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Old August 27 2013, 01:32 AM   #1
RoJoHen
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New classic literature?

English was always one of my least favorite subjects in school, primarily because I was forced to read books that I really didn't enjoy. At some point, someone decided that certain books, which I am referring to here as "classic literature," were worthy of being taught in school. I always wondered whose job it was to make those decisions.

What I'm wondering now, though, is what books will be added to the list in 20, 30, 40 years? The most "modern" book that I read in school was, from what I recall, "Night" by Elie Wiesel. It was a book about the Holocaust in WWII, and it is a book that the school district continues to teach. My mom teaches high school, and she has to read it every year with her Sophomores.

I know that in the last couple years I have seen "Ender's Game" actually make the Required Reading lists in this area. I know I was first exposed to it during an independent reading project my freshman year of high school in 1999. The book was only write in 1985.

What is the most modern book that you're aware of that is being taught in schools? Are there any books that you have read that you think will be taught in the years to come?
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Old August 27 2013, 01:53 AM   #2
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Re: New classic literature?

Do they have to be taught in schools to be considered classic? Most of the newer books that I consider classics would probably be considered inappropriate for teenagers by school boards. (Not by me, of course. Just by school boards. )

Roberto Bolano - 2666, Savage Detectives
Don Delillo - White Noise, Underground
Philip Roth - The Human Stain, American Pastoral
Jonathan Franzen - The Corrections
Marilynne Robinson - Gilead

Out of those, The Human Stain is probably most likely to show up in schools.
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Old August 27 2013, 05:28 PM   #3
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Re: New classic literature?

Were I to guess, I'd say:

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay- 20+ years from now

Oryx and Crake or The Handmaid's Tale- 10+ years from now

Devil In the White City- any time now

That's based on trends I noticed in 3 years at Borders prior to their closing. All of those books were being requested by high school kids based on reading lists assigned.

edit: The Franzen title is also likely.
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Old August 27 2013, 05:29 PM   #4
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Re: New classic literature?

My nephew was telling me about The Giver, by Lois Lowry, which was assigned to him in school a couple of years ago. It was published in 1993 but it's already part of the district's junior-high reading list. I imagine it will also be picked up by other districts.
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Old August 27 2013, 06:57 PM   #5
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Re: New classic literature?

auntiehill wrote: View Post
My nephew was telling me about The Giver, by Lois Lowry, which was assigned to him in school a couple of years ago. It was published in 1993 but it's already part of the district's junior-high reading list. I imagine it will also be picked up by other districts.
The Giver was a part of my reading curriculum when I was in middle school, around 1997. So, it became a "classic" fairly quickly! But I can understand why. It was definitely one of my favorite books we read in school. I liked it so much I went out and bought my own copy.
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Old August 27 2013, 07:56 PM   #6
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Re: New classic literature?

Ah! Forgot about "The Giver." I never actually read it, but I know other classes that did when I was in middle school, which was in the mid-90s.
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Old August 27 2013, 11:30 PM   #7
Alidar Jarok
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Re: New classic literature?

auntiehill wrote: View Post
My nephew was telling me about The Giver, by Lois Lowry, which was assigned to him in school a couple of years ago. It was published in 1993 but it's already part of the district's junior-high reading list. I imagine it will also be picked up by other districts.
That's a good example. Not only would I consider it classic literature (albeit children's literature), but it shows some of the things needed to be a "classic" book taught in schools. For one thing, it's got to have themes and messages worth thinking and discussing.
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Old August 28 2013, 04:35 PM   #8
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Re: New classic literature?

Alidar Jarok wrote: View Post
auntiehill wrote: View Post
My nephew was telling me about The Giver, by Lois Lowry, which was assigned to him in school a couple of years ago. It was published in 1993 but it's already part of the district's junior-high reading list. I imagine it will also be picked up by other districts.
That's a good example. Not only would I consider it classic literature (albeit children's literature), but it shows some of the things needed to be a "classic" book taught in schools. For one thing, it's got to have themes and messages worth thinking and discussing.
I've never read The Giver, and it may be an excellent book for its target readership, but it sounds like a pastiche of ideas from Brave New World, Harrison Bergeron, Fahrenheit 451, THX-1138, and several old Twilight Zone episodes.
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Old August 28 2013, 04:37 PM   #9
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Re: New classic literature?

