available on YouTube and some come free with certain Kindle purchases. If you know you won’t read the book, you can buy the audio version. Replacing your morning or nighttime screen time by listening to an audiobook can help you start or end your day right. Tired of your workout playlist and want something new? Audiobook. On your hotgirl walk and want some noise? Audiobook. Driving back from class and wanting to kill two birds with one stone? Audiobook!

Do you feel that neither of these work for you and you’re more of a “hands-on” or social person? Girl, join a book club. Or, start one! If I hadn’t read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte with a group, I would have died. Some things in classics you need to gossip or rage about. Every few minutes reading with my group, I’d have to ask about dialogue if I didn’t understand it or laugh at a witty comment with them. It gave me great memories!

judge a book by its cover

If you just moved into a dorm or new apartment, or need something to fill some office space- boom, classics. Some books in the classics selection have thousands of covers for every reader. I once saw a Tim Burton-inspired cover for Emma by Jane Austen (I have 3 different copies of Emma btw). This is also fun retail therapy. Pretty covers make me happy and I’ll buy a copy of a book with a different cover even if I already own it. This niche is so specific but I’m not ashamed to say I love judging books by their cover, it helps me read them and I hope it helps you too.


Many classics are perfect for different seasons and that means you can set a mood while you read. In the fall you could choose to read Dracula, Frankenstein, Dantes’s Inferno, The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and so many more. Light a candle, and put on a spooky or classical music playlist. Regardless of the season, make your favorite coffee or tea to go along with it, and choose your favorite spot inside or outside to get cozy.

Do whatever lets you dive in!

Abygail Pulido is a 2nd year at the University of Texas at Austin honing her craft for writing and pursuing her love for reading with a double major in English and Rhetorical Writing, she is also pursuing a certificate in Creative Writing. She is currently interning at the Harry Ransom Center in Visual Materials where she is learning about the curation process of exhibits and helping select class material. Abby's goal for her articles is to make academic and political topics digestable and fun to read. She loves Her Campus at Texas because its helped her to develop a voice and gain a connection with wonderful and diverse writers.