Some argue that literature, like everything else in the world can become archaic, stale and decadent – that it has an expiry date. But I believe that this is far from true – if there is anything in the world that stands the test of time, without losing its relevance or importance, it’s books. If you’ve been hesitant to pick up a book just because it was written ages ago and is divorced from you in time and space, this article is for you. Here, I enlist why is it important to read books written centuries ago?

Sources of historical information

Ancient books and classics are important sources of information about the past. Indeed, more has been uncovered about the collective human past from archival sources than from any other archeological evidence. Written records include fiction which holds up a mirror to society as well as non fiction notes of the life and times. In either case, they are crucial sources of historical information. This historical information is crucial to understand differences, track progress and to understand how to prevent disasters and continue prosperous traditions.

Why Is It Important To Read Books Written Centuries Ago?
Why Is It Important To Read Books Written Centuries Ago?

Clues to cultural life of the times

Like I said previously, books act like mirrors to society. They show us accurate reflections of ourselves, with the good, the bad and the ugly. This information of the historical past is often valuable because it shows us what it was like to exist back then. What kind of gender roles existed, what kind of economy prospered and what kind of political structures dominated the system are some of the aspects of society ancient books reveal to us. In the process, we learn lessons as to how can our current society can progress.

Storehouses of ancient wisdom

One of the most important reasons for books of any time period to exist is that they record the prevalent philosophies and ways of life. Turning to older periods, whose books record timeless wisdom, can be profound for our current ages. Our lives, marred by social media and wars and other terrible happenings, can find some solace in the wisdoms of bygone eras. Taoism, the Zen philosophy, Sanskrit epics, Aristotelian and Platonic thought are just some examples of ancient wise literary materials that hold relevance today.

Why Is It Important To Read Books Written Centuries Ago?
Why Is It Important To Read Books Written Centuries Ago?

Repositories of language and linguistics

Archaic books certainly have a different style of writing from the one we use today. Thus they track the changes in language and etymology through the year. Archaic books can be a source of new and wonderful words and sentence structures that you may not have seen before. They are perhaps the best means to expand your linguistic horizons and enhance your vocabulary. Not only do they introduce you to new and fascinating worlds but also to the basis of communication in that world. And only literary materials like books can do this.

Maps to development trajectories

Books, when placed in a chronological order, are basically milestones. They record development, growth, evolution and change in the human world. They act as maps, which show us the trajectory of human life. Old books are important because of their comparative relevance to new books. They allow us to assess how far we have come as a collective species. Thus, old books allow us to track our progression as well as regression through time. And hence we can know what we have done right, and where we may have gone wrong.

Why Is It Important To Read Books Written Centuries Ago?
Why Is It Important To Read Books Written Centuries Ago?

Means of escapism

Finally, because archaic books are so far apart from us in time, they are perfect as means of escapism. They allow us to deny, temporarily, our realities and become absorbed in a fictional world which resembles nothing like ours. This is especially important during times like these – with pandemics, wars and psychological illnesses proliferating like never before.

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