What’s this? A Top 5 Wednesday post on a Wednesday? Someone check my temperature because I must be ill.
I struggled. Oh boy did I struggle. I can’t predict what my breakfast is going to be tomorrow morning yet alone what books I think are going to be future classics.
What makes a book a ‘classic’ anyway?
Because I am a modern woman I did what any modern woman would do. I Googled.
I must be honest, the answers seemed to be confusing and pretentious. When the word ‘classic’ is chucked into the ring it seems like you need to be a literary scholar to determine what constitutes a classic. Or in my case, to understand what the experts mean by ‘classic!’
I found an article called ‘Italo Calvino’s 14 Criteria for What Makes a Classic‘ which does offer 14 items to define a classic. I found this no less confusing.
I don’t want to take 14 steps to define what makes a book a future classic and instead I went with books that matched either one or two or all of my three incredibly simple criteria:-
- Themes that will stand the test of time – we could pick up this in 100 years and still relate despite any technical, social and environment changes
- Books that make people feel something; fear, awe, sadness, anger etc.
- Something unique that sets it apart from the rest either through the story or the writing or because it has that ‘je ne sais quoi’
That’s it. Simple.
Here we go.
I mention this book a lot and so its no wonder that The Handmaid’s Tale has made it onto my list of future classics. The themes of power, religious control, gender oppression, bodily autonomy, women’s rights and class systems are timeless ones that occur in literature over and over again and I believe they will continue to occur in years to come. This book also gave me feelings. Sad, scared, amazed feelings.
Facts: This was written in 1985 and was nominated for both the Booker Prize and Nebula Award in 1986 and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987. It’s constantly been challenged by the American Library Association and is often appearing on ‘banned’ lists. There is a poor (in my opinion) 1990 movie adaptation and a more recent television series which looks like a faithful adaptation that I am too nervous to watch.
I’ve mentioned The Hunger Games but to be honest all of the trilogy count. I was um, too lazy to look for all the pictures.
Personally I think The Hunger Games trilogy played a strong part in introducing dystopian fiction to the YA audience. I also think it kick-started a surge of YA books featuring female teen protagonists because publishers finally realised that books with a female hero were just as valid as books with a male one.
The overall themes of this trilogy include power (this is common theme in books it seems), class, survival, sacrifice, war and the trauma that occurs as the result of war. We as a species also seem to have a real thing for watching or reading about people fight to the death. We liked it in Roman times, we like it now and we’ll probably like it 100 years in the future too.
Children’s books make for the best classics and I thought hard to pick which one to include. In the end I went with Roald Dahl because everything he writes should be a classic and I firmly believe everything he writes will stand against the sands of time.
I went specifically with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because it’s the one that I think gives the most sense of ‘whimsy’ and for that alone it will last forever. This was written back in 1964 so maybe its already considered a classic in children’s literature but for a book that’s already 54 years old it’s already pretty timeless don’t you think?
This book just makes me and the millions that have read it happy and transports us back to that childlike sense of wonder. That’s why it’s here on my list as a future classic.
Sure, I could have gone with Tolkein and The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit (both most definite future classics) but instead I went with the more modern series of A Song of Ice and Fire.
What I like about this series is that it is medieval fantasy (which I think will always be timeless simply due to the popularity of the setting) but that its a more adult and brutal portrayal of life in those fictional times. The writing is adult – murders, rape, sex – so this is as far from the Shire as you can get but lends itself to a more realistic grounding.
This series is about power (what else?!), family, destiny, class, gender and religion and the impact religion plays on people’s decisions. This will last. It’s like a fake history lesson. With dragons.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – a quirky, strange, uniquely written 1979 British novel that has squished its way into being a quintessential British literary offering to the world and to British pop culture.
It’s here because its a cult classic and like most cult classics they will never, ever, ever go away. I say to this – yay! I wouldn’t want this book to go away, it’s fun and its weird and I love the writing style.
For such an odd little book it sure makes its presence known. On a slightly sad note but one that still remains upbeat when my husband-to-be’s dad died some years ago we buried him with a towel. Why? Because The Hitchhiker’s Guide tells us that a towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. And that’s that.
What do you think of my Top 5 this week? Do you think I deserve a medal for actually posting on a Wednesday? Are you frowning at my ideas of what criteria constitutes a classic? Tell me yours! Give me your love! I am needy!
Look forward to hearing from you!