If you ever had to read A Tale of Two Cities at a young age, you probably felt like I did—a little overwhelmed and not exactly in love. I never thought I would willingly pick it up again. As a senior English major, however, I felt I had to give the popular classic one more shot, and I was pleasantly surprised when I did.

My second reading has been so enjoyable because I actually understand what is happening. Dickens is famous for being a verbose writer, and enjoying his work today requires skills that I lacked at the age of fifteen. Now, however, I have a much larger vocabulary and can better understand Dickens’s once-baffling diction.

I also favor the story more now because years of studying literature have given me the confidence to be critical of a novel’s characters. I now have more faith in my literary judgments, and I’m not afraid to admit that I dislike a character from an esteemed “classic.” Knowing that I don’t need to like the characters allows me to form my own opinions about them—without the fear of being wrong.

As I begin the final book of the novel, I realize that reading A Tale of Two Cities in high school might have been “the worst of times,” but reading it again now is absolutely “the best of times.”