We’ve spoke here a lot about the idea of a classic. What makes a book a classic? We most recently revisited this topic in early April here, and we have also spoken to this question in 2018 here, and, if you take a look at the comments, you will quickly see that many of us have also discussed this idea frequently on our own blogs, as you can see here, here, and here.
The definitions offered seem to focus on artistic quality and meaning, as well as some element of timelessness. Ruth at A Great Book Study shared a quote that seemed to resonate with many of us: “A classic brings you face to face with greatness.” Jillian writes, “A classic addresses the topic of the human condition in a MAKE YOU THINK AND BREAK YOUR BRAIN kind of way,” and that seems to be part of it, too. Anne Bennett reminds us of the Italo Calvino quote: “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”
What, then, is a nonfiction classic? What nonfiction books would you consider classics? Do you have more fiction or more nonfiction on your list of classics? Which (nonfiction or fiction) is more timeless? Does one or the other have more literary quality?
After two years of thought and research, Robert McCrum posted his list, The 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time in The Guardian. He also reflected on his thought process in creating the list here. Of course, there are many, many other lists of nonfiction classics, like the Modern Library list and the list created from an algorithm of 128 “best of” book lists at The Greatest Books.
I ask these questions as a way of having you take a look at your list in preparation for Nonfiction November. Julie at JulzReads posted on Friday, October 2 sharing details about Nonfiction November. Perhaps you can find a book or two from your Classics Club list to read next month with the group. If not, maybe you can add a classic nonfiction book or two to your list.
What books would you consider to be nonfiction classics?