Books That I Think Will Be Future Classics

No doubt whatever I put on this list will be controversial for academics and bookworms alike. So I do want to clear some things up: I’m specifically going for “classics” in the academic sense, not “stand the test of time” books (there is, in my humble opinion, a difference). You’ll probably be able to note the books that I think are simply wonderful, but that don’t fit well enough into that category. This is a combination of books I personally admire and my own experience of the canon, not what I think the most popular books of our time are and I do hope people won’t be offended by what is/isn’t on here. And obviously, this doesn’t mean that I think I’ll be right, because who knows what the future holds? University students might very well end up studying Noddy in 2200 for all I know- at least I won’t be around to see it 😉 Without further ado, here are some books that I reckon *should*/*will be* the classics of the future:

The Book Thief– I hadn’t mentioned this book in ages… and now I’m mentioning it twice in a week- figures 😉 It is an *amazing*, inventive and emotional book. I definitely think this is the sort of book that would be worth delving into a little deeper, whether or not it does end up getting studied in the future- at least in schools surely!

Homegoing– a modern day epic, spanning centuries, it’s a remarkable piece of literature. With so many embedded themes and stunning writing, I’d be amazed if this didn’t end up on a university syllabus in the future.

Memoirs of a Geisha- Again, I’ve mentioned this recently, but I do think it’s a singularly striking story. I think this already has the label of “modern day classic”- but I don’t set much stock in that label. Most of the time it seems like a marketing ploy to be honest. However, when it comes to this book it’s pretty apt.

Never Let Me Go– yep, this also falls into that category of “modern day classic”- yet it’s fully deserving of that moniker. The writing, while unshowy, is very powerful and there’s a lot of fascinating themes about what it is to be human here. I certainly think it’s worth studying in greater depth.

A Thousand Splendid Suns– I know a lot of people would put the Kite Runner ahead of this- and I’ve no doubt that both will end up as future classics. The reason I put this ahead of Hosseini’s other books is quite simply because I love it so much!! Beyond the emotional depth, the writing is seductively beautiful and the story itself speaks to the human experience.

The Shadow of the Wind– I’m trying to not include books in translation, but I can’t help it with this one, because what a gem this book is! In any language, this book speaks to my soul and truly captures the essence of what it is to fall in love with stories. There’s so much here to admire- the characters, the multi-layered story and the wonderful writing. I certainly think there’s grounds for further exploration of its literary merit.

The Northern Lights– this could be hit or miss, because there’s a snob-value that goes into these decisions, and depending on the university, some do not see fantasy like the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings as a classic (they’re wrong, but whatever). Purely going on my own experience at a redbrick, this could be studied…

Neverwhere– again, I can’t say for certain that this will end up as a future classic- but it definitely deserves to be. Unlike a lot of the books on here, this isn’t my favourite by the author (though it’s wonderful), only I think this is the best example of all the symbolism and intrigue that Gaiman has to offer. I do know someone that did their dissertation partly on American Gods, so it’s not totally implausible as well.

There are a couple of other books that I’d like to put on here but I’m a bit more sceptical about whether they’d make it into the canon (even if I think they should). In the meantime, which books do you think will be future classic? Let me know in the comments!

141 thoughts on “Books That I Think Will Be Future Classics

  1. I think you’re probably right about a few of these. I hope that The Book Theif, Never Let Me Go, and The Shadow of the Wind are classics someday. They deserve to be read by people in the future. I might argue that Northern Lights and Neverwhere are already considered classics within the fantasy genre. Whether they’ll be classics in the academic sense depends largely, IMO, on how future generations perceive genre fiction, but they’re already proving classic in the “standing the test of time” sense of the word (which I agree is different.)

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    1. Thank you! I’m glad you agree there. Yeah I definitely think that these will stand the test of time and are classics in the fantasy genre- I just can’t predict how genre fiction in general will be perceived in the future- I reckon it’ll be much like a lot of genres historically getting integrated into the whole. Like I said, some unis already are including some genre fiction

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      1. Which is wonderful, IMO. There’s a perception of genre fiction as formulaic and commercial. It can be that, but it can also be innovative and literary. That should be recognized and acknowledged more than it currently is.

