Tag Archive | books

What Makes A Book A Classic?

I have a passion for books and now that I have a Facebook feed from Everyman’s Library, Vintage Books and Anchor Books, I’m constantly reminded of all the beautiful books in the world, both old and new.

I particularly enjoy the classics i.e. Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and, with the advent of freely available audio books, I have substantially expanded my “reading” of these treasures.

There are also many cleverly crafted, newer books which brings me to my question, what sets a book apart from all the rest and makes it a classic?

I like these three of Esther Lombardi’s observations:

  • A classic expresses an artistic quality;
  • A classic stands the test of time;
  • A classic has universal appeal.

Wikipedia’s explanation is simply;

“A classic book is a book accepted as being exemplary or noteworthy, either through an imprimatur such as being listed through any of the Western canons or through a reader’s own personal opinion.”

In 1920 an American teacher, Fannie M Clark explored the question and during her research asked her eight grade class. One of the considered answers were “Classics are books your fathers give you and you keep them to give to your children.”

After spending some time on the internet, looking for answers to the question of what makes a book a classic, I have created my own definition – here it is:

A classic book is a book that:

  • Has something meaningful to say;
  • Is beautifully written;
  • Speaks to its reader, and
  • No matter how many times it is re-read,  there is always something new to discover – in the story, in the words or in the sentiment.

‘til next time.

My Home Library

I love books.  But now that I have an e-reader I buy very few hard copies so my real library is diminishing as the library on my e-reader grows.

I no longer have piles of books next to my bed waiting to be read, they are stored on my e-reader which is probably a good thing as I don’t get rid of books which means my storage problem is coming to an end.

The books that I do have though, need  to be sorted so I embarked on this task one rainy afternoon. The perfect weather to spend with my books!  There is something comforting about holding a book in your hands, it’s a feeling you don’t get from a  e-reader.

Maeve Binchy

When my daughter was young, she insisted on displaying her books by size.  Biggest to smallest.  This is, of course, aesthetically pleasing but not very satisfactory when you need to find a special book.   I also know someone who sorts her books by colour!  I found it strange that the books on display always matched her decor so beautifully until I realised that the spines of her books were stiff.  I haven’t the heart to question her on their content as I now firmly believe that she shops for books with a swatch of material to match her lounge colour scheme and hides the battered books she hopefully reads, under her bed or in a cupboard somewhere.

Some Of My Classsics


I  keep the same authors’ books next to each other and, although I have most of Charles Dickens’ books on my e-reader, I still cannot resist buying hard copies from secondhand bookshops.  The covers are rather motley, some  are new editions and some are very old.


I organise my non-fiction books according to genre. I have a special space for gardening books and another for recipe books. I keep my travel books in two separate areas – books I have brought on my travels and books about places I still want to see.

Books, books, books, such beautiful things!