Every reader uses his or her own definition of literature. When used in this way, the term can be used to mean the newest Goosebumps book, the last issue of People Magazine, or the classics of the past. However, make on slight change to this phrase, and you change the books defined by it immensely. When the term Literature is used, a reader will often think of dusty classics, or the writers of the past. However, Literature is much more than these limited groups. Any piece of work that is to be considered must satisfy three requirements. It must be the result of a concentrated effort, be understandable by the audience for who it is written and involve the reader in the writing. If any of these three properties are not met, it should not be classified as Literature.
Any piece of writing that is to be considered Literature must be a result of a concentrated effort. Writing that is thrown together in a weekend overnight can not be considered Literature. As Mazer says in Big Books, Sex, and the Classics, "Writing, I had to learn, was a process (6)." Writers who consider writing to be an activity that can be completed in one sitting are invariably bad writers. Writers who consider their work to be a piece of perfection the first time they write it have not looked closely enough to find the errors. This is an easier task for some writers than others. For those who wrote books as serials that were printed in magazines, this is never-ending task. To fit in the space allotted for a specific article, authors must trim, reduce, change, and redesign entire sections of their books. This is the case with Charles Dickensís novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Most books of the period were printed as serials in magazines, and this piece of work was no exception.
Literature is not worth writing unless the audience for which it is written will understand it. In a piece that is so convoluted that it can not be comprehended without massive analysis, the readers lose interest. No reader is forced to continue reading a book, and in a book that can not be understood, a reader will not hesitate to stop. Some works that are among the curriculum in schools would seem to many not to satisfy this requirement. However, by qualifying the statement in saying that the audience it was written for must understand it, books such as A Tale of Two Cities can be included. Although the language in such books seems arcane now, it was merely the way of speech and writing at the time period.
When deciding whether or not a piece of writing is Literature, a third requirement is to involve the reader. Despite Nabokovís opinion as stated in "Good Readers and Writers" that a reader should not "identify himself or herself with the hero or heroine (993)." If a reader relates to the hero or heroine of the story, it indicates that the story is written in such a form that the reader maintains interest. If a reader does not ever finish a book, he or she know can not it is a piece of Literature, as opposed to some trash they could pick up for a dollar at the corner bookstore.