The term Classic makes me want to argue.
Define classic. Do you mean the musty tomes with weird heightened language I was forced to read in high school because someone deemed it Important 150 years ago but now all the language is arcane and bloated? Do you mean the books hailed by critics and the judges of book awards? Do you mean a book that has sold a lot of copies and is mentioned often in popular culture? Do you mean any book over a certain age that someone (anyone) is still talking about?
I have found reading most “Classic” books frustrating. If it needs a 15-page introduction explaining why it’s considered a classic, chances are it will not be talked about in 50 years. And if there’s no introduction, the reader feels like an idiot for not “getting it.” I think a classic worthy of the distinction should speak for itself.
Regardless of any of the definitions of Classics I’ve mentioned, how do you pick a favorite in such a wide and varying field? There’s brit lit, modern, post-modern, american, poetry.
I guess I’ll stop analyzing and just answer the question: what book do I think will speak of the human condition for hundreds of years to come? To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. My Goodreads review is very succinct in my feelings:
I dare you to read this book and not be changed by it.