Blog post written by guest blogger Mark Pfannestiel
This year the Milwood Branch Library began the Milwood Classic Hits Book Club. It is a book club that focuses on modern classics (roughly 1900-1970) that are also less than 280 pages. A list of books to choose from has been created and every month we vote on the next book to read. Our goal is to read good books that never go out of style. Suggestions for books are also welcome as long as they closely relate to the main guidelines of length and being thought of as a classic.
Whether or not a book is a classic is subjective and debatable. I encourage those interested in a definition to read “Why Read the Classics?” by Italo Calvino. It is a short article written for “The New York Review of Books” in 1986. His final (and most appropriate for the purposes of a book club) definition is: “A classic is something that persists as a background noise even when the most incompatible momentary concerns are in control of the situation.” In other words, you can’t stop thinking about it. For the purposes of this book club we also want to make sure that the book is old enough to have found a place for itself in contemporary culture.
The classics we want to read are those that have a tendency to make themselves known again and again because they hold a special place in our collective memory. For example, the horrible terrorist attacks of November 2015 in Paris led to a resurgence in sales for A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. The book is often thought of as Hemingway’s love letter to Paris, and the people of France bought it to show defiance in the face of the attacks. For one reason or another, sales of 1984 by George Orwell spiked during the first few months of 2017. Fiction or non-fiction, there are stories that we can attach to moments long after their publication. These are the books we want to read and reread.
So, please join us once a month for a fun discussion of classic novels. We meet on the fourth Monday of every month from 7 PM to 8:30 PM at the Milwood Branch.