Was the 1960’s the end of books with a true proper meaning?

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.pbh2.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/teaching-parenting-1960s-2010s.png

In my opinion the 1960’s were a miracle decade. Although I wasn’t born until the late 1970’s, when I look, listen and read back to that decade it fills me with a sense I was born too late.

I would have preferred to have been a teenager in the 1960’s. The Era of Free Love, when kids were being told to “Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out” and when people needed to “Discover Themselves” led to a decade of free thinkers and  revolutionaries.

The music that came from that period was ground-breaking. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Motown dominated the chart. Blues and Soul in combination with pop and the beginnings of rock made a record collection a work of wonders.

Songs were of protest, meaning and optimism.

I decided to look back at literature from the period, and correlate that with current literature to see if any parallels can be found between music and books.

First of all music. I searched for the top 10 songs according to Rolling Stone, where the best songs for the 1960s and the 21st century.

Top 10 Songs 1960s

Top 10 Songs 21st Century

1. Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan

2. A Day In The Life – The Beatles

3. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones

4. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones5. My Generation – The Who

6. Light My Fire – The Doors

7. Hey Jude – The Beatles

8. Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin

9. All Along The Watchtower – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

10. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

1.Crazy – Gnarls Barkley

2. 99 Problems – Jay-Z

3. Crazy in Love – Beyoncé

4. Hay Ya – Outkast

5. Paper Planes – M.I.A.

6. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

7. Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

8. Rehab – Amy Winehouse

9. Beautiful Day – U2

10. Stan – Eminem

I may be biased towards the 1960’s, but in my music collection you will find every one of the 1960s songs, but only two of the 21st century songs.

To look at books I went to Goodreads and looked for the top rated books published in the 1960s and then the top books published in the 21st Century. Here are the results:

Top Books 1960’s

Top Books 21st Century

1. To Kill a Mockingbird

2. The Outsiders

3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo Next

4. Charlie and the Chocolate factory

5. A Wrinkle in Time

6. Where The Wild Things Are

7. Green Eggs and Ham

8. Slaughterhouse-Five

9. Catch-22

10. One Hundred Years of Solitude

1. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows

2. The Kite Runner

3. The Time Travellers Wife

4. Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince

5. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire

6. The Hunger Games

7. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix

8. Twilight

9. A Thousand Splendid Summers

10. Water for Elephants

The first thing that came to me, was that there appeared to have many more books with true proper meaning from the 1960’s than current day.

Looking further down the 1960s list you get more books with a meaning, such as A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

If we compare to the top books of the 21st Century we find it heavily populated with Young Adult Fiction, Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson and others. While these books can have meaning, they would certainly not compare to Catch-22 or Slaughterhouse-Five.

So have we stopped protesting about the evils of life?

In a society which is politically correct to the ultimate degree, when blackboards are chalkboards, and a fireman is a fire-fighter are we scared that we may upset people?

Is life getting too easy?

My father regularly told me that he was beaten in school and it did him no harm. I was too young to be beaten in school, but not too young that if I misbehaved a neighbour or friends parents were not above a slap around the head. And if I told my father his reply would be “Well you must have deserved it!”

Is Society too soft?

Nursery Nurses are not allowed to cuddle a small child that has fallen over in case a compliant is made, and certainly not allowed to bounce a baby on their knee. Kids are not scared of the police, and are more likely to swear at them, knowing they cannot touch them, and parents do not seem to care (I know this is a sweeping generalization, however the type of kids that would do that, have parents like that. My kids would not behave that way because they know I WOULD care)

And what I would see as the Ultimate question.

Are we too selfish to care anymore?

Vietnam was the most heavily protested War in history; there were rallies, marches and lobbying every day to call an end to the war.

Most of the first world countries (UK, USA, France, Germany, Australia Etc.) are currently involved in a war in Afghanistan, but yet while people think that is a wrong thing, are they actively doing anything to stop it?

Ashamedly I include myself in that as I have done very little regarding the conflict.

So is this being reflected in our literature?

