“It’s such a classic.”
Those words are thrown around an awful lot amongst avid readers, authors, critics, and those in the publishing industry. Many are left to wonder, though, what really makes a book a true classic? Is it simply that it’s old or written by a well-known author? Or, is there something else to it?
Truth be told, there’s a lot more to it. Classic novels meet certain criteria that earn them the right to be called classic, to be revered by readers and scholars alike, and to be passed down from generation to generation.
What standards must be met, and what books are considered must-read classic novels?
4 Criteria Required to Make a Novel a True Classic
A classic novel is not one that’s simply on a high school required reading list. They are so much more. Here are just four criteria that many books have met to be rendered as truly classic literature.
1. Classic Novels Tend to Have Universal Appeal
Classic novels have universal themes that can be tied to every culture in the world. It doesn’t matter if someone is from a small island in the Pacific or New York City, every person has experienced love, loss, death, hate, and faith of some sort.
Novels that build their stories around these themes will appeal to people around the world, no matter where they’re from or what background they have.
The interesting thing about these types of novels is that they prove just how similar everyone is and how little has changed throughout history as it pertains to a person’s basic needs, desires, and experiences.
2. Classic Novels Are Timeless
A story can be set in the 1800s and be just as poignant now as it was then. Their stories are a good representation of the time period in which the story was written. These stories have longevity and are deemed classics by generation after generation.
Many books are written and forgotten, but there’s no denying that a book like Pride and Prejudice has been enjoyed since it was first published in 1797, and will continue to be a story that is handed down for many years to come.
3. A Classic Draws Inspiration from Other Works
“There’s nothing new under the sun,” so says the Bible book of Ecclesiastes. Every book readers enjoy today – including classic novels – has been influenced by works that came prior.
The inspiration could have come from a fellow contemporary writer, as can be seen in the works of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens. Or, the writer could’ve taken inspiration from a literary work that came decades or even centuries before their time. An example of this would be how Herman Melville took inspiration for Moby Dick from Shakespeare’s tragedies.
As was mentioned, classics have universal appeal, so it’s no wonder that similar themes and ideologies would pass from one story to another.
4. Readers Are Also Inspired by Classic Novels
This is a big one. In order to be a classic, the reader must get something out of the story. It must evoke some sort of response from the reader, whether it’s an emotional response or one of action.
A great book can make someone laugh out loud or burst into tears. It can also move a person to take action to better their life, go after their dreams, or call a loved one they haven’t talked to in a while.
These types of novels can also move a person throughout their life. In fact, most classic novels are considered “favorites” that readers will read multiple times, in some cases doing so on an annual basis.
Not only are these books thoroughly enjoyable, but they also teach valuable lessons. The wonderful thing about classic novels is that a reader will learn one lesson when they first read the book, and then they’ll learn a totally different lesson when they read the book years later. In other words, these books prove to be valuable to a variety of age groups.
Another reason why classic novels inspire is that they are beautiful artistic expressions. The quality of writing, the well thought out story, the multi-dimensional characters – it all works together to create an artistic masterpiece.
Our List of the Top 50 Books Everyone Must Read in Their Lifetime
Choosing which of the many classic novels to start with can be a daunting task. There are so many classics to choose from! Here’s a list of classic novels that readers can find in audiobook form. The list includes some modern classics, as well as some timeless favorites.
- Pride and Prejudice
- The Great Gatsby
- The Hobbit
- The Crucible
- Invisible Man
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Jane Eyre
- Crime and Punishment
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
- Moby Dick
- Mrs. Dalloway
- The Count of Monte Cristo
- David Copperfield
- Little Women
- Call of the Wild
- Gone with the Wind
- The Picture of Dorian Gray
- Grimm’s Fairy Tales
- The Iliad
- Anne of Green Gables
- Romeo and Juliet
- A Wrinkle in Time
- A Room with a View
- Anna Karenina
- Don Quixote
- The Three Musketeers
- The Secret Garden
- The Metamorphosis
- Gulliver’s Travels
- The Wind in the Willows
- Great Expectations
- Wuthering Heights
- The Sound and the Fury
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- Sense and Sensibility
- The Grapes of Wrath
- East of Eden
- The Old Man and the Sea
- The Scarlet Letter
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- A Study in Scarlet
- Vanity Fair
- Les Miserable
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- And Then There Were None
- Atlas Shrugged
Where to Find Top-Selling Classic Novel Audiobooks
Because everyone is so busy these days, it can be difficult for people to read as much as they would like. Thankfully, audiobooks allow readers to multi-task. They can listen to classic novels while doing chores around the house, driving, exercising, or waiting in the doctor’s office.
For a while, most audiobook retailers only had the latest best-sellers for sale on their sites. These days, though, they have everything from the latest Nora Roberts novel to Dracula, the original vampire thriller written in 1897.
Whatever genre, author, or time-period a reader loves to read, there’s a multitude of audiobooks that will fit their needs.
Are you ready to expand your horizons and check out some of the greatest classic novels of all time? Check out our wide variety of thoroughly enjoyable classic novel audiobooks.
This is very interesting and I need to read many of these books.
Thank you Pat, let us know which ones you find enjoyable.