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        1. Yeah I really agree with you- I think of it the same way as the literary fiction genre- some of it is good and some of it not so much. It seems a silly and snobbish pov to dismiss it so quickly. But I figure “genre fiction” will have the last laugh anyway 😉

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  2. Absolutely agree with your list! A Thousand Splendid Suns is also my favourite by this author, the writing feels like a fairy tale for adults, at least to me. And I just love Never let me go – it’s definitely worth being discussed at school! And Neverwhere is of course a classic all on its own. 😉 I think The Ocean at the end of the lane is my favourite by him so far, although Coraline and The Graveyard Book is also very close for this position.

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  3. I definitely see The Book Thief as a classic and I think Memoirs of a Geisha might already be that status at least here in the states. It was required reading for my little sister back when she was in middle school years ago. I think it would be wonderful for fantasy books to be classics cause I completely agree with the Northern Lights. That is such a good series that is so underrated.

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  4. The only book I’ve read on this list is A Thousand Splendid Suns, but I would love it if a Neil Gaiman book became a classic! I’m really hoping a book by RIchard Wagamese (a recently deceased Canadian Indigenous author) becomes a classic, he’s an amazing writer.

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  5. Neverwhere is a classic as far as I am concerned haha 😛 But I have to hang my head in shame, as many of these are on my TBR and not yet made it into my actual hands. I better get started. If they become classics, then I will never read them haha. That seems to be the way it goes. Great post my friend – xx

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  6. It’s been long enough since I’ve read Neverwhere that I can’t comment on its potential classic status. I want to read Shadow of the Wind, though, so I have high hopes for that one.

    I would add that most school classics reading doesn’t include a series. Maybe one book from the series (ie: A Wrinkle In Time) but not the whole series. (To continue the example: many more people have read Wrinkle than are aware that it’s part of a quintet.)

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    1. Ah fair enough! Great! I do hope you like it!

      That’s a fair point- although, like I said, some unis have things like LOTR on the list (although that started as one book anyway, so plays into that rule a little)

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        1. Ah fair enough- it was on a couple of specific courses at my uni as well- but I don’t know how much they assigned since I didn’t take that class. I do know that a lot of other unis don’t offer courses like that though

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          1. One of my favorite classes at uni was the “Fairy Tales and Fables” class I took. So much fun! I got to read things I would have read for pleasure as class assignments!

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  7. Have you seen The Brief Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz? I think it meets your criteria because it’s not only a remarkable (and Pulitzer Prize winning book) but also because it touches on issues of race, history, culture, etc., just the sort of thing meant to get kids thinking.

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  8. You know, this is a pretty great list. From the ones I’ve read, I could completely see them being studied in school. Especially Never Let Me Go. Because like you said, there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to that one lol.

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  9. It is a very well thought list and I agree with your choices. Of course the future is unknown but reading your post I started pondering on what will “classic” mean in the future. Although the nature of reading will be the same (again, no guarantees) the way we access books, the way we discuss about them, their availability etc have profoundly changed in the last decade or so. And who knows how these changes (and maybe more along the way) will affect our perception of “classic”.

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    1. Thank you very much. And that’s a really interesting point that I’d never even considered- I mean, universities are already starting to move online, so the decisions of what constitutes a classic could change dramatically as institutions of learning change. And you’re right that we really don’t know what the difference in accessibility or any other changes might have on how we view the question of what a classic is. Very thought provoking comment- thank you!

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  10. My bias for sci-fi is probably showing here, but I think books like Ready Player One and The Martian will become “classics” in that people will still be reading and talking about these books 10-20 years from now, just because they really broke the mold and were fresh and very different when they came out. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking because I love those books, but I hope I’m right 🙂

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  11. I totally agree with you on Tolkien’s works being so underrated because they are ‘just’ fantasy. The Hobbit and LOTR definitely deserve a place among classics.

