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The Next Better Reading Book Club Is… Classics

May 4, 2017

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Classics Book Club Lifestyle2[1]

‘A classic is a book which with each rereading offers as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading.’ – Italo Calvino

Our next Better Reading Live Book Club is on Wednesday, 31 May at the usual time, 8pm (AEST), on our Facebook page.

Can you believe it’s a been over a year since we started this groundbreaking live book club?

This is an extra special book club in many ways – instead of reading one particular book, we’re going to look at favourite classic books in general.

We invite you to let us know your favourite classic books and let us know what ‘classic’ means to you.

We’ll let you know some of ours and the panel will discuss what makes a classic and talk about their favourites. Joining the lively conversation are very special guests Rebecca Huntley, whose list of favourite classics inspired this book club, as well as the brilliant Caroline Overington. They will discuss their favourite classics with Cheryl Akle, who is hosting the night.

One Hundred Years of SolitudeA classic might be a really old favourite – Wuthering Heights, War and Peace, The Odyssey – or it might be something more modern. Think One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or those dystopian classics that have withstood the test of time such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or George Orwell’s 1984. But at what point can we declare a more modern book a classic? Is Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple a classic? Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love? Or consider modern Australian classics – Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda, Shirley Hazzard’s The Transit of Venus, Geraldine Brooks’ March? What makes a classic anyway?

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments here or in the Facebook post and we’ll discuss some of these book and ideas at our next book club.

Here are some thoughts from the Better Reading staff on what classic means to them:

Liz Durnan: ‘When I think of a classic book I instantly think of my favourite books from the far past – Dickens’ David Copperfield, Austen’s Persuasion, Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. Of course there are so many modern classics too. I think of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, A.S. Byatt’s Possession, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. But are these old enough to be declared classics?’

067 The Secret History_stickeredJack Stanton: ‘When I worked in a bookstore we categorised a book as a ‘classic’ or ‘literature’ if it had been written before the end of the Second World War. That definition, although arbitrary, does work. But we are approaching a new generation of classic writers and need to decide how to best define them. What is the new criteria for a classic? Especially considering the advent of film as the mainstream’s favoured way to critique society, do our expectations of what defines a classic novel change?’

 ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is without a doubt my favourite classic. Marquez’ Magic Realism masterpiece is the best novel ever written. There are so many clever things about it but I think above all it is supremely entertaining and imaginative. A book like no other.’

So please let us know your favourite classic novels and tune in to hear the discussion on the Better Reading Live Book Club Wednesday 31 May at 8pm Eastern Standard time. Click on the link below to join us in person on the night…

Follow this link to join our live audience on the night

Further Reading:

Brain Pickings: Italo Calvino’s 14 Definitions of a Classic



  1. Tamara

    For me when I think of favourite classics, I think about The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien.

  2. Donna

    Like most, I tend to think of classics as older books…Austen, Bronte etc. But the question I have is where does that leave the great books like To Kill a Mockingbird and other ‘modern’ stories? My absolute favourite classic is definitely Persuasion…

  3. Sara

    Classics can be old and yet remain relevant or new but promise to stand up to re-reading over time. They may also depict excellence in a genre or the best of an author. They are the books I keep on my shelf rather than pass on after reading. Literature on the other hand defines a time period for me, and forms a historical record in fictional form.

  4. Tammy

    Classics need not be thought of as dense and difficult, adult or academic. How many special books from childhood are there? Black Beauty, The secret garden, Blitzcat, Tom’s midnight garden, Storm Boy, The wind in the willows, Watership Down, The five children and “it”. Dr. Seuss, Andersen’s fairy tales, Tintin. Is Harry Potter classic already? Yes, I think so.

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