Literary Hop: Timeless

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Before I get to the Hop, I want to express thanks for a few things. First of all, I am thankful to have made it home! We were caught in a blizzard in southern Idaho that turned a 6 hour drive into 10, but we made it safely. I am very thankful to have made it home.

Second, I am grateful for you! Thank you for reading my blog. I read and appreciate every comment, and those of you who have blogs, I really enjoy perusing your blogs and finding new books to read. I am new to the world of book blogging and it has been great to have some readers so early in the game.

Third, I am thankful for The Blue Bookcase for hosting the Literary Blog Hop! I like thinking about these questions and reading the perspectives of others. And with that...

Literary Blog Hop

This week's question is...

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

Honestly, I don't think contemporary novels are classics (yet). They haven't had the opportunity to prove themselves. I guess I probably should define what "classic" is in my opinion. I think classics are well-written novels with universal themes that are relevant for most people. Classics also need to have more staying power than the New York Times Bestseller list. I've had a teacher require that we use books written before 1950 for a classics project. While I don't think the date is set in stone, I do think if a book sticks around for more than fifty years, it has some staying power and one would hope some beautiful writing as well.

While I don't think contemporary novels have reached the lofty goal of classic-hood, it is fun to guess which books will last and be read by my grandchildren in high school. I'll bet Twilight will have disappeared by then, and as much as I love The Hunger Games, I think that fad will probably be over as well. I think a novel I have recently read that does have a chance is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The Road takes some common problems - are we running the world down, can "the center hold" - and transforms it into our worst nightmare. I think that will resonate with future generations as well as ours. It interweaves these external issues with an internal question that I think resonates with all humanity - What is morality and can it change with circumstance? Add the emotional ties between father and son, some good writing and originality, and simmer for twenty-five to fifty years. (It doesn't hurt that The Road has a nice, shiny Pulitzer to its credit, either). Voila! Classic.

What do you think? Do you have any ideas on some of our contemporary "classics" that will last through the ages?


  1. I read four novels by McCarthy and I would all put them up there as classics. He just has a knack for what's important. My favorite is Blood Meridian.

  2. I agree that classics are books that have lasted the ups and downs of fickle readers for more than a century or so, but I would make a bid for modern classics inhabiting the twilight zone of 50-100 years ago, like Orwell's works, say. But I agree the fun is in spotting what's going to last! I haven't dared read The road - it looks too grim for me, but I have heard very good things about it.

  3. We're thankful for you too! Haha, wouldn't it be funny if Twilight actually became a classic?

  4. The road is such a powerful novel ,it will surely become a modern classic and even a classic ,all the best stu

  5. I love your statement about having more staying power than the NY Times Bestseller List! :) I'm also glad to hear that you'd consider The Road to be a Modern Classic, that's what I chose for my Back to the Classics Challenge as my 21st century classic.

  6. Sadly I mostly agree with you about Hunger Games, though I hold out hope. One of my issues with defining classics as written before 1950 is the dearth of published female writers or writers of color in that time period. I find that same bias in the book world's media darlings of today. If you want to see my picks, you can find my post at

  7. I agree.

    Here are my thoughts:

  8. The Road can be on the road to become a classic!

    Here is my Literary Blog Hop post!

  9. Oh, The Road is a great choice. I'd guess much of McCarthy's work will survive.

  10. Only read one McCarthy & that was The Sunset Limited, which I though was fantastic, so am in agreement with you.

  11. I agree that all this dystopian and YA is a fad. These novels might be fun reads, but are not brilliant and do not have that 'staying power' to become classics.

    And the plot thickens...

  12. McCarthy's work will probably stay. This was a good question, and prompted a very interesting conversation.

  13. Sorry everyone about the delay in response to your comments! Things have been a bit crazy with driving through blizzards and having papers and tests awaiting me back at school!

    @Ben - I have been wanting to read Blood Meridian ever since my 11th grade English teacher went on about it admiringly. I'll have to move it higher on the TBR.

    @litlove - Definitely don't read that book if you don't want to be in a gloomy mood for a few days. And I agree that many more recent books definitely have the potential to be classics and are already considered classics by many. I'm excited to see what my future grandchildren will be reading in school.

    @IngridLola - Then we would have high school students writing papers on the sociohistorical reasons for being Team Edward or Team Jacob... haha.

    @winstonsdad - I agree!

    @Melody - good, I hope you enjoy it. It is a powerful book.

    @Heather - that is too true. Most of my favorite authors are female (think Edith Wharton) and thankfully the canon is growing to accept a wider range of work.

    @readerbuzz - Oh my I loved your post. When I read contemporary classic, I have to admit the first thing I thought of was that jarring discordant contemporary music (some of which is beautiful, but most of which is unpalatable for me at least). Kind of like your pictures. Haha.

    @gautami tripathy - Exactly - not there yet but on its way! I'm glad you included John Steinbeck in your post as a modern classic - I think he will be around for a long time.

    @Amy - I will have to read more of it - I've only read The Road.

    @parrish lantern - I will have to add that to my TBR! I've never heard of that one.

    @Rachel - I love to read those fun books, but I don't even remember them after I read them. They are my "TV" books. I feel like everyone either scorns them or becomes obsessed with them - I am glad that you are with me and can enjoy them without becoming obsessed!

    @bibliophiliac - Yes, it sounds like most people think McCarthy will stick around. I am interested to know what will be said about The Road in 50 years.


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