When we call a classic novel a classic, we're usually just trusting what some comparative literature grad student told us once.
Fortunately, Amazon.com came along for the sole purpose of offering us the chance to submit our own personal reviews of each and every book that has ever existed.
Judging by these user-submitted analyses, classic novels are still classic; they all receive high praise.
But is that because we already assumed their classic-ness?
Who really knows.
More importantly though, there are fun things to say after reading reader reviews on a handful of classics (the paperback versions, naturally).
How does the so-called Great American Novel stack up on the Great American Marketplace? In short: ehhh.
While the book garners four stars on Amazon, the substance of many reviews is little more than wannabe F. Scott's trying to write the Great American Book Review. See: "At the core of the book is the elaborate infatuation Jay Gatsby has for Daisy Fay Buchanan, a love story portrayed with both a languid pall and a fatalistic urgency."
My review: It's amazing how fancy language can cover up a multitude of sins — not a single character is likable.
Five stars out of five, folks. That's what a bio about a black, militant, and Muslim man collectively averages amongst reviewers.
But we're still in America, right?
My review: Powerful! Elegant! Transcendental! Two thumbs up. Wait, this isn't a novel?
To me, Henry Miller's once-controversial book seems grander in myth than in reality, but, no, Amazon reviewers disagree; they deem Tropic of Cancer a four-star classic.
There are plenty of negative comments though, including "Finishing Tropic of Cancer is hard because you can stop reading any time you want, and I wanted to stop often."
Look, if you want to stop, stop. No one's holding a gun to your head, pal. And if someone is holding a gun to your head, throw the book in the perp's face and split.
My review: It makes me sad more than, uh, anything else.
If we arranged classic novels in a March Madness-style bracket and pitted them against each other in a tournament of language, The Count of Monte Cristo would be the Cinderella — you know, the unexpected success story.
"The Count is a masterpiece. It delves into every human emotion and contains an immaculate mixture of history, adventure and depth, so much so that any criticisms are rendered obsolete and foolish," writes one reader in one shining moment.
My review: The count is dope, people.
Buried within five paragraphs of five-star minutiae, I found this gem of a quote: "It is something that should be read by everyone at least once in their life, even if they don't end up enjoying it as much as others."
Everyone should read it? Even if they don't enjoy it? Sounds awful totalitarian to me.
My review: Reading it makes me feel highbrow and sophisticated — until it became all too real (jk, NSA!).
I mean, come one, I couldn't resist.
The ever-popular King James Version earned a four-star average from 58 presumably saved souls who just had to fight the good fight by submitting an Amazon review.
Not everyone is entirely pleased. One three-star reader titled his review "Great Content ! - Poor Construction )-:"
And he goes on to write, "... the paperback binding is weak. The entire Gospel of Luke has liberated from the binding. I have glued it back several times. Each time a few more pages come loose."
There's a punchline here. Fill it in for yourself.
My review: It's amazing how fancy language — and Christ crucified — can cover up a multitude of sins. Like, actual sins.