Replying to myself instead of each one individually...
I agree with most of your points, the classics do generally contain intriguing story lines, are thought provoking, etc. I was commenting mostly on the style in which they are written. I love to read, and enjoy many different genres. But a lot of the books that are labeled as classics are very difficult reads. Most of them, if I were not forced in some way to read them from beginning to end, I would have put them down after the first few chapters and never picked them up again. Dickens in particular has wonderful multi-leveled plots, but the style in which it he writes is simply intolerable to me.
As for the one who compared classic novels to Britney Spears... please. We all know she is the crowning singer of our time. /sarcasm
That whole bit was just something I've been toying with in my mind lately. Classics are supposed to be those books that withstand the test of time, those whose themes and ideas are still valid and intriguing decades after they had been written. Granted, that's true of most of the books I mention (no matter how painful to read). However, I simply wonder what percentage of total sales of those books are because students are required to read them for their schooling. Would they still be considered classics without those sales? Clearly, /. is not the place to ask these sorts of questions since most of us are the types who enjoy a good read, and many of us would pick those up and read them simply for the sake of having done so. But the general populace? Especially the general USA populace? I doubt many would pick up Moby Dick to read one rainy evening. I just wonder how the landscape of classics would change if students were allowed to choose the books they read for their schooling (of course only allowing books on the same reading level, of suitable subject matter, etc) instead of being forced to read the same classics year after year.