You are on page 1of 4

Cover Letter:

For my Brain Pickings piece, I decided to use quotes from the writers whose beliefs were similar
to mine. I wanted to highlight the fact that a book that has been around for awhile is there for a
reason. There is a reason why books like Frankenstein are still being read almost 200 years after
they were published. There is a certain significance that the books have, whether that be insights
to what people were like in the past or the beginning of phenomena, like Frankenstein. I also
wanted to talk about how a books purpose is not to simply be some easy read for someone,
rather a best book should make a reader work for the deeper meaning, to make them think. I tried
my best to imitate Maria Popovas style by incorporating quotes as well as pictures to better
reinforce my writing.

Important characteristics of Best Books

There are many factors that make a book the best. From content and language to
popularity and longevity, what makes a best book is always going to be up to interpretation. Not
only must the book be well written, with layers that allow a reader to gain new insights from
each rereading, but there is also timelessness factor that is the reason books written a long time
ago are still considered bests. Vladimir Nabokov, Julie Beck, and Susan Sontag understand that
these characteristics are vital to best books.
The narrative of a book can influence whether or not it is worth of a best book title by
presenting different perspectives and opinions. If a book has depth and changes the way a reader
thinks about something, even slightly, it has accomplished something. When reading a book for
the first time, one may miss out on things like figurative language that make a book the best. In
Frankenstein, for example, there are allusions to Paradise Lost and the Bible that one might miss

without a closer look. A best book needs to make connections and challenge a reader to
understand them.
There is also something to be said for the longevity of a book. Just because a book has
been popular for a long time, does that mean that it is still a best book? There are valid
arguments for both sides, however the historical and societal relevance of the book is what most
likely holds the answer. There are some books that people can usually get away with not reading
and still be able to make connections whether that be in a class or conversation, however there
are other books, like the Great Gatsby that are still very relevant and would be beneficial to read
in order to have a better understand of certain topics or themes. As time progresses some books
that were once considered timeless may be proved to in fact have an expiration date due to
changing time and public interest, but truly best books confront timeless human issues with a
practical moral, as sontag explains:
Serious fiction writers think about moral problems practically. they tell stories.
they narrate. they evoke our common humanity in narratives with which we can
identify, even though the lives may be remote from our own. They stimulate our
imagination. The stories they tell enlarge and complicate- and, therefore,
improve- our sympathies. They educate our capacity for moral judgment.
The narratives that offer a new perspective on a subject often times is one of those books
that changes the way the reader thinks, but the classics are what teach people timeless lessons.
The Cinderella story, for instance, has been overused to the point where those books are usually
thrown to the wayside without even a chance, labeled as cliche, even though it teaches the
valuable lesson to stay positive. These stories are not without their rightful place in society
though, as Beck explains:

Once certain stories get embedded into the culture, they become master
narratives- blueprints for people to follow when structuring their own stories, for
better or worse.
These cliche stories provide a framework for readers to base their lives and writers to base
their work. Original work can be difficult at times to come up with, which is why often times
writers will reuse plot lines and general ideas, only changing the details. However, there is only
so many times one can read the same thing. In order to write a book with the intention of being a
classic, it would have to offer new ideas for people to one day implement in their own lives. It
may not be possible to write a classic, but if it was, the writer would have to make deeper
connections that make a reader figure out what the meaning is.