12 Modern Books That Will Become Classics, According To People On Reddit

There are certain books that feel almost inherently "classic." To Kill A Mockingbird. Catcher in the Rye. Moby freaking Dick. But do you ever wonder what the world thought when these books first hit shelves? Who was the initial voice that pointed to their covers and said, "You - you're special"? We regard "classics books" with a level of veneration that is not afforded to so many other works. We teach "classics" to our children. We pat ourselves on the back for powering through a certain number of "classics," regardless of whether we actually, uh, like them. But time does not stand still. There are books on our shelves right now, being placed lovingly on "New Release" tables by booksellers, that will someday be given their own little "classics" stamps. What modern books will become literary classics? And why will we designate them as such?

We're not the only ones who wonder about the future of literary acclaim. Yesterday, a debate arose on the Reddit Books page. "What are some contemporary literature books (last 20-30 years) that you think may attain 'classic' status decades in the future?" asked user fabrar. "By classic status I mean the reputation that novels like Crime and Punishment, To Kill a Mockingbird, Les Miserables, Moby Dick, Don Quixote, etc. have attained, i.e. Standing the test of time through decades (sometimes centuries) and used as a standard and as a learning tool in educational institutions."

Over 120 users hurried to the message board to debate what merits a figurative "classic" stamp of approval. Graphic novels, novels by women, by people of color, books that charted territory through the Holocaust, through India's independence, through the American South, were all mentioned. It's a deeply diverse list, and it illustrated the fact that the future is bright and it is hopeful and it is filled with a host of new stories.

'Maus' by Art Spiegelman

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The inclusion of Maus, a Holocaust survivor story (and winner of a Pulitzer Prize) sparked a debate about the potential of graphic novels within the "classics" canon. Are they considered literature? Will they ever carry enough clout to compete with tomes like Moby Dick? "I would include novels, poems and plays, so why not a graphic novel?" argued user finding_flora.

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'Americanah' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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A story of immigration and identity, of race and of love, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah has already been nominated as one of America's "best-loved novels" by PBS' The Great American Read. When New York City launched its "One Book, One New York" program last year, Americanah was on the shortlist.

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'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro

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A Nobel Prize is a pretty clear indication of a book's "classics" worthiness, and Never Let Me Go, a haunting work of speculative fiction, wins double for tackling questions of morality and memory, and for forcing us to consider the worth of a human body and the ways we commodify them.

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'Persepolis' by Marjane Satrapi

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Another graphic novel that made the list, Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis tells the story of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution as a rebellious, passionate, wry and wholly charming teen.

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'Midnight’s Children' by Salman Rushdie

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A story of India told through the lens of one extraordinary boy - born at the stroke of midnight on the day of India's independence, Saleem Sinai is telepathically linked to the other 1,000 children who share his exact birth date and time - Midnight's Children won the "Booker of Bookers" in 1993, awarded to the best of the first 25 years of Man Booker Prize winners. Fifteen years later, it won the same award, again.

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'The Name of the Rose' by Umberto Eco

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Umberto Eco's first novel, a detective (sorta) novel set in a Franciscan abbey in 1327, The Name of the Rose won the Premio Strega, Italy's most prestigious literary award, and France's Foreign Medici Award. It was also adapted into a 1986 movie starring Sean Connery. And people love that dude.

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'White Teeth' by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith's debut novel introduced the world to Smith's panoramic, multi-layered style, and to an England barreling towards the future in a post-World War II world. It's also on the PBS' The Great American Read nominee list.

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'Sing, Unburied, Sing' by Jesmyn Ward

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Winner of the National Book Award, finalist for the Kirkus Prize, finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal and a New York Times Top 10 Best Book of the Year, Jesmyn Ward's latest novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, which traces a family's saga throughout rural Mississippi, has already racked up a serious resume since its 2017 publication.

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Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels

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If you haven't read any of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels, which chart the fierce female friendship that burns brights in a post-WWII Italy, then you better get to reading - the series is set to be adapted for an HBO series, debuting this upcoming fall.

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'Norwegian Wood' by Haruki Murakami

Fan favorite Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood first hit shelves in Japan, where it sold over four million copies before being translated for an American audience. First love and first moments of hopelessness intersect in this coming-of-age novel.

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'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy

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The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy's debut novel about an affluent Indian family, was so affecting, so searing (it did, after all, win the Man Booker Prize and was a New York Times best seller), that it kept fans captivated for literal decades, while Roy worked on her second (and equally fantastic) book.

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'The Savage Detectives' by Roberto Bolaño

Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, founders of a fringe literary movement, embark on a decades-long, Don Quixote-esque adventure in The Savage Detectives, often powering through the uncharted area of overlap between literature and violence.

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