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Behind the Bookshelf: Classics & Modern Classics

Post by Cathleen Keyser
Posted September 06, 2013 in NoveList Plus, NoveList Select, Readers' Advisory News

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New Genre Headings: Classics and Modern Classics

Were you that kid in Honors English class whose life was changed by reading James Joyce? Or were you the one in the back of the class who just didn't care about Ahab and that stupid whale? Either way, we have two new headings that are going to help find the books you love or avoid the books you dislike: Classics and Modern Classics!

In addition to helping you find (or avoid) these classic works of literature, the addition of these two genres will also generate better recommendations and add some clarity to our older titles.

For a  work to be designated a classic, it must demonstrate qualities that resonate with a contemporary audience and have a continued readership. These titles have stood the test of time. Since a Dickens novel is very different from a Nabokov, we're differentiating between the two headings based on the time period in which the books were written. “Classics” is used to describe works of fiction written during or prior to World War I. “Modern Classics” is used for works written after WWI. You may notice that we have included some 20th century genre fiction in our Modern Classics heading. These books have to have a wide crossover appeal -- like Animal Farm or 1984 -- rather than being just a classic in their genre (like Dune or H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories).

Right now, Classics and Modern Classics are fiction-only headings (apologies to Walden and Thoreau) and we currently have these headings on over 1,200 books.

To find them, use the Advanced Search box and search for Classics or Modern Classics in Genre (GN).