Classics: Then and Now

Is Harry Potter the next classic novel?


Photo by Becky Weber

Most people know the classics: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Count of Monte Cristo, 1984, A Tale of Two Cities, and Huck Finn. Many popular book series today could join that list in the future.

In a recent interview with Mrs. Jeri Albrecht, Bingham’s librarian, she gave a personal definition of a classic: “It’s well written, has a storyline that lasts throughout time, it’s well read, and strikes a chord with society.”

That definition can fit many popular book series today, but Albrecht believes that the definition of a classic will be changed. Even though a book might not be particularly well written, they’re still widely popular because they have a great storyline and they’re exciting to read.

When asked about what books she thinks will become classics, she said, “Harry Potter because J.K. Rowling spurred interest in reading, opened doors for YA fiction, and her books are widely read.” She also said that books by Rick Riordan and Brandon Sanderson have the potential to become classics. These books share a common genre: fantasy of some sort or another, whether it be wizards or mythology. The fantasy genre has become extremely popular with this generation.

Another popular genre is realism; Albrecht said that she thinks many books of this genre will also become classics. She also said, “I hope they [the books] develop empathy [in the readers].”

According to The Guardian, for classics to be considered classics “it can’t just be that it’s old. A classic must have something else, something that has either caused it to endure or has, in the case of modern classics, inspired the faith that it will do so. And while parts of any book may date, there must be something about a true classic that remains relevant to children and adults alike across the generations.”

So what about these books has society decided is going to make them classics? What is going to stick with generations to come?

Albrecht’s answer is that these books “spark imagination and give kids the idea of good vs. evil.” These potential classics can allow kids to see the world from a different viewpoint. Showing them that yes, there is evil in this world, but there’s good too. They just have to go and find it. They have to be like the characters in their favorite books and go on an adventure and discover who they are.

Classic novels transcend time and they’ll continue to do that in the future with the books of today.