Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In Search of the Timeless Classic

I really don't know what it was that got me thinking about this recently. It might have been me simply surfing the television one day looking for anything worthwhile to watch and stumbled across a movie that I have always loved. No, this wasn't what I would call a classic, but I do think it would be ranked up there in the top of my movie watching list. But what about books?

I am frequently asked in interviews (and I know other editors and agents are asked the same thing) what is your favorite book ever. This is always a tough question to ask, especially from someone who has both undergraduate and graduate work in literature. What I always find myself doing, when answering the question, is really naming two books (and yes, it does change all of the time depending on my mood). One book is always that "go to book" when you simply are looking for something to read. The other is the one that would somehow fit that category of classic. But again, what is a classic?

I personally would have to define a classic as a book that really can stand the test of time. The characters, the theme, the exploration of human emotions - all of these are things that seem to make a book a classic. These books certainly don't need to break the mold and do something no one else has ever done, even though these "classics" often do. They simply need to stand the test of time. These are books that are just as powerful today as when they were first written.

Now, don't get me wrong. I do believe there are a lot of great books out there with outstanding studies of human emotion, themes and great characters, but I wouldn't likely classify these as "a classic." These would simply be GREAT BOOKS!

As I said, there are also those books that are my "go to book." For me, these books are those that I can open up to any page and just start reading. I don't need to read the whole thing, I don't need to read a lot. These are the "feel good" books. For me, these really don't need to be stories that will stand the test of time. Sure, some do, but these are often really personal selections.

So, here is the question for you. Name you favorite "timeless classic." Let's see what we come up with!

1 comment:

  1. LIke you I vary with my moods. I'd have to say The Great Gatsby and Gone With the Wind would be two of my timeless classics. You might be interested to know that in Australia, the senior literature students always end the year with a study of the classics, and the assignment always incorporates 'timeless themes' etc. Their choices all come from the Canon which we know can be problematic, but it is somewhere to start.