Monday, March 31, 2014

To Count as a Classic or Not?

     So far this year I have read a lot of books that are easily defined as a classic: Emma by Jane Austen, Crime and Punishment, and even Watership Down, though its author is still alive. Of course there are many, many others. I've read a lot of books that are called classics, but are they truly? Can a book be a classic if its author is still alive? Perhaps if 50 years had gone by I could understand. But just 20 years? Or TEN?
     If Ender's Game is a classic, is Speaker for the Dead? Is Game of Thrones a classic? What about The Help? Is that, too, already considered a classic. Can I count these books as part of the 50 classics I seek to read this year? I even struggled putting Ender's Game into the count, and when I did that, I wanted to count Speaker for the Dead too, especially because I feel it was the better of the two. Yet I didn't. I don't know why. I also didn't count The Time Traveler's Wife, which many would claim as a classic without a doubt. Same with The Notebook. I plan on reading The Help, Water for Elephants, The Thirteenth Tale, Stardust, and the rest of the Song of Ice and Fire series and Ender's Game series. Would you count these as classics? Would you have counted Speaker for the Dead, Game of Thrones, The Time Traveler's Wife, and The Notebook?
     If I count all these book as classics, then I must make my goal higher. At the same time I feel I must make distinctions between the solid classics and the newer classics. And then what of contemporary classics like One Day and Perks of Being a Wallflower? Or Hunger Games? Or... Well, there seems to be no limitation nor does it seem to be very hard to qualify as a classic. Where is the line drawn? Why is it that we have such low standards or to be so quick to call something a classic? There used to be a time as a young girl that I thought a book was only a classic if it was written 100 years ago. Then as I got older that 100 became 50. Now it seems to be 20 or 10 or less than that! So long as the sales are high, it's written with high quality, and it's well loved, we are quick to call it a classic. Yet how many will stand the test of time?
     With technology advancing and the world flinging along quicker and quicker, it makes sense that we are so quick to call something a classic or to be assured that it will be a classic. With all honesty, there are many books that will be immortalized because of our technology. Likewise we do not have all the great books from long ago because of the lack of technology. But does this mean our new books are classics? I understand and even join along in quickly labeling a book a classic, but I find it hard to place all these new classics on the same shelves as those written hundreds of years ago. I see classics written between 50 and 100 years ago to be bridging the gap between the ancient classics and those that have been released recently which we already labeling as classics. What are your thought on all these ideas?
  1. What books from the past 25 years would you consider solidly a classic to be counted in my 50 classics?
  2. Would you consider the rest of a series classics if the first book is? Even if the rest of the series is still being published? (Game of Thrones, Ender's Game, The Giver)
  3. If an author still living wrote a classic and is still publishing books, are all their books classics as well? (Lois Lowry- The Giver, J.K. Rowling- Harry Potter, George R. R. Martin- Game of Thrones, Richard Adams- Watership Down)
P.S. It is a lot of fun to guess what books will be classics in the future. What are some of your favorites?

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