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  • Ashley

Top 5 Wednesday: Future Classics

Top 5 Wednesday from Goodreads

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly book meme brought by T5W on Goodreads.

Happy Wednesday! I was a doofus and missed out on last week's topic (Top 5 Angsty Romances), but I'm back with the last topic of March: Future Classics!

So what does it even mean to call a book "classic," anyway? I got lots of ideas about this as an undergraduate, and then a graduate, student in lit-rit-ure (you have to say it with the know the one I mean). And then got some more ideas when I tried to teach the classics to students who could not GAF.

Italo Calvino has offered 14 definitions of a classic. (If you're interested in reading all of them, click the link to The Atlantic article!) But here are a few of my favorite of his definitions about what classics are:

  • Those books you're always "re-reading"...not just "reading"

  • Those books that have never "exhausted all it has to say."

  • "'Your' classic is a book to which you cannot remain indifferent, and which helps you define yourself in relation or even in opposition to it."

I think that last one (Calvino's 11th, actually) is one of the most valuable in the grand scheme of things. I like the idea that a classic doesn't have to be loved, universally or otherwise. It just has to suck you in and resonate, both on the individual level ("your" classic) as well as on a more universal level.

For my students who couldn't be bothered, I think there is this idea that classic literature usually just means inaccessible books by and about dead white dudes.

Will people ever read YA novels in literature classes the way English Lit students now read Shakespeare, Donne, Woolf, Faulker, O'Conner, Hurston, Morrison and others? Are we even at a point where we can consider Woolf, O'Conner, and Hurston "classics?" If not, there's my list for this week.

For the sake of fun, I'm going to focus on some of my recent favorites of the past 5 years or so, and think about what I think people should still be reading in 50, 60, 100+ years from now. I've chosen 5 books that I hope will be on some of those lists. I've included some fantasy, contemporary, and even young adult.

Most of my choices adhere to Calvino's 11th definition, though I do love many of them more than that definition seems to require. (The only exception would probably be A Game of Thrones, which I just believe has that sticking power.) Most of the books I just haven't been able to stop thinking about since I read them, and what they say about humans and this world we live in.

What do you think? Do any of your favorite future classics match up with mine? Do you have any thoughts or questions about why I've included what I've included? Leave me a comment below or on Twitter!

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