A to Z: Great Literature

Last year, a tiny handful of my speech team traveled to the Cities for state speech. We stayed in a hotel with the Adrian speechies where we were blessed with a late night reading of a ridiculous picture book on pants.

This pants book has become a running joke between several of our members. Much to their dismay, nobody can remember the name of the book.

Sadly, some of my very favorite books from my childhood have suffered this same fate. In my mind, they were great books. Fabulous. Everything a fantastic story should be.

Being out of print may say otherwise, but that doesn’t change my childhood mind. Those books were great.

So, what makes literature GREAT? In my mind:

  • Character connection. If I don’t click with the character, there’s no point in reading. But clicking doesn’t mean loving. It simply means that I care enough about the character to invest my time in his/her life.
  • Relevance to my life. Can the story cross the time in which it was written and still matter on a gut level? White Fang, for instance…
  • Some sort of social or moral commentary. Will a book change me, or at least get me thinking? That’s a keystone for great literature.

This might not be the list others use to determine the greatness of novels littering bookstores and classrooms across America, but it works for me. If a story doesn’t move me in some way, it cannot make the Great Literature bookshelf in my mind.

What characteristics must a novel have to make your great literature list? Why?

Curious minds want to know.

Oh  yeah, and the pants book: if you have ever read a book about a dude whose wife made him pants and everyone wanted to touch them because they were so awesome, please pass along the title. They would love to find a copy of this pantalicious story.

P.S. Because I somehow missed E and F: E is for EEP, as in shoot, I missed Friday. And for the fact that as a writer for kids, I often make up words. Some people like them, some people hate them. I personally think they can be fun and give a little character flair.

F is for family and all the freakin’ awesome support they give me. They rule my world. Thanks so much for letting me write while the dust bunnies run free.



11 responses to “A to Z: Great Literature

  1. Great literature should have strong character that evolves from beginning to end. And I know its been said often, but a great is timeless. Regardless of mentions of technology, a great story that reaches into the human spirit is one for the ages. 🙂

  2. I’m much like you. Characters are key for me. I want them to stick with me long, long after I’ve finished the book. I want to enjoy them so much, for them to feel so real to me, that I can reread the book in a year or so and still feel the same way. Also, emotion is big for me. I want a novel to impact me in some way that really digs deep into my heart. 🙂

    • Your last line is beautiful. “I want a novel to impact me in some way that really digs deep into my heart.”

      Those are the kind I love to read, and I hope, the kind I write!

      Thanks for sharing what makes a book great for you.

  3. Great literature to me is something that I can connect to, stands the
    test of time and is written in a creative way.

    A-Z http://penpaperpad.com.

  4. Connecting with characters is a must! If you don’t connect, you aren’t really going to feel anything for them.

    And I feel your pain. I hate remembering certain scenes from books as a kid but not being able to recall what book it is from.

    Konstanz Silverbow
    A-to-Z April Blogging Challenge Co-host

    • Konstanz, nothing is worse! I have a few that I’d love to get my hands on, but so far, no luck. Maybe someday I’ll go to a garage sale or second hand store and there they will be.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Yes, Cat, I totally agree that one has to connect with a character – good or bad and CB, I’m also with you there. It’s the ‘peopleness’ to which we relate. One of my sons was reading a particularly intense section from my (hopefully) soon to be published book and he started punching his one hand into the other. I asked him what the problem was and he said “I want to climb into the book and take out that guy with my bare hands,” I think he ‘connected’ somewhat… 🙂

    • That is so awesome that you got to him on that level! Congrats on both the character connection and the book deal. If you can share the info so we can find a new great author, that would be wonderful. If the ink isn’t quite dry, I understand. Some things just take time!

      Hugs and thanks for sharing your particular connection story!

  6. Thanks for your kind words. The ink is still flowing but the pen is almost, almost empty. 🙂 I follow you so will definitely let you know the progress. I’m new to blogging and have such a lot to learn…

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