Skip to main content

What Makes a Classic Novel

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Hi everyone! My name is MJ and I'm a 20-year-old girl just trying to figure out life like most, if not all, of you.

If you're reading this article that means you're here for some answers. Now, just a disclaimer, this entire article is what I've gathered in my short yet seemingly drawn out 19 years of life as a book worm.

I read books like most people breathe - effortlessly and all the time. Books and more specifically classic novels have been my passion for as long as I can remember. I grew up with friends who loved to read as well and I think thats how my hobby grew into a lifelong passion. I can always remember discussing books at our desks at recess in middle school and making plans to see the movie version at the mall movie theater that Saturday (a core memory that I will always cherish). As we entered high school and our the pace of our lives seemed to pick up my friends one by one grew into other hobbies. My love for books was soon replaced with sports, clubs, and boys. Still I read the occasional book in English that kept that spark alive through regimented reading that I secretly enjoyed. Novels didn't really enter back into my life until I went to college and I learned that I could turn one of my favorite things into a career as an English teacher.

Now that I'm done rambling the question of "What makes a classic novel?" is still up in the air. This question popped into my head while watching an episode of Dawson's Creek (S3:Ep.10) where one of the main characters is obliterated by cocky college kids in an English 101 course when discussing her favorite novel "Little Women". It broke my heart hearing these paid actors tear a part such an amazing book that I personally hold close to my heart.

I pride myself in collecting classics and it boggles me that I've never pondered this question before. I think this question (depending on the person) can have a deep, philosophical, confusing answer or a short and sweet one. You can determine which category mine falls under in a moment.

To me, a classic novel is a book that you relate to as well as feel distant from in equal proportions. Let me explain this confusing answer for those who aren't telepathic.

Scroll to Continue

I can always find ways I relate to a character or a plot in some degree. I picture myself in this time period, in this persons shoes going through the currents of life. I ultimately feel connected to these people and their stories. If you're an avid reader you probably picture them as real humans in a distant land separate from our own living this story as you read it. I feel like I am a part of their lives watching their stories play out. That part of my statement may be clear to most with the "feeling distant" section making you question if this article is even worth a read, but let me put those worries to rest.

As I said, I often relate to characters or their stories, but I also feel a disconnect most of the time. There will always be characters that you can't wrap your head around. Characters or storylines that challenge your way of thinking. They confuse you beyond compare to the point where you have to read a section 10 times to figure out what they are thinking. Without being challenged how will you take anything away from what you're reading? Learning along with these characters is how you grow not only as a reader, but as a person.

These two aspects of literature make a novel a classic in my book (yes I did throw a dad joke in). Reading is meant to relate to who you are while open your eyes to new prospectives. Any novel that the greats deem as classics have challenged me greatly and made me progress in many ways. I learned that I'm not alone in what I go through, that there are people like me out there with similar ways of thinking and that I'm going to be ok in the end. Simultaneously, I learned that life doesn't give you the answers written clearly on a post-it note. We have to question everything and move towards the bigger picture even when we don't quite know what that means. We have to look deeper into our problems and solve them from the inside out.

I'm very interested to know what makes a novel a classic in your eyes, so please feel free to comment. I'd also love to know some of your favorite books and why.

With Tons of Love,


© 2022 MJ

Related Articles