Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Discussion: What books will teens be studying 100 years from now?

It's a question that popped into my mind a few days ago as I was writing up some reviews. I read mostly YA rather than adult fiction, where 'modern classics' are traditionally found, but was wondering if there were any YA novels that might fit the bill. When I still took English, I'd much rather have studied The Hunger Games than Macbeth, for sure! So, without further ado, my picks:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Yes, it’s a blockbuster, but I think it delves into the nasty side of human nature in a way that would make a great essay. Dystopian fiction seems to have been popular for years (Brave New World is my favourite classic!) and I think fear of a tyrannical government is an ever-present one. But this begs the question- is it possible to even study a series in school? Or is it just that when today’s ‘classics’ were written series fiction might not have been so common?

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - I know it’s already being studied today in some places, but I think this is definitely one you could analyze for an essay—plus, it deals with themes that are present in books I myself have studied at school. (It could be a way more enjoyable version of Tess of D’Ubervilles, except, you know, sans murder and the illegitimate kid called ‘Sorrow’. And with a heroine who actually does something instead of sitting around going ‘woe-is-me’.)

Split by Swati Avasthi

I think domestic violence is always going to be a relevant topic, and I’ve never read it written as well and realistically as in Split. It’s also from a male perspective, which seems to be a little rarer in YA these days. Nothing’s tied up neatly, and there’s certainly conflict—Jace doesn’t get let off easily for anything.

But hey, who says that all books/plays you study in school have to be gritty? What about Pride and Prejudice? Romeo and Juliet? Okay, perhaps the latter is gritty enough to set an essay on, but plenty of books I’ve been set to study seem to follow high society women chasing high society men. Will our grandchildren be studying Gossip Girl, perhaps? (If that’s the case, my descendants can count me out when asking for help with English Lit homework. Two books on a tedious weekend gave me all the Gossip Girl exposure I will ever need.)

Okay, forget what teachers will make future kids study, what do we think they’ll want to read? When you’re 90 years old and the spritely young girl volunteering at your nursing home asks you for a book recommendation, what will you tell them to pick out? I'd certainly recommend the above books anyway, because I wholeheartedly love them all, but in terms of fiction that's a little more fun?

I’ll certainly be pointing any girls in the direction of an enormous box set of anything Tamora Pierce has ever written as well as Lili St. Crow’s Strange Angels series so that they can learn some girl power. Anna and the French Kiss, Perfect Chemistry and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour will definitely satisfy their hopeless-romantic sides so that they don’t end up becoming obsessed with futuristic Harlequin Romances. (What kind of cheesy titles would they have? The Hovercraft Tycoon’s Genetically Altered Mistress?) And if they want something uniquely paranormal, Diana Peterfreund’s Killer Unicorns series and Holly Black’s Curse Workers books could fit the bill.

This begs the question of whether people will even be reading books in 100 years time. Will they even know how to read or write? Will all media work through a little chip in their brains like in Feed? Whether or not e-books will dominate the marketplace in ten years seems a little irrelevant when you ponder the scary alternatives.

What books do you think high school students will be studying a century from now? What books will you beg your grandchildren to read? Do you know where I can get a huge box set of everything written by Tamora Pierce? Most importantly, can you come up with a better fake futuristic Harlequin romance title? You know where to click.

Lastly, a quick reminder about my giveaway of 'Angel' by LA Weatherly. I'm giving away a signed copy, and it's open internationally! You can also get an extra entry by answering my survey. Enter now; if the book-pocalypse strikes soon, it may be the last thing you ever read.

Let's hope not. The thought of never reading again is causing me great distress. On that note- I'll sign off.



  1. Hey this is a really good post! I really love the concept of it =) GREAT JOB!!!

  2. I am so thrilled that Split made this list. You've put it above the fold with two of my favs which makes this even sweeter!

    Also, I thought you'd want to know: I already teach both Hunger Games and Speak. (but I teach them to creative writing students, most of whom are adults). Still, ha!

    And this is a great idea for a post!

    Thanks again

  3. I really love this list. And also, to let you know, I'm a senior in high school and my AP English teacher is teaching The Hunger Games with us. I loved the series, so it is going to be interesting to actually talk about it in a school setting.
    Happy reading!

  4. Harry Potter, of course :) I can't imagine that series not becoming a classic.


Related Posts with Thumbnails