One night, during a discussion of favorite books, I mentioned Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, for which I have a special love. My dad replied something to the effect of "I read Ender's Game in high school. I didn't think it was much of anything, except a good read." He told me that he was surprised the book had become as popular as it had among my generation.
I was flabbergasted. I'd just written a term paper about the book, comparing it to Plato's The Republic. I couldn't understand how the brilliance of such a work could have been missed. (My dad's got some game and has good taste in books, so he's usually right on the money.)
That got me thinking. What constitutes great? I mean, I thought the book was great because it had characters a reader could relate to, interesting meanings that one could tease out of the text, memorable quotes, and lots of interpretive value. Apparently, interpretive value can take time to shine through. (I guess I can put Ender's Game on the list of things that might not have been appreciated during their time but are awesome.)
Maybe the books we judge as only so-so now will be considered classics in the future. Are there any books now deemed "not bad" or "nothing too special" that you think are going to be esteemed in the future? What makes a book worthy of such esteem?