When I was in high school our reading list went something like this:
The Scarlet Letter (colonial America)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (slavery)
The Red Badge of Courage (sometimes for civil war)
The Jungle (turn of the century)
All Quiet on the Western Front (WWI)
The Great Gatsby (20’s)
Of Mice and Men (30s)
Catcher in the Rye (50’s and 60’s)
Fahrenheit 451 (Cold War)
And then if I remember correctly, it sort of dribbles off from there to miscellaneous short stories (The Things They Carried, etc) Yours might be a little different so plug in The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Crucible or Invisible Man as needed.
So what book will be required reading for the 80’s and 90’s? The qualifications being that it says something about those decades, not where it’s publication date happens to fall.
I’m almost positive that it will be American Pyscho or Fight Club and although most people disagree with me, none of them can suggest a decent alternative.
Update: Tyler Cowen picked it up which is awesome