I love books, and I’ve read enough of them to know that some books are meant to be read for years and years to come. These are the future classics. These are the books that might end up in school curricula down the line. These are the books that everyone – EVERYONE – should be reading.
Also, a caveat – I didn’t include the Harry Potter series because I already consider them to be modern classics/books everyone should read. So these are 5 BESIDES Harry Potter.
Here we go. Keep up (and go get these books, seriously).
5. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
I first heard of these books in December of 2010—I distinctly remember that because I was required to read The Hunger Games (but not the sequels) for a creative writing class in my last semester of college. We read the first book as an example of how to make a plot stretch out for an entire novel and for insight into where in the book the action should take place. It was fascinating to take it apart like that, and I always think of that structure now when I am both reading and writing. But now, when I look at the trilogy as a whole, I think of what it meant to me at the different times I’ve reread the books. There are so many layers in a seemingly straightforward story that it would make for great discussion, especially in our turbulent political times. I wouldn’t be shocked if this is already on some course syllabi, like it was on mine six years ago.
And yes, the movies are great. Jennifer Lawrence is excellent in the part. But the books are different, and better, and much more nuanced. Read the books.
4. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
This is Picoult’s most recent book, published in October of 2016. It tackles a very tricky subject—racism in America, but more importantly, institutional racism in America. It was eye-opening and heartbreaking and I think all the white people should read it. But the reason I think it can be considered a future classic is because you get both sides of one story of racism. You get to read from the perspective of both a professional black woman and a rough white supremacist. It’s fascinating, and it would spawn very interesting discussions.
Also! It is becoming a movie! With Julia Roberts and Viola Davis! Ahhh!!
3. You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
As far as memoirs and books of essays go, this is probably the best I’ve read so far. Phoebe Robinson is a comedian, so her approach to the tough issues of racism and feminism and other topics is funny first. It’s that humor that lets the message get past the barriers that people put up to protect themselves from having to think about things that they don’t want to be bothered with. I could see her getting under people’s skin, but in a good way. In a way that opens them up to actually read the message she’s trying to convey. I want this to be read by everyone. I want everyone to be affected by her.
2. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
So. As I’m writing this, I know that Adichie made some comments that sounded… well. Problematic, we’ll say. I don’t want to get into that in this space. But this is my way of acknowledging that this particular fave is problematic. But that doesn’t stop me from believing that this is going to become a classic.
So this is based on a TedTalk that Adichie gave in London several years ago. What I loved most about it (and why I think it’s going to become a classic) is that most of the book is reasons that men should also be feminists. Really, it’s reasons that everyone should be a feminist, hence the title of the essay. It’s a good outline, a primer, you could say, on why it’s important for the world to change. It’s already starting to get included on syllabi, and since it’s such a short, quick read, I could definitely see it ending up on more. It’s a good read, I promise. It will get you fired up.
I will acknowledge that trans people and nonbinary people are largely (entirely?) excluded from the narrative. I would argue that everything also applies to them, but it would have been nice (read: better) if everyone had been included from the get-go.
1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Like. You had to know that this was going to be number one on this list, right? You had to know that. Because it was so good that it makes my insides hurt. And it was so real that my eyes were leaking. The Hate U Give is based on the Black Lives Matter movement and is written so SO well. The main character witnesses one of her best friends being murdered by a police officer and then becomes one of those unnamed witnesses you hear about on the news. She has to choose between protecting herself and her family and getting the truth out there. It’s heartbreaking and relevant and easily one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s so good. I follow the author on social media, and I’ve noticed that the book is already getting added to college syllabi, and GOSH I hope that trend continues. Everyone needs to read this book. It was a classic the day it was released. It’s just so good.
These are books that I have read that I think will be future classics. Do you agree? Are there some that I’ve missed? I’m curious to read other opinions on this one. Comment below or get in touch with me on social media so we can chat about it!