scotpens wrote: View Post
Alidar Jarok wrote: View Post
auntiehill wrote: View Post
My nephew was telling me about The Giver, by Lois Lowry, which was assigned to him in school a couple of years ago. It was published in 1993 but it's already part of the district's junior-high reading list. I imagine it will also be picked up by other districts.
That's a good example. Not only would I consider it classic literature (albeit children's literature), but it shows some of the things needed to be a "classic" book taught in schools. For one thing, it's got to have themes and messages worth thinking and discussing.
I've never read The Giver, and it may be an excellent book for its target readership, but it sounds like a pastiche of ideas from Brave New World, Harrison Bergeron, Fahrenheit 451, THX-1138, and several old Twilight Zone episodes.
And every plot ever dreamed up by human beings can be found in the works of Shakespeare-so what?
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Old August 28 2013, 07:05 PM   #10
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Re: New classic literature?

scotpens wrote: View Post
Alidar Jarok wrote: View Post
auntiehill wrote: View Post
My nephew was telling me about The Giver, by Lois Lowry, which was assigned to him in school a couple of years ago. It was published in 1993 but it's already part of the district's junior-high reading list. I imagine it will also be picked up by other districts.
That's a good example. Not only would I consider it classic literature (albeit children's literature), but it shows some of the things needed to be a "classic" book taught in schools. For one thing, it's got to have themes and messages worth thinking and discussing.
I've never read The Giver, and it may be an excellent book for its target readership, but it sounds like a pastiche of ideas from Brave New World, Harrison Bergeron, Fahrenheit 451, THX-1138, and several old Twilight Zone episodes.
Well, you should read it if you want to make that conclusion. I haven't read Harrison Bergeron and THX-1138, so I can't comment on your comparison, unfortunately. Although, I suspect most works of literature can be summed up by combining five or six works like that.
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Old August 30 2013, 04:04 PM   #11
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Re: New classic literature?

I'd like to think Terry Pratchett would be on that list, especially for 'Night Watch'

There's even a book out there called 'Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature'
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Old August 31 2013, 09:44 PM   #12
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Re: New classic literature?

I've seen kids toting around "Life of Pi" at the school where I teach. I think they teach "The Kite Runner" as well.

Of the books I've read recently, I'd like to see "The Orphan Master's Son" or "The Glass Castle" make it into classrooms.
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Old August 31 2013, 10:45 PM   #13
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Re: New classic literature?

Mistral wrote: View Post
Oryx and Crake or The Handmaid's Tale- 10+ years from now
I've recently read Oryx and Crake, and I think that there are much better dystopian novels out there. Don't get me wrong, it's a great dystopia... it's just not a great novel. I was impressed by all the neologisms and how well she developed this vision of where genetic engineering may lead us, but the characters left me cold. It's a novel of ideas with a very non-compelling human story.

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
Do they have to be taught in schools to be considered classic? Most of the newer books that I consider classics would probably be considered inappropriate for teenagers by school boards. (Not by me, of course. Just by school boards. )

Roberto Bolano - 2666, Savage Detectives
Don Delillo - White Noise, Underground
Philip Roth - The Human Stain, American Pastoral
Jonathan Franzen - The Corrections
Marilynne Robinson - Gilead

Out of those, The Human Stain is probably most likely to show up in schools.
I hope so. Now that is a great novel.
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Old September 1 2013, 06:19 AM   #14
sidious618
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Re: New classic literature?

There's a heck of a lot of 20th century lit taught in English classrooms, especially young adult lit. Now there's also an increase in non-fiction, much of which will also be current. The idea that English class reading is always old books is becoming more and more outdated now. Sure, Shakespeare is still read but pretty much everything else is, at the earliest, 1850 and up.
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Old September 1 2013, 04:00 PM   #15
Spot's Meow
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Re: New classic literature?

sidious618 wrote: View Post
There's a heck of a lot of 20th century lit taught in English classrooms, especially young adult lit. Now there's also an increase in non-fiction, much of which will also be current. The idea that English class reading is always old books is becoming more and more outdated now. Sure, Shakespeare is still read but pretty much everything else is, at the earliest, 1850 and up.
I think it was Junior year of English at my school that was dedicated entirely to American literature. We started with The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, and lots of Mark Twain, before moving on to several 20th century titles. A lot of this was "newer" and more current than much of the European literature we read in Freshman and Sophomore year. I believe Senior year was more about writing skills and poetry than reading tons of novels.
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