Jamie at Self Made Scholar offers this great list of ten ways reading the Great Books or great literature can make our lives better. She offers the following benefits that reading great literature brings to our lives and how these books can have a real impact on who we are and how we think.
1. Understand what shapes your thoughts and beliefs. Social norms change and develop throughout the centuries. Our mores today were more than likely shaped by great thinkers of previous generations.
2. Let a little genius rub off on you. Remember you are known by the company you keep.
3. Read like an Ivy League grad who tend to receive a more classical education than those in public institutions.
4. Escape from the narrow box of specialization. “In order to truly thrive in any field, people need a broad understanding of the world and how it works.”
5. Learn from past mistakes. As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
6. Improve your ability to comprehend. Jamie assures us that we will become more confident readers if we will persevere. Although many of the great books take work to press through, once one has gotten through a few of the more challenging books, we’re assured that it will be easier to comprehend all kinds of works.
7. Be truly human. “You can forget all the blogs, self-help books, and magazine articles that tell you how to improve your life. The great books are the master course in self-development.”
8. Find your own answers to life’s big questions. See how mankind has wrestled with the four meta-questions of life over the centuries–origin, purpose, morality, and destiny.*
9. Develop a spirit of inquiry by fostering our natural curiosity and desire to learn even more about the world.
10. Join in the “great conversation” that spans mortal time and space.
* By the way, I have found only Christianity adequate to satisfactorily answer these four eternal questions of life.