Still Winning at 50!: Longevity in Literature and Film

What makes a book have that kind of longevity? For some, film or TV adaptations have managed to keep alive stories that might otherwise have become lost over the years. Others are award winners, or repeatedly taught in schools, being reintroduced to new readers every year. But all of these stories share at least one quality: they’re moving and inspiring, capturing some kind of magic that never seems to fade.

It’s rare for a book to be printed more than once, and even rarer for a story to last multiple generations. But, there are definitely certain books that we all turn to again and again, speaking to readers regardless of the era. In honor of these books with longevity, we’re looking back – 50 years back, to be exact. Here are 7 books from 1967 that readers still flock to today:

The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton

The Outsiders S.E. HintonHinton’s classic teen novel still feels fresh and modern, even though it was 50 years old as of April 24th. Maybe it’s because Hinton was a teen herself when she started writing it (she was only 18 when it was published). It tells the story of outsider teen Ponyboy, his brothers and “greaser” friends who never truly fit in with regular society. When things go horribly wrong one night with the rival “soc” gang, it puts all of them on a tragic path with far-reaching consequences. The book was turned into a movie in 1983 starring Matt Dillon and Patrick Swayze and pretty much every ‘80s heartthrob you can imagine. While the book won several awards (including the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award), so did the movie. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, it was nominated for 3 Young Artist Awards, with C. Thomas Howell winning for Best Young Actor in a Feature Film. With all of those credentials, it’s no wonder that the book – and movie – is still so popular today.

Rosemary’s Baby, Ira Levin

Rosemary's Baby Ira LevinIt’s definitely fitting that Pegasus Books is putting out a 50th anniversary addition of this iconic story. Thanks to both Levin’s classic novel and the 1968 film starring Mia Farrow, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of the demonic tale about a young housewife who gives birth to the child of Satan. It’s also one instance where the film (directed by Roman Polanski) might be just as good as the book. It was nominated for several awards, including a Best Writing Oscar nod for Polanski, and a Best Actress Golden Globe nomination for Farrow. 50 years later the story, and the book, live on.

The Chosen, Chaim Potok

The Chosen Chaim PotokThis lasting story about a deep and unlikely friendship is often taught in high schools, and for good reason. It’s about two Jewish boys in 1940’s New York, one who’s Modern Orthodox and one who’s Hasidic. The book follows their blossoming friendship, their complicated relationships with their fathers, and their shifting attitudes toward their own religions. It was also made into a movie in 1981, which was nominated for its fair share of awards. The book was on the bestseller list for 39 weeks straight, was nominated for a National Book Award and won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award – making it clear why its still so popular even 50 years after its release.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel MarquezAnother high school reading list pick, One Hundred Years of Solitude is an epic tale that helped introduce the literary world to the concept of magical realism. It’s also a gorgeous and lushly written tale that spans generations as it tells the story of the Buendia family in the fictional jungle town of Macondo. Unlike the other books on this list, Solitude has achieved its longevity solely as a work of literature – Márquez refused to ever sign away the film rights to the book. According to an Independent article, he told Harvey Weinstein that he could make the film, “but only release one chapter – two minutes long – each year, for 100 years.” Looks like we’ll just have to make do with rereading this engrossing tale over and over…as well as indulging in some fan-made trailers of a possible film:

Picnic at Hanging Rock, Joan Lindsay

Picnic at Hanging Rock Joan LindsayThe premise of Lindsay’s Australian novel is simple but disturbing – on Valentine’s Day in 1900, three girls and their teacher go missing, seeming to disappear into Hanging Rock where they’re picnicking. The women are never found, but their disappearance sends ripples of blame and fear through the entire community. The book was made into a highly acclaimed movie in 1975 that’s considered a modern classic. It won a BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, while the book is still seen as one of the most influential Australian novels ever written.

The Fox and the Hound, Daniel P. Mannix

The Fox and the Hound Daniel P. MannixAny child of the ‘80s will remember seeing the classic 1981 Disney film, about an unlikely pair of animals whose friendship becomes more complicated as they grow up. Heartfelt and heart-wrenching, it still makes us cry just thinking about Tod, the fox, and Copper, the hound. The film was based on the gorgeously written book by Mannix, which even won the Dutton Animal Book Award in 1967. It’s no surprise that readers are still flocking to the tale, which expands on the lives of Tod and Copper and is illustrated in loving detail by John Schoenherr.

 

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E. L. Konigsburg

From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler KonigsburgIt’s every kid’s dream to spend the night in an abandoned museum, which is why Konigsburg’s classic tale is still so relevant today. About two siblings who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the book is both fascinating and exciting as we watch Claudia and Jamie made a home in the museum – and solve the mystery of just who Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is. The book is still so beloved that it regularly makes top 100 lists, and it even won a Newbery Medal in 1968. There have been two film adaptations of the story, one in 1973 (released as The Hideaways) and another in 1995. But we don’t mind the different choices: this is one story we wouldn’t mind seeing adapted again and again.

 

All of these books with longevity make us wonder – what are the current books that will last for generations to come? Here at Booktrib, we predict longevity for at least 3 books that have become modern classics in their own rights: the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling; The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins; and A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin. All three have popularity, film adaptations, and that special touch of magic that we’re sure will make them last for years to come.

What books do you predict we’ll still be reading in 50 years? Let us know in the comments!

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