Well, here I am, hours away from the deadline, BUT I managed it. I read all twelve books for Amy’s Up and Coming Classics Challenge 2017. Woohoo! So I get three entries… and it looks like maybe it won’t end up mattering that I have three entries instead of two because I might be the only one to finish the challenge at all. But that’s okay!
For each book, I needed to decide whether or not it will become a classic, and why. The hardest part for me here is the question… What makes a classic, anyway? So I’m going to have my own rating system.
I consider a modern book to be a “classic” if:
- I will give it an honored place on my shelf;
- I believe it to be among the best books in the genre; and,
- I believe that, a century or two from now, anyone with a casual interest in the subject matter will have at all even heard of the book.
Anyway, without further ado, here are the books I read for the challenge.
1. What’s Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot, Ph.D. (2000)
The verdict? It will have an honored place on my shelf. It’s definitely the best book on brain development I know of accessible to layreaders… But, given the breakneck pace of neuroscience advances nowadays, I seriously doubt it will be current enough in the year 2100 that a person casually interested in child development will have heard of it. So… no. Not a classic, but a good book.
2. Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It by Gabriel Wyner (2011)
The verdict? It will have an honored place on my shelf. It’s the best book on effective language learning that I know of… Aaaaand, yes. I do indeed think people will still know about and talk about Wyner’s language learning techniques (and thus, this book) in 2111. So… yes. It’s a classic.
3. Norms & Nobility: A Treatise on Education by David V. Hicks (1981)
The verdict: Oh, heck yes, this sucker has an honored place on my shelf. It’s the best book on modern classical education I know of, even if it is densely written. And I can easily imagine it being read and discussing by classical education fanatics in 2081. So… yes. It’s a classic!
History / Biography
4. Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober (1995)
The verdict: Yes, it will have an honored place on my shelf. I think it’s exceptionally well-done. But will anyone have heard of this particular book in 2095? I’m going to guess… no. Not a classic. Sorry, Abigail.
5. On Wings of Faith: My Daily Walk with a Prophet by Frederick Babbel (1972)
The verdict: I’m don’t think I’ll get rid of it, but I don’t think I would notice if I couldn’t find it on my shelf if it decided to walk away. Frederick Babbel is probably a lot more fun to listen to than to read. I really think this will be a very interesting book that is simply lost to history. So… no, I wouldn’t call this one a classic.
6. Yearning for the Living God: Reflections from the Life of F. Enzio Busche edited and compiled by Tracie A. Lamb (2004)
The verdict: Oh my, yes. This book. I am keeping this book forever. It’s exceptionally well done. But here’s the thing: it’s already an obscure book. Elder Busche is an emeritus General Authority, so by now most LDS church members don’t know who he his. In 2104, I doubt this book will be known by many. So, no, sadly, not a classic, even if I think it’s worthy of fame.
7. Circle of Magic: School of Wizardry by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald (1990)
The verdict: Given the nostalgia factor this one has in the Dilts family, this already has an honored place on my shelf. It’s a good book, but it also isn’t terribly impressive writing. The one remarkable thing about this book is how much the main character fails… but honorably. However, that’s the sort of content that doesn’t make a book popular. This is already a forgotten book, so therefore, I really don’t think it’ll ever make it to classic status.
8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
The verdict: This one definitely has an honored place on my shelf. It’s a wonderful book, and a pioneer of children’s science fiction. It’s around for good. It’s a classic.
9. The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo (2009)
This was delightful, and I don’t own it. I’m thinking I would swipe it up in a heartbeat if I saw a copy at a thrift shop, though. It’s a lovely book and a well-done one. However… unless it somehow manages to be made into a movie, I don’t think this one will be noticed by many in 2109. Not a classic.
10. Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)
The verdict: Okay, so this is simply one of the most successful science fiction novels of all time. It is a good book and is undeniably a classic already. And really, though it sounds I may not want the sequels on my shelf due to… well, excessive dark (and quite frankly, weird) material, the first Dune novel itself gets an honored place on the shelf. It’s a classic.
11. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher (2013)
The verdict: I’ve given this an honored place riiiight next to the real Shakespeare. It might be in a genre by itself: Shakespeare–Star Wars spoofs… but really, that’s such a small genre that I really do wonder how it’ll fare in the coming century. It’ll be a gem to all true dual Shakespeare and Star Wars fans, but… classic? I think not.
12. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (2017)
The verdict: You know, I really wasn’t blown away by this one. I was expecting to be, since I like Neil Gaiman and I like mythology… but I just felt there wasn’t a lot of depth in this. It was such a simple read. Maybe it was the subject matter. Despite its high popularity this year, I don’t think it’ll continue its popular streak all the way to 2117. Not a classic. Maybe with a bit more oomph, it could’ve been one, but no. I don’t think it’ll enjoy classic status.