There are books that are considered classics within specific genres, such as classic science fiction books, classic gothic horror novels and classic romance novels. There are classics that distill the voices of certain times and places, such as books from Lost Generation writers or from the Harlem Renaissance.
Classic books also have the tendency to become cultural touchstones—everyone knows what it means to tilt at windmills; to chase a white whale; to ask “to be or not to be” (and if you don’t; it’s high time you cross these classic books off your TBR). They’ve also been turned into iconic films, sparked some of the most hated characters known to man, and invented fantastic places we can only dream of visiting.
While many books that we consider classics were written long ago, the best ones are truly timeless, telling tales that resonate with people around the world and across generations. If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, it's time to see for yourself.
Read an essay from Alice Walker’s book, Living by the Word.
By Alice Walker
Ms. Walker answers readers' questions about her most famous work.
Heartfelt moments and witty comebacks await.
Read an excerpt from Jack London's classic adventure novel.
From Melville to Didion, these first sentences created lasting and notable impressions.
Who knew a short story could stir up so much rage?