Saturday, July 9, 2011

25 Books That Shaped America

When this book by Thomas C Foster first came out in hardcover, I was intrigued ... after all I did my graduate studies in Early American literature. But I waited for it to come out in paperback before purchasing a copy. Not surprisingly I have read [and studied] most of these books though I'll admit I am a bit weak on the mid-20th Century to date selections.

1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. YES
2. The Last of the Mohicans. James Fenimore Cooper. YES
3. The Scarlet Letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne. YES
4. Walden. Henry David Thoreau. YES
5. Moby Dick. Herman Melville. YES
6. Leaves of Grass. Walt Whitman. YES
7. Little Women. Louisa May Alcott. YES
8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain. YES
9. A Boy's Will and North of Boston. Robert Frost. YES
10. My Antonia. Willa Cather. YES
11. The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald. YES
12. The Sun Also Rises. Ernest Hemingway. YES
13. The Weary Blues. Langston Hughes. NOT THIS ONE BUT I'VE READ HIS WORK
14. The Maltese Falcon. Dashiell Hammett NO
15. USA. John Dos Passos. YES
16. The Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck. YES
17. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Zora Neale Hurston. NO
18. Go Down, Moses. William Faulkner YES
19. The Adventures of Augie March. Saul Bellow. NO
20. On the Road. Jack Kerouac. YES
21. The Cat in the Hat. Dr. Seuss. YES
22. To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee. YES.
23. The Crying of Lot 49. Thomas Pynchon. NO
24. Song of Solomon. Toni Morrison. NO
25. Love Medicine. Louise Erdrich. NO

I think my preference for 18th & 19th & early 20th century literature shows ... as we come closer and closer to the present, I seem to have overlooked more and more of these authors ... indeed, until picking up this little volume, I'd never even heard of Hurston and Erdrich. In any case, I have read 18 of the books purported to have shaped America. My curiosity has been piqued enough to go out and buy a few more to read this summer.


Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

What a great list - as an English person I think I've heard of less than you've read!
I love that Cat in the Hat is on there.
I wonder what the equivalent English list would be?

mdgtjulie said...

I was really hoping Harper Lee would be on that list. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my most fave books ever. I haven't read Their Eyes Were Watching God, but they made a really good movie out of it, and I saw it. It made me laugh and cry and feel a great sense of peace. If you get the chance to see it, you really should.

mbroider said...

Thanks for this list.

I have read #s 7, 8, 11 and 22. And loved all of them. #22 is one of my favorite favorites...

Now i will check the others and see how many i want to add to my reading list, thanks:)