Is there a "universal" book?
March 14, 2007 1:41 PM Subscribe
Which book would you consider a "universal" book?
posted by Jaybo to media & arts (57 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
As a new librarian who formerly worked in book publishing, I am well aware that there are hundreds of thousands of books published each year. Of course, some become bestsellers but many are never heard from again.
This led me to wonder which books (if any) could be considered "universal" books (for example, if you wanted to do a library display about these transcendent books.)
This is the criteria I came up with:
- a book that's likely to have been read by English-speaking readers anywhere in the world (and also widely in translation)
- people will have read it across multiple generations without it going in and out of fashion
- it's *not* a book that people widely own but often don't read thoroughly (ie. The Bible, A Brief History of Time)
- it's *not* a story that people know because it's part of our culture but that the majority might not have read in book form (fables, "A Christmas Carol")
- doesn't matter if its highbrow (Hamlet) or lowbrow (Stephen King), fiction or non-fiction (or any genre for that matter)
Thanks in advance for your suggestions!