Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Literary Blog Hop

A weekly meme hosted by The Blue Bookcase.

This week's topic is:

What makes a contemporary novel a classic?  Discuss a book which you think fits the category of ‘modern classics’ and explain why.

This is an interesting topic up for debate.  By definition, a classic should be from a generation that is no longer alive but resonates with the current generations.  How can that happen if the book is only a few decades old or younger?  But it happens with all products of culture:  "this is classic."  So the definition has changed.  Some books have a treasured quality that allows readers to foresee it as being a classic, usually because they deal with subject matter never written about before (a difficult feat to muster in the 21st century) or writes about subject matter in a rejuvanating way.

In my humble opinion, a modern classic would be any book written anywhere from the last half century up to the last 20 years.  So in 2010, a modern classic would be written between 1961 and 1991.  There are countless titles, I wouldn't know where to begin naming just one.  To give you an idea, these are some titles I categorized under Modern Classics in my TBR list, and this is by no means exhaustive:

The Godfather- Mario Puzo (1969)
Gravity’s Rainbow- Thomas Pynchon (1973)
Interview With the Vampire- Anne Rice (1976)
Requiem For a Dream- Hubert Selby (1978)
Unbearable Lightness of Being- Milan Kundera (1984)
The Remains of the Day- Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
American Psycho- Bret Easton Ellis (1991)--this would be the baby of the bunch :)

Here were some titles that I considered MCs, but are a bit premature:
Schindler’s List- Thomas Keneally (1993)--this could be a strong exception
The Shipping News- E. Annie Proulx (1993) could this
Trainspotting- Irvine Welsh (1993)
The Reader- Bernard Schlink (1995)
Infinite Jest- David Foster Wallace (1996)
The Perfect Storm- Sebastian Junger (1997)
Guns, Germs & Steel- Jared Diamond (1997)

...and some others that aren't quite close enough but may turn out to be MCs:
Life of Pi- Yann Martel (2001)
Love & Other Impossible Pursuits- Ayelet Waldman (2006)


  1. Hmmm ... Guns, Germs & Dteel had an interesting premise, but I can't really foresee it becoming a classic. Infinite Jest, however, I can definitely see.

    Thanks for participating!

  2. Definitely agree with The Unbearable Lightness of Being! I'd add Never Let Me Go to your list. I really want to read The Remains of the Day!

  3. Gravity's Rainbow is my best bet for a post WWII novel to be still read in the 22nd century-I enjoyed reading your list a lot

  4. I agree that what really makes something a classic is different generations agreeing on the quality or relevance of a book. I'm hoping that Life of Pi doesn't make it, but it's looking like I'll be disappointed. :)

  5. I really agree with your timing here - I'd say that the modern classic is about 50 years old. I was thinking of writers like George Orwell, for instance. But as someone commented on my site, sometimes it only takes a movie to turn a book that's disappeared into a modern classic, and in that respect we might be surprised by what we retain in years to come. The lists you post are great.

  6. I think the books we try to identify as classics with a recent publishing date are very iffy.

    Here are my thoughts:

  7. I agree with Remains of the Day in a way. On the other hand, there is no way that we can say what people will be reading in say 100 years time. I think it's very hard to predict what will be a classic. At the least we can say that some of the old classics weren't all that important in their time. So, our list doesn't need to exclude less famous books. But otherwise? I really don't know.

  8. Oh, The Shipping News. I'd forgotten about that one. Great book.

  9. Gravity’s Rainbow- Thomas Pynchon, Unbearable Lightness of Being- Milan Kundera, The Remains of the Day- Kazuo Ishiguro, all fantastic choices & then Trainspotting- Irvine Welsh inspired. Enjoyed your selection thanks,

  10. Good list of books you have there. I agree with you except I gave modern classics a 30 year time frame, instead of 20. Although, American Psycho will be a classic in my opinion!

    I think I am the only person in the world who hated Life of Pi.

  11. Thumbs up to Unbearable Lightness of Being. Certainly a contender to become a classic.