Are we too selfish to read books with true meaning? Do we want a book that tells us a story and that is enough? Are adults taking an easy route and reading children’s books? Are writers scared to write on a controversial topic? are we scared of upsetting people?

Thoughts?

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under General

9 responses to “Was the 1960’s the end of books with a true proper meaning?

  1. Exceptional post! You will only find 2 songs from the 21st century in my playlist as well 🙂 My nephew is currently in Grade 9 and one night while doing his homework, my sister had asked him to read aloud (she wanted to make sure he wasn’t just staring at the page). He started to read and while doing so, he recited the “F-word” roughly 5-7 times. He was of course told to stop (he has younger sisters), but he then told my sister that he was just reading what was in the book.

    In disbelief my sister grabbed the book and sure enough he was telling the truth. For his Grade 9 ISU, they have been given Kung-Fu High School (I think that’s the title). My sister has told me it is about gangs and kids who create this neck piece to avoid getting stabbed.

    Sure there might be a deep meaning, but is this seriously what our teachers our handing our youth to educate them in English class? When I was in Grade 9 we studied To Kill A Mockingbird. We didn’t just read it, we studied it.

    What can we expect when this is what is handed out in our schools?!? Sorry to rant, but I was furious when she told me about this. My children are 2, I don’t even want to know what they will be reading.

    • Lynda

      Thanks for commenting.

      I am from Ireland, so do not totally understand the gradihng system, but I am assuming that he would have been about 13-14 at the time?

      I am surpirsed he was allowed a book with language like that. Not that I am an advocate for censoring books at all. I read a lot of adult books when I was that age (I was in the middle of my Stephen King phase), however schools are supposed to be places of educational excellance, and I dont think studying the classics, should be overlooked.

      Books on gangs, are incredibly important in certain areas where gangs are an issue, and I suppose to make in authentic then you can’t avoid the curse words, but I would think the author would have toned it down a bit more.

    • Lynda

      Thanks for commenting.

      I am from Ireland, so do not totally understand the gradihng system, but I am assuming that he would have been about 13-14 at the time?

      I am surpirsed he was allowed a book with language like that. Not that I am an advocate for censoring books at all. I read a lot of adult books when I was that age (I was in the middle of my Stephen King phase), however schools are supposed to be places of educational excellance, and I dont think studying the classics, should be overlooked.

      Books on gangs, are incredibly important in certain areas where gangs are an issue, and I suppose to make in authentic then you can’t avoid the curse words, but I would think the author would have toned it down a bit more.

      • Yes, he was 14 at the time. While agree about not censoring books, as I was a HUGE Stephen King fan as well, I wasn’t reading him in schools.
        Trust me they don’t live where there are gangs, it’s actually part of the school curriculum now. The sad part is if I didn’t have to read titles like To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. in school I probably would not have, yet now I can appreciate them.

      • I think in part that is the problem. at his age he is not interested int he classics.

        It is only when we grow up and mature do we start to appreciate things like that. As much as we hate it as a student, it is up to the school to force us to read things, which we will appreciate in later life, rather than pandering to our “likes”.

        Whats next? Twilight?

  2. Pingback: This Blog is Blank…. | Looking Over My Shoulder

  3. Excellent, thoughtful piece. I found it via Mark Wilson’s blog.

    I was born in 1965, and so missed most of the “good stuff” in the 1960s by virtue of being too young to take it in (except for the music). In fact, I lived a scant 30 minutes from Woodstock (!!).

    I don’t have one of the 21st century songs in my music collection, but I do have 90% of the 1960s songs. I was also stunned by the comparison of 1960s books to 21st century books; it’s quite something to see them side-by-side.

    Your post has provoked a lot of thought from me. I have a deep appreciation for that, and am sharing this with all my social networks. Thank you.

    • Ellen

      Any comment on a piece you have written is always welcome, but to know you have provoked thought in someone means you have done something right!

      Glad you liked the post, and thank you very much for sharing it other networks.

  4. Pingback: Writing: What do you listen too? | Looking Over My Shoulder

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s