    That being said, this is a great list! I have been wanting to read Memoirs of a Geisha forever because I loved the film and I was told that the book is much better than the film. And now that I know it has potential to be considered a classic in 2200 (or perhaps later lol) I will have to go and read it 🙂

    One of my favourite books is Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, and I think it has everything to be considered a classic by future academics: it is a tangled, innovative narrative, the writing style is very good (in as much as foreseeing how English will be spoken in the future), and it deals with profound issues that have affected or will affect the future of mankind, such as slavery or environmental hazards. It can be a hard read (or at least it was for me, perhaps because English is not my native tongue and I struggled with some parts of the book) and that’s something that some academics seem to cherish in a book. But it is well worth the effort, IMO.

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    1. Yeah I really agree with you- luckily at my uni they were considered as such, but I know lots don’t.

      Thank you very much! I’m really glad you want to read it 😊 hehehe yeah (I’d love it if all of these were looked back on as classics in 2200 lol 😉 )

      Oh that makes a lot of sense- I’ve heard fantastic things about it as well- I just haven’t read it yet! But you make an excellent case for it! 😊 I’m really glad it’s worth the effort and I definitely want to give it a go!

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  12. ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ by Peter Carey is a masterpiece that would happily join your list. I also love Margaret Attwood’s books, and I can’t understand why she hasn’t won the Nobel yet. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is already a classic of course, but I also adore ‘The Blind Assassin’.

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    1. Oh cool- I haven’t read that yet, but would happily check it out. Fair point about Atwood- I didn’t include her cos she’s not to my personal taste, but I can see why she would end up in this category.

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  13. A food for thought – thanks! I guess it all depends how we define classics and what is the time-frame for the search 🙂 The first on my list would be “A Canticle for Leibowitz” but I’m not sure whether it’s not considered a classic already! 😉 I fully agree with your positioning of Gaiman (though I’d probably go with “American Gods”) and Ishiguro (my favorite is “The Buried Giant”), and “The Book Thief”, but I dearly hope Zafon won’t make a future classic ;). If I ever borrowed Bookstooge’s Surviving a Bad Book meme, “The Shadow of the Wind” would make the opening post ;).

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  14. I definitely agree that The Book Thief will be a future classic and I think it would be so fun to study in school because there is so much in there and one of its main messages is about the power of words which is such a key aspect of literature! I think The Hunger Games is a really interesting book because its currently studied in schools (in the UK at least) and I studied it as part of one of my university modules so its interesting to wonder whether that will still be around taught in the future when its not so current. Such a fun topic to think about! 🙂

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    1. Yeah I so agree with you! And I definitely think it’d be great to study!! Oh yeah I really love Hunger Games- I’m on the fence about how much people would study it at higher levels, but yeah I know it’s studied in schools (and I think there’s a potential there for it to be studied at uni- I just don’t know if they would- I think it might be on some children’s lit syllabuses already). Thank you! 🙂

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  15. Awesome list! I loooved A Thousand Splendid Suns (I legit ugly-cried with this one), The Book Thief (oh hell yeah this is going to be a classic), and Shadow of the Wind (it really has that timeless feel). I’m glad you included the books you feel are worthy of the title of being a classic; many people defend books just because they’re popular and have stood the test of time, but more light and prestige should be showered on good books that haven’t. Terrific post!!

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  16. This is a great list! And I actually plan on using both A Thousand Splendid Suns (or The Kite Runner) and The Book Thief in my classes in the future. I teach English as foreign language, so I have to wait until I get last-year high school classes so they will get everything that’s going on.
    It’s always interesting to me to see what other bloggers think will become ‘classics’ because I am always looking for different novels to bring to my classroom.
    Great post!

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  17. Memoirs of a Geisha, The Book Thief and Thousand Splendid Suns I totally agree. Didn’t think of Neverwhere but I can’t totally see why. It raised a huge discussion in my book club and got into the underlying themes Gaiman likes to focus on in his books like poverty. And that was just book club. Imagine what could be discussed in an academic setting. Great list!

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  18. This is such an interesting post 🙂 I think The Book Thief and Northern Lights are both books that people will be reading for a long, long time. I could see The Secret History and Perks of Being a Wallflower becoming classics as well.

