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Topic: Modern Classics

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Subject: Modern Classics
Date Posted: 2/4/2012 1:24 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2005
Posts: 1,479
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My bookclub always reads one classic a year, this time someone suggested reading a modern classic.  Not sure what that is.  Does anyone have any suggestions?

Date Posted: 2/4/2012 1:46 PM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2010
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I'm assuming that "Modern" means that it was written in the 20th century, and "Classic" means everyone (or almost everyone) agrees that it's a great book. If I'm correct, then I would reccomend To Kill a Mockingbird. I know there was something else, and I'll post if I think of it.


Date Posted: 2/4/2012 8:37 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
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Here is a link to books designated as "modern classics" on Goodreads: Popular Modern Classics. HOWEVER, this is a subjective list. I think anything before 1900  (and some might say later) does not qualify as "modern." But because a classic is a book that stands the test of time, I'd be skeptical of labeling any book written within the last 20 years or so as classic; some might say 25 years; some might say 30 years -- it's fairly arbitrary.

I do think most of us would agree that books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies are modern classics.  But labeling The Kite Runner, Atonement, or the Harry Potter books as modern classics is, I think, dubious.

Modern Library, which might be a better source, compiled in 1998 a few different lists of 20th c. books that would be good sources of modern classics: 100 Best Novels (includes both the board's choices and readers' choices); 100 Best Non-Fiction; and Radcliffe's Rival 100 Best Novels.

Good luck!


Last Edited on: 2/4/12 8:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/4/2012 9:25 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
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I read through that list Popular Modern Classics .and was surprised not to see As I Lay Dying.  Or Grapes of Wrath.  But really pleased to see Handmaid's Tale and The Color Purple.  I think that these lists are alway incomplete, but most, not all of the books, we read in High School English classes.

Date Posted: 2/5/2012 10:31 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2005
Posts: 1,479
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Thank you.  This was very helpful.

Date Posted: 2/6/2012 4:47 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
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The Grapes of Wrath is one of the best books I've ever read. Heck, just about anything by Steinbeck is awesome!


Date Posted: 2/8/2012 9:20 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
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I agree! Steinbeck is phenomenal. I just finished Travels with Charley and it was great. The Pearl is good too. A little intense but would generate great discussion.

How about something by Graham Greene? The End of the Affair?

Date Posted: 2/11/2012 10:15 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
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When anyone mentions "Modern Classics" to me, Steinbeck is the first thing that always pops into my mind.  "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a great book too!

Date Posted: 2/12/2012 12:35 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I just read All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (won the Pulitzer Prize in the late 1940s) and it was excellent. I recommend it! (It's #36 on the Modern Library 100 Novels list linked above.)

Date Posted: 2/12/2012 12:50 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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I love Steinbeck too, but much prefer East of Eden to Grapes of Wrath.  Some other great modern classics are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier and The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. I'd also suggest The Great Gatsby, there's a new movie version coming out later this year so now's the time.

For something that's defiitely accessible you could go with Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie- its a classic mystery, but also quite thought provoking.