Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Bingo and Classics
It's September - that means it's time to get ready for the reading challenge at the library. Last year we had our first Take-A-Chance Challenge, based on the original by Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here. I expected a dozen participants, so when the total topped out at around 65, I considered that an overwhelming success. Patrons have been anticipating the next challenge, so here it is - and you can play along.
From Oct. 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011, we will be playing Take-a-Chance Bingo. Each patron receives a standard 5X5 bingo card containing 25 different book categories - romance, mystery, 2010 bestsellers, staff recommendations, Kansas authors, foreign setting, etc. Reading five books, one from each category in a row, makes a BINGO and earns a prize. A blackout - reading all 25 categories - earns a larger prize plus immunity from library fines for 1 year. Sorry, I can't mail out prizes to all of you, but if you want to play along, I would be glad to e-mail you a bingo card. Or feel free to adapt this idea for use in your own library, family, book club, cell block...
Creating the bingo cards brought up a topic which has long been pondered by librarians, authors and other book-types: What makes a book a classic? One of the categories on the cards is "read a classic", but when I tried to compile a suggested reading list, I began to question the "classic" definition of "classic". Naturally, every list I could find included familiar names like Bronte, Dickins and Alcott, plus some 20th century standards - To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye - but what about newer books? If an author is still living and publishing, can his work be considered a classic? What about Stephen King's The Shining? Or Erich Segal's Love Story? Mystery books rarely make the "Best of..." lists, but I consider the works of Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout to all be classics. The final installment of Robert B. Parker's Spenser series will be released this month, but can his early Spenser adventures be considered classic? Is an author whose name or book titles are household words necessarily a creator of classic literature?
For the purposes of our library challenge, which are to encourage reading and introduce our patrons to new authors/genres, I am adopting a very wide interpretation of what constitutes a classic. That book you've "always wanted to read, but never did" will probably qualify. Help me out - give me your opinions and criteria for ranking a novel as a classic.