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  19. I love this idea for a post (and not just because it means technically I can say I’ve read and loved some ‘Classic’ books). For the books I have read I definitely agree with your picks, part of me feels like The Book Thief is already a classic, and oh The Golden Compass is such a standout series isn’t it? Honestly I haven’t read anything like it before or since.
    Great post, and these all seem like great books (a few I even have on my to-read list)! 🙂 ❤

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    1. Thank you very much!! hehehe! Thank you- I’m glad you agree! Yeah I think a lot of people have said that about the book thief and I think that’s a fair point. It really is- I absolutely love it! Me too!
      Thank you!! Brilliant- I hope you love them if you try them out! 🙂 ❤

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    1. Ah cool! And fair enough- I’ve read some interviews from her and hear your pov, but I do still need to read the memoir. Either way, I kind of view it as a little of its own entity in some ways, but will also think its interesting to examine it from that lens.

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  20. Interesting dilemma in going academic or popular/mainstream with the choices. One could say that things like Harry Potter, Twilight or The Hunger Games or a myriad of popular authors such as King, Grisham, Patterson etc etc could one day be classics as the popularity remains high for decades already on some.

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      1. Yes, I’m sure as much as King has some around almost half a century now and still being read he wouldn’t be classroom material but still a classic in a different sense. 🙂

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  21. Neverwhere is my favourite Neil Gaiman book so I totally agree with you there. I think something like White Teeth by Zadie Smith will be seen as a snapshot of life in multicultural Britain today in the same way that Requiem for a Dream showed the gritty reality of heroin addicts in New York – and speaking of heroin addiction I think probably Trainspotting should be up there too, even though it’s a really difficult read.

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    1. I love that book too. and that’s a great choice- it’s been a really long time since I read Smith, so I would never have thought about it (and not read that yet) And I don’t know Requiem and I haven’t read Trainspotting either (I actually heard Irvine Welsh do a lecture and reading of the first few chapters- it was too dark for me) but I can definitely see why they’d be future classics too

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      1. Requiem is incredibly depressing and Trainspotting is obviously pretty bleak (although the film is great) but they’re both very authentic, original and important social commentaries. Also maybe Wolf Hall could be considered a future classic for the (weird/annoying/innovative) way that’s it written? I own it but I haven’t read it so can’t champion it too much.

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  22. I’m on a blog break and in St. Thomad, so just a quick answer. But I had to answer since it’s a fantastic post. This semester I taught an interpreting literature class and I taught 7 novels, Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go was one of them, so I do agree with your pick. The Book Thief too. I’m teaching another class in the fall and Gaiman is on my syllabus for it. Some professors, as in my case really have the privilege of choosing what we want to teach in an academic setting

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    1. Oops, dropped my phone..anyway was going to say we get to choose the books we think of as classics. I know some uni are sticklers and some classes as well with curriculum, which is why I’m thoroughly enjoying teaching contemporary lit and interpreting lit (based on multiculural works)since I can have my own input into what I think is literary and will be worth analyzing. Sorry..short post turned long!! Great picks and post!! 😊💜 I’m off to enjoy my cruise! 🛥🏝🍹

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        1. Sorry to be just replying..I just got back yesterday! I have a lot to catch up on! Yes, it’s fabulous! It will be 17 yrs that I have been teaching in August, but it’s only been in the last 4-5 years that we’ve been able to be more flexible with some of our book choices (obviously not in British Lit or American Lit at lower uni levels; those are still Norton dominated). Teaching Contemporary lit and Interpreting lit, which I taught for the 1st time this semester and was the class I taught Never Let Me Go, gives me so much flexibility in picking the books that I want to teach, and I love it! Really such a great post 🙂

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  23. The Book Thief – YESSSSS SO MUCH YESSS. And Kite Runner is definitely one, too. I still haven’t finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, but if it’s nearly as good, I also agree on that count. Btw, did you know that Markus Zusak has an upcoming novel in October? It’s called Bridge of Clay!

    If I made my own list of modern classics, I’d list Call Me By Your Name as one 😊😊😊

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