1. They are free
The old classics are usually free or deeply discounted at used book stores, book fairs or thrift stores. There are many ways to go about finding these free books: The first obvious place would be your local library, which I think is the most underrated institution of our time. There are some lovely “free bookstores” online such as Project Gutenberg and Bartleby, which provide free e-books, and Librivox, a website providing free audio books.
2. They show a different way of life from another time
Older books are valuable because they show life from another time. Many books are stories or myths from the past, stemming from titles like Beowulf and To Kill a Mockingbird. Everyone knows about these stories. Each book has a tale to tell from that point in history, animated in the color of your imagination. In this sense, reading an old book is almost like visiting a highly interpretative museum.
3. They are for everybody
Old books do not discriminate against age. Some of the best stories of all time were stories for children, such as anything written by the Brother’s Grimm or Beatrix Potter. Pretty much any movie produced by Disney (The Little Mermaid, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan) has probably come from a really awesome kid’s book. Even The Hobbit was initially written for children. What’s great is that you don’t have to be a child to enjoy these books as an adult. Pick up The Princess and the Pea or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and tell me that there isn’t a moral you can’t learn from those story.
4. They provide context
Classics can give you a new perspective on an old idea. Reading an old book helps you understand references and conversations, no matter how high-brow or low-brow they are. In fact, old books can provide a huge sense of inspiration, and you don’t necessarily have to be a writer to be inspired. Filmmakers, costume designers and academics rely on classic novels to learn, understand, re-create a story, or prove a point.