There are few things that can make you laugh, cry, or even lie in bed wondering how to move on with your life like a great book can. To honor all of the great books that have been written every year, the first week in October is known as Great Books Week.
While there is very little information out there about the history of Great Books Week, we are still able to appreciate its celebration of timeless masterpieces. Some of these masterpieces, such as Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, can be found on the official Great Books Website (posted below), along with what year they were chosen as a great book. What, though, makes a book a great book? Are there actual rules and regulations, or does the person who reads it determine if a book is great?
Believe it or not, the definition of a “great” or “classic” book is often a hotly debated topic. Though the experts may not agree on every detail, according to AboutEducation.com there are a few universal qualities that can help determine if a book is classic or not, such as:
- A classic usually expresses some artistic quality--an expression of life, truth, and beauty.
- A classic stands the test of time. The work is usually considered to be a representation of the period in which it was written; and the work merits lasting recognition. In other words, if the book was published in the recent past, the work is not a classic.
- A classic has a certain universal appeal. Great works of literature touch us to our very core beings--partly because they integrate themes that are understood by readers from a wide range of backgrounds and levels of experience. Themes of love, hate, death, life, and faith touch upon some of our most basic emotional responses.
For further reading, please check out these resources on the subject:
"What Literature Teaches Us about Emotion." Review of Contemporary Philosophy 10 (2011): 256+. Academic OneFile. Web. 6 Oct. 2014.
Mar, Raymond A., et al. "Emotion And Narrative Fiction: Interactive Influences Before, During, And After Reading." Cognition & Emotion 25.5 (2011): 818-833. Business Source Premier. Web. 6 Oct. 2014.
Stefán, Snævarr. Metaphors, Narratives, Emotions : Their Interplay And Impact. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 6 Oct. 2014.