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Members' Chat > Enduring Classics

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message 1: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
As should surprise exactly no one, part of my barbecue this weekend featured a book discussion. Someone asked which, if any, classics have stood the test of time in our opinion--not just "good for its age" but what books are just categorically enjoyable/meaningful to read despite the time since publication?

Which classics still mean something to you, personally?

(Classics can include the "high school" classics like Slaughterhouse-Five, even though they're not very old)

message 2: by CBRetriever (new)

CBRetriever | 4627 comments The Lord of the Rings still works
as does The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
and Dune

message 3: by Trike (new)

Trike The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. It doesn’t hurt that some of the things he predicted have come true, or nearly did.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I suspect this will last for centuries.

message 4: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 2526 comments Jules Verne's works, Asimov and PKD's short stories. Le Guin's The Dispossessed is a recent fave classic.
Been a while since I read Heinlein, but I remember liking Starship Troopers.

message 5: by Jen (new)

Jen (jenlb) | 174 comments Frank Herbert's Dune books. Dan Simmons' Hyperion. I wouldn't be too surprised if the Culture series lasts for quite a while. A lot of Harlan Ellison's short stories, and his Dangerous Visions is an astounding picture of SF at the beginning of the New Wave.

I find Heinlein to be very interesting to read as part of a history of the field, but I don't find that the books have aged well at all.

message 6: by Gary (new)

Gary (plaidchuck) | 55 comments Bradbury, especially Illustrated Man. it's a shame in the mainstream he only gets attention for Fahrenheit 451.

message 7: by Al (new)

Al Philipson (printersdevil) | 94 comments I've got to agree with Dune and anything by Heinlein. The last time I read Verne was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and it bored me to death. I still like E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series.

message 8: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 2287 comments Clifford D. Simak's Way Station has held up well, some of his others, too.

Frankenstein, because I say that something this incredibly influential must be read in the original once in every reader's lifetime... even though it's not to everyone's taste.

Much of H.G. Wells's work, but maybe not Time Machine.

Bradbury, yes, many but not all... ditto Asimov and Clarke.

The Hobbit... LotR is optional.

Agreed on Flowers for Algernon.

I could not read Dune when I tried years ago and have no interest in trying again.

Heinlein, no, def. product of his times. When I was a naive teen they were great... tg I've grown.

Verne is optional, only for fans who can not fret about the racism, sexism, etc.

Burroughs, Stapledon, etc., definitely optional for fans of early SF, not recommended for casual readers.

message 9: by Kateb (new)

Kateb | 893 comments Clifford D Simak has a lot of good books eg way station, Goblins reservation. Heinlein only because some of his ideas were original eg stranger in a strange land, glory road. Asimov always, Feist , Some Clarke, again because he came out with some original ideas. Enders game, FLowers for Algernon of course. Dune the first book yes, Doc Smith .

So many different ideas . Of course they have the problems of their times in sexism , racism etc but it was the essential storyline that was what was interesting

message 10: by Jordan (new)

Jordan (justiceofkalr) | 395 comments Bradbury and Asimov are still very readable to me despite their age, and they rank among my favorite authors. Tolkien definitely as well. Heinlein I do enjoy some, but he often feels a lot more dated, painfully so sometimes. Both Wells and Verne I've really disliked what I've read of them because they just feel musty and old in their writing style. All the lists of fish in 20,000 leagues nearly killed me. PKD stories generally seem to hold up well for me.

Some of the older Hugo winners that I've slogged through, which I guess could be defined as classics for winning the award, have definitely not stood up well.

I find that I'm generally more accepting of outdated technology and ideas in books than I am of outdated social attitudes in older books.

message 11: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 2287 comments Jordan wrote: "I find that I'm generally more accepting of outdated technology and ideas in books than I am of outdated social attitudes in older books. ."

Hear hear. There have *always* been people able to think into the future and imagine a world in which racism, for example, would be either much more of an issue, or much less of one. For a writer of speculative fiction to just be a mirror for his own times, his own context, is not only unacceptable but uninteresting.

message 12: by Justin (new)

Justin Harber | 6 comments I'll echo what some of the other contributors have said in that Dune (but not the sequels in my mind) and Tolkien are still a pleasure to read and have maintained a very stable shelf life since publication. For Tolkien, the Hobbit and LOTR are certainly treasures in their own right, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the Silmarillion and the Children of Hurin. If the LOTR is a single football game, the Silmarillion felt like it spanned an entire season. While reading the Silmarillion I discovered that Sauron was a servant of Melkor. For me, that was a forehead slapping moment and led to a deeper appreciation of the richness and depth of Tolkien's imagination.

I'd also elevate Robert Howard's Conan stories into the pantheon of still enjoyable works nearly a century after their publication. These are classic adventure stories that are a sheer pleasure to read. The misogyny and racism leave one wincing, but I try to remind myself to place Howard's writing into their historic context. These stories are a great mental break if you've just finished reading something heavier.

message 13: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 2287 comments Not to attack you personally, Justin, but your comment about 'historic context' is the straw that is breaking this camel's back.

The suffragists and Huckleberry Finn predate Conan but not by much. Iow, there is contemporary precedence for an author to know better than to permit his work to be sexist or racist. But then, the author was not strong, himself, according to the results of a quick Wiki search:

"Howard’s suicide [at age 30] and the circumstances surrounding it have led to speculation about his mental health. His mother had been ill with tuberculosis his entire life, and upon learning she had entered a coma from which she was not expected to wake, he walked out to his car and shot himself in the head."

Women's and minorities contributions have been overlooked for millenia. By promoting stuff like Conan, people are contributing to further burying accomplishments by myriad people that are seldom heard from except during Black History Month and Women's History month. If you want adventure, read about Beryl Markham.

Moreover, people who advocate for Conan, Heinlein, etc. are disrespecting *men* who aren't interested in being all macho. I'm not necessarily saying that Heinlein should have included homosexuals in his book, but why couldn't the men have done some of the cooking or childcare? They have to focus on their studies and their heroics, but the women get to be sexy, smart, *and* good cooks & breeders. Wtf?

I love me some classic SF (I'm in this group, ain't I?) but not indiscriminately.

message 14: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 2287 comments Oh, I should add, the second to last straw that weakened my resolve not to rant was Heinlein. For some reason I have a paper copy of Assignment in Eternity on my shelf so I decided to read. Ridiculous and nauseating.

message 15: by Kateb (new)

Kateb | 893 comments But this thread was about classic books, and although I sorry point in history, most if these books were written by men.

then we have Frankenstein, Sara Douglas, John Wyndham wrote about strong women and I still enjoy many of his books

message 16: by Jan (new)

Jan (jan130) | 314 comments Dune, The Dispossessed, Grass, are some that have stood the test of time for me.

Fantasy - Tolkien and Leguin.

message 17: by Donald (new)

Donald | 240 comments Gary wrote: "Bradbury, especially Illustrated Man. it's a shame in the mainstream he only gets attention for Fahrenheit 451."

I've just been reading Illustrated Man. It definitely holds up well, even if some of the dates are now dated.

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