What makes a book tick? What keeps readers coming back to a book again and again, thumbing through dog eared pages and inhaling the cloying smell of well-worn paper? What, indeed, makes one want to re-read Anna Karenina, 1984, Midnight’s Children, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, The Great Gatsby, One Hundred Years of Solitude, On the Road, To Kill a Mockingbird, Malgudi Days, Gora, The Jungle Book, Samskara… the list is endless. What gets books into ‘Must Read’ lists? The criteria will often vary, but there are constants that explain what makes a book a treasured experience.
These are books that would be categorized as “lasting literature” that readers would not just read but reread, discovering something new each time, finding in them the sense of wonder and new interpretations, messages and meanings with each reading. These are books that continue to influence readers and writers and help them understand their own writing and the world in general a little more.