Any "modern" novels being used in English Lit classes

I was reading the Cliff’s Notes thread and was wondering what the current status of English Lit classes.

Are they still using the old, ah, “classsics”? Are there any novels written in the last 30 years being used? You know, something somebody actually WANTS to read (and not just by insomniacs)?

High school, or college?

I read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison in 10th or 11th grade.

almost all of toni morrisons books are standard fare, as well as amy tan’s. “Artist of the Floating World” is another popular modern book being used quite often…i forget the authors name…sorry

In my freshman year, we did “Slaughterhouse Five,” which I enjoyed quite a bit.

In my freshman year, we did “Slaughterhouse Five,” which I enjoyed quite a bit.

In my freshmen college lit class we’re using Russell Rowland’s “In Open Spaces,” published in 2002, as our primary novel.

I use Gregory Maguire’s Wicked quite often.

Uh, let’s see…last thirty years…does John Gardner’s Grendel fall in that time frame? I’ve recently moved and haven’t unpacked the books yet, so I can’t do a quick check.

In my high school lit classes we did Toni Morrison (who I fucking despise), Jack Karouac (does he count?), Neal Stephenson, Stephen King (only some of his short stories though), and some other people I’ve long since forgotten.

I read The Color Purple in high school. Couldn’t stand it.

The Things They Carried is a popular one.

We did Slaughterhouse Five (which I enjoyed) and A Hundred Years of Solitude.

Kazuo Ishiguru - also wrote “Remains of the Day”

I have also heard that “The Things They Carried” is getting read in schools, which is great - a wonderful book.

Is Neal Stephenson really being assigned in school? Which book - Snow Crash?

We read The Diamond Age, actually. I was pretty psyched. Most of the students didn’t understand what a Turing Machine was, though. :slight_smile:

That particular class had a whole section spent on science fiction; we also read some Asimov and Jules Verne too.

In any class on post-colonial literature, the majority of the books given are from the last 30 years. Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children is standard fare, and less-uptight schools might assign the superior The Satanic Verses. The output of Nadine Gordimer and recent Nobel-laureate Coetzee are very recent.


When I had to retake my frehman year HS class, we read The Shining.

I read Portnoy’s Complaint in a college lit class.

I read Portnoy’s Complaint in a college lit class.

Does Lord of the Flies count? Great amusement from a certain high school English teacher of my acquaintance on the essays they wrote. “Jack is just straight crazy”.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
Six Feet Of The Country, Nadine Gordimer
The End Of The World News, Anthony Burgess
Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban

(although the last two were optional rather than compulsory)

Contemporary Novels class I took in the early '90s as a post-graduate (dates are IIRC and approximate):

Briefing for a Descent into Hell - Doris Lessing (early 1970s)
If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler … - Italo Calvino (late 70s, early 80s)
The Falconer - John Cheever (mid 70s)
The Dean’s December - Saul Bellow (early 80s)
A Month of Sundays - John Updike (early 80s)
The Last Gentleman - Walker Percy (early 60s)
The Human Factor - Graham Greene (mid 70s)

Lastly, The Fall (1950s) by Albert Camus was the oldest book we read in that class.