lists, and the Library of Congress cooked up this list of books that shaped America.
that’s all exciting, and I thought, These are the books of my people! And then
I checked out the list, and I went: Oh.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)
I’ve read it! I adore Huck Finn, I adore Mark Twain, and I adore this book.
Alcoholics Anonymous by anonymous (1939)
Never read it.
dined at my table.)
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1869)
Never heard of it. Again, since this sounds home-ec-y, no
And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts (1987)
it definitely belongs here.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and
Alex Haley (1965)
Yeah, same thing here.
Damn, this is a
depressing book. But hella memorable.
by Dee Brown (1970)
The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)
I read excerpts once, in school. It was enough for me.
in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (1957)
I’ve read it, and read it, and read it. (Though: the Dr. Seuss book I heard over and over and over and over and over again [my sister would trap each of us in the bathroom while we were in the bathtub — she’d plunk down on the lid of the toilet, and read aloud (sometimes repeatedly during a single bathing session) to a truly captive audience] was Green Eggs and Ham. I do not like them, Sam I am.)
wasn’t captivated. And it didn’t make me laugh, as promised. I’m a hard case sometimes.
Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger (1951)
this sometime in my late teens or early twenties and thought: Holden, you’re
really not as cool as you think you are.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952)
I remember reading this one on Thanksgiving or Christmas of 1st or 2nd
grade at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Cried. Also, cursed E.B. White’s name for years, for [Spoiler Alert!] killing
I know it’s important, but I’ve never read it.
The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by
Benjamin Spock (1946)
Cosmos by Carl Sagan (1980)
this would put me to sleep.
A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible by anonymous
The Double Helix by James D. Watson (1968)
Has anyone actually ever read it?
The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams
Experiments and Observations on Electricity by
Benjamin Franklin (1751)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
Family Limitation by Margaret Sanger (1914)
The Federalist by anonymous/ thought to be
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1787)
Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963)
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (1963)
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940)
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I’d think about this tomorrow… but I’ve already read it. Twice.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (1947)
When I became an auntie, I finally read this book. Aloud. Over and over and
over again. (This is a terribly fond recollection.)
really the title?
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)
When I read
this book, I got so depressed. And didn’t think I liked Steinbeck. Then I read
Travels with Charley and took him off the don’t-like list. I know this is
probably his most important American novel, but I still don’t love it.
Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
I read this in high school, then once after that. Probably should revisit it
The History of Standard Oil by Ida Tarbell
History of the Expedition Under the Command of
the Captains Lewis and Clark by Meriwether Lewis (1814)
significant. Never gonna read it, though.
How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis (1890)
Probably was earthshaking at the time, and I just wonder about the writing
Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936)
I read it and
it sort of changed my life. (Introverts, we need this book.)
I find you so tiresome and pretentious.
The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill (1946)
Never read it.
Word and Pictures by Federal Writers’ Project (1937)
(Who wrote this? Someone famous? I know that happened with some of these FWP
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966)
only reason I read this (true crime = scary) was for a genre study. Creepy as
hell. I’m still a bit haunted.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952)
Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer (1931)
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1906)
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1855)
this title, I think of the fact that Bill Clinton gave a copy to Hillary and to Monica.)
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington
Little Women, or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy by Louisa
May Alcott (1868)
child. I remember thinking it was overrated.
Mark, the Match Boy by Horatio Alger Jr. (1869)
McGuffey’s Newly Revised Eclectic Primer by
William Holmes McGuffey (1836)
Moby-Dick; or The Whale by Herman Melville
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
by Frederick Douglass (1845)
Native Son by Richard Wright (1940)
Again, me with the excerpts.
Robert Frost (1923)
but I haven’t read the entire thing.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
I curmudgeonly with this list? Yes. Yes, I am.)
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (1971)
Our Town: A Play by Thornton Wilder (1938)
Peter Parley’s Universal History by Samuel
Poems by Emily Dickinson (1890)
Poor Richard Improved and The Way to Wealth by
Benjamin Franklin (1758)
I’d choose for the list. I’ve seen excerpts.
Pragmatism by William James (1907)
The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin,
LL.D. by Benjamin Franklin (1793)
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1895)
made an impression on me—the terrors of war.
Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett (1929)
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey (1912)
not… Anyway, I say keep it on the list.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred C.
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1962)
Not read it.
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
read it. Not such a fan of Faulkner.
Spring and All by William Carlos Williams (1923)
Never read it.
I read this for a genre study. And despised it.
by Gwendolyn Brooks (1945)
Maybe I’ve read excerpts?
Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee
so confused, and so naïve, when I read this in high school.
Survey of the Roads of the United
States of America by Christopher Colles
roads back then?
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
So thankful I never have to actually read this. Nobody can make me.
Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
it is a pitiful object.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
Yeah, didn’t read this till college. What was wrong with me? Really should
re-read someday. In my ample spare time.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith (1943)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader (1965)
Walden; or Life in the Woods by Henry David
The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes (1925)
Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963)
Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)
The Words of Cesar Chavez by Cesar Chavez (2002)
I know he’s significant, but I’ve honestly never heard of this book.
here’s the tally: I’ve read* 22 of these puppies. Vaguely pathetic? Oh, yes…
only those I’ve read all the way through, not merely dabbled at