How is a book defined as a classic? Is there a hierarchy of literary fanatics hidden somewhere in an immaculate library making these decisions? Well to put it simply, the answer is no. Time is the most important factor that determines whether a book is classic or will be in the future. If over a period of years a certain book keeps re-appearing in libraries, school classrooms and in the hands of book worms then it is most definitely a classic. Jane Eyre is a classic, The Twilight Saga is not. You can never be too obvious. So here are my top five picks for classic books to read before you die
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
One of my favorites is the romantic novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. This novel is centered on the tumultuous relationship between a poor servant boy, Heathcliff, and his owner’s beautiful daughter, Catherine, set in the haunting moors of Scotland. Issues of class inferiority are acknowledged as is the power of undying love that remains inextinguishable even in death. This book was published in 1847 and reflects the subject matter that was relevant at that time such as the responsibilities of men and women.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Awakening by Kate Chopin was published in 1899. The most common misconception about this novel is that it was banned, but it never was. However, it was heavily censored at the time due to its illicit subject matter which dealt with a woman’s sexual revolution at a time when women did not express such things so overtly. This novel is often said to be Kate Chopin’s legacy since the writer decided never to write again.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Crime and Punishment was written by the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, published in 1866. This novel is not easy to read or comprehend for the average American reader but the way it is written is pure genius. The plot is based on a disturbed young Russian man named Raskolnikov who commits a murder and endures debilitating psychological instability following the incident. The reader truly steps into the mind of the killer and feels his raging emotions.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published in 1925. This famous novel is based on a young man named Nick who moves from the Midwest to Long Island, New York and becomes deeply fascinated with his neighbor’s lavish lifestyle. This novel is set in the Roaring Twenties where people indulged in the luxuries of the booming economy. As Nick becomes more involved in the lives of the rich and famous, his own purpose in life becomes more diminished.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar is a haunting story by the tragic poet Sylvia Plath. This novel was published in 1963 and is a story about a young woman who struggles with the city life in New York and cannot seem to find her place in society. Sylvia Plath herself suffered from mental illness as a young woman and a lot of her writings, including this one, were based on such struggles. Unfortunately she ended her life at the age of thirty succumbing to the mental illness she suffered for so many years.