Jun 03

A few follow-ups. What makes a classic a classic? And we recommend Marbles by Ellen Forney and My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff. 

A Few Follow-ups

We’ve had a wonderful response to BOTNS Bingo. If you haven’t printed your card out yet, check out our original post for instructions, and the link to get your own card.

Ann received a comment about her audiobook recommendation last week. It was a book that featured violence toward women and the commenter mentioned the unfortunate timing with the Santa Barbara shootings. It made us wonder about the difference between violence shown on TV and in the movies, and that portrayed in books. Ann found an interesting article about women who read violent crime fiction. It’s a thorny subject to be sure, but one we will try to be more cognizant of in the future.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (10:43)

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, narrated by Jayne Entwistle, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. Here’s a link to all of Alan Bradley’s books on Audiobooks.com.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

What Makes a Classic a Classic? (13:37)

Shiney, via Twitter, asked what makes a classic classic. There are obviously many different ways to define a classic. Many books that are in the public domain (copyright has expired) are classics, as are the books most often assigned in classes. Some books are a classic work of a certain genre, like 1984 is for dystopia. (Of course, 1984 is widely believed to have been inspired by Russian novel called We – so is that a classic too?) Because of the vast number of books published these days, is it harder for something to become a classic? In fifty years, it’s likely Harry Potter will be considered a classic, but can the same be said of Wonder, or The Fault in Our Stars? It seems that only time will tell.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (26:02)

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I recommend Marbles, by Ellen Forney. Subtitled “Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me” this graphic memoir is an honest, raw, and funny look the author/artist’s bipolar disorder diagnosis, her struggles with medication, and what that did to her artistic drive and abilities.

Ann recommends My Salinger Year, by Joanna Rakoff, which chronicles the author’s time working for a literary agent, during which she clandestinely responded (as herself) to fans who had written J.D. Salinger. It’s a wonderful look at publishing in the 90’s.

  • Carol Kubala

    I’m one of those crime reading women, both fiction and non-fiction. I’m not quite certain what I find appealing about these but do know the psychological aspects, the getting in the mind of the criminal and finding and bringing to justice of the same are interesting to me. I do find some far too descriptive and not always necessary. When it’s too much I just stop reading. I don’t care for gratuitous violence (what’s that?) defined in my own mind. I have stopped reading one author who I think is guilty of this.
    In the article Ann links to the book Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterson is mentioned. It was a favorite of mine. I really liked the female lead, Ex-FBI Agent Brigid Quinn. Though it’s violent, I found myself along for the ride no matter what,
    eyes wide open and speeding to its finish. Smart dialogue, real flawed
    characters, with just a touch of humor, love and caring keeps it from
    being too depressing.

  • snowflake

    Would you consider “The Giver” or some Toni Morrison novels classics? I feel like these are more contemporary, yet are still very well known after many years and are taught in schools as great literary works. I agree there is no real definition of a classic, just surprised these weren’t brought up as they seem on that line of being “old enough” to be a classic vs. modern classic vs. too soon to tell.

  • kalenski

    To Michael’s question about We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, it is definitely a classic and is read by every student taking a college Russian lit class. It is seen as classic of dystopian lit and is widely credited as having influence Orwell.

    Rather than The Goldfinch, I think The Secret History stands a very good chance of becoming a classic. I read it when it first came out and it’s heartening to see that every few years it bubbles up to the surface again and a new generation of readers gets to experience it.

  • Chris K.

    What is a classic? This is an interesting question. I run a classics book club at work (public library) and I struggle all the time about what to include on our to read list. Generally, in our group, the book has to be published in the early ’60s or before and is Western canon. We’ve read both To Kill a Mockingbird (pub’d 1960) and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (pub’d 1962). I usually look to Modern Library or school reading lists to try to find titles. The criteria Michael found online is the same that I found when searched for an answer. I gave it to my group because sometimes after reading a book, we ask ourselves: Why is this a classic?

  • exordik

    Really? You’re aplogizing for that? Art should face no morality in censorship, because who is the judge. My bipolar grandma recently killed herself and for you to mention that comic is insensitive. ( Oh, you didnt know? Well I didnt know about that shooting). This over sensitivity ia really only censorship and moral dominance in disgusie.

    • Steven

      THANK YOU!

  • Wesley Weyers

    Time is thee only measure of a classic. Sadly we will never know the greats in our life time. Loads of great writer who will not know about until they are dead, think of Kafka. http://tolstoystophat.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Beth Paschal

    Just finished my first graphic novel in a long time. Marbles was a super read -a very brave project. I imagine a great resource too for those with personal questions. And I could read it in a weekend. Thanks, Michael -I’ll be hunting down more graphic novels now.

  • Love Life

    I listened to the 6/3 podcast today (I’m behind!) I don’t think you should feel obligated to apologize about the timing of your crime reading comments…the first thing you learn as an English major is that people read to make sense of the world around them. If crime fiction/non-fiction is so popular, could it be that our world is going a bit crazy and crime readers are just trying to make sense of it?

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