88 books that shaped America, at the Library of Congress

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#1
Some glaring holes, but the list isn't too bad:

The Library of Congress has selected 88 books that shaped America, all by American authors. The first was published in 1751, and the most recent in 2002. Each author is represented only once, with one exception: Benjamin Franklin, who landed three books on the list. Apparently the listmakers at the Library of Congress think quite a lot of the founding father.

"This list of ‘Books That Shaped America’ is a starting point. It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books -- although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not," Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a release. "We hope people will view the list and then nominate other titles. Finally, we hope people will choose to read and discuss some of the books on this list, reflecting our nation’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage, which the Library of Congress makes available to the world."

The list includes poetry, novels, nonfiction, plays, a polemic, books of science and grammar, cookbooks and children's books. The list includes 26 books published since 1950, 35 published from 1900 to 1950, 15 published from 1850 to 1900, six published from 1800 to 1850 and nine published before 1800.

For those who can get to Washington, the Library of Congress has the books on exhibit through Sept. 29. Those who can't get there to see the books in person are welcome to take the Library of Congress' online survey, which asks readers which of the big list of books they think are most significant.

After the jump, the 88 books that shaped America from the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress' list of 88 books that shaped America, sorted by title:

"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain (1884)
"Alcoholics Anonymous" by anonymous (1939)
"American Cookery" by Amelia Simmons (1796)
"The American Woman's Home" by Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe (1869)
"And the Band Played On" by Randy Shilts (1987)
"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand (1957)
"The Autobiography of Malcolm X" by Malcolm X and Alex Haley (1965)
"Beloved" by Toni Morrison (1987)
"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown (1970)
"The Call of the Wild" by Jack London (1903)
"The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss (1957)
"Catch-22" by Joseph Heller (1961)
"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger (1951)
"Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White (1952)
"Common Sense" by Thomas Paine (1776)
"The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care" by Benjamin Spock (1946)
"Cosmos" by Carl Sagan (1980)
"A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible" by anonymous (1788)
"The Double Helix" by James D. Watson (1968)
"The Education of Henry Adams" by Henry Adams (1907)
"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)
"The 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 (1936)
"Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown (1947)
"A Grammatical Institute of the English Language" by Noah Webster (1783)
"The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck (1939)
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
"Harriet, the Moses of Her People" by Sarah H. Bradford (1901)
"The History of Standard Oil" by Ida Tarbell (1904)
"History of the Expedition Under the Command of the Captains Lewis and Clark" by Meriwether Lewis (1814)
"How the Other Half Lives" by Jacob Riis (1890)
"How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie (1936)
"Howl" by Allen Ginsberg (1956)
"The Iceman Cometh" by Eugene O'Neill (1946)
"Idaho: A Guide in Word and Pictures" by Federal Writers' Project (1937)
"In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote (1966)
"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)
"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving (1820)
"Little Women, or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy" by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
"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 (1851)
"The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" by Frederick Douglass (1845)
"Native Son" by Richard Wright (1940)
"New England Primer" by anonymous (1803)
"New Hampshire" by Robert Frost (1923)
"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac (1957)
"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 Goodrich (1837)
"Poems" by Emily Dickinson (1890)
"Poor Richard Improved and The Way to Wealth" by Benjamin Franklin (1758)
"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)
"Red Harvest" by Dashiell Hammett (1929)
"Riders of the Purple Sage" by Zane Grey (1912)
"The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
"Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" by Alfred C. Kinsey (1948)
"Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson (1962)
"The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats (1962)
"The Souls of Black Folk" by W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)
"The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner (1929)
"Spring and All" by William Carlos Williams (1923)
"Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert E. Heinlein (1961)
"A Street in Bronzeville" by Gwendolyn Brooks (1945)
"A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams (1947)
"A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America" by Christopher Colles (1789)
"Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)
"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee (1960)
"A Treasury of American Folklore" by Benjamin A. Botkin (1944)
"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith (1943)
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)
"Unsafe at Any Speed" by Ralph Nader (1965)
"Walden; or Life in the Woods" by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
"The Weary Blues" by Langston Hughes (1925)
"Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak (1963)
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum (1900)
"The Words of Cesar Chavez" by Cesar Chavez (2002)

I noticed it's a little thin on books about the cultural changes of the 1960s, but that can be rectified; the survey asks for suggestions for future lists.
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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Holy shit, dude. I've read six of those. I do believe you get a internet cookie. I think that was more than anyone posted on Fark too.
 

Hudson

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#4
Holy shit, dude. I've read six of those. I do believe you get a internet cookie. I think that was more than anyone posted on Fark too.
I read a lot as a kid and had to read a lot in high school, still do. Emily Dickinson is my favorite Poet.,...is it cheating that I majored in English and History (3 credits short of a degree in Political Science)? The rest I read..well a bunch of what I read in college that I didn't need .to read was done in an effort to get laid more. I will say Atlas Shrugged gave me more headaches than reading Canterbury Tales and Milton's Paradise Lost (which I did my thesis on), in their origonal texts.
 

Pigdango

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#5
I think I've read like 11 or 12 of those, not many by choice.
 

whiskeyguy

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#6
I've read 10 of those, most by choice (reread a lot of the "classics" since high school), and I'm about 35% through Moby Dick which would be the 11th.

Obviously the list would be much different if you didn't specify American authors.
 

LiddyRules

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Jun 1, 2005
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Where's Dreams from My Father?

I read "A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America." It's only one page. "Despite my repeated atympts to acquire ansvars from the well-trod paffs, they provide the author of these pagghes with naught! Hark! I feeleth like Sir Russell of Brandington!"

Booo.
 

Norm Stansfield

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I've read maybe a dozen, if we include the ones I didn't actually finish. And I've read hundreds of novels.
 

whiskeyguy

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While all lists are arbitrary, artofmanliness.com has a list of "100 books every man should read" which I have been using as a rough guideline to stuff I wouldn't otherwise think of, and it's a pretty decent list. A lot of these books carry over, obviously.
 
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#13
Where's "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus"???
I thought everyone's mom owned that book...

I've read 18, I think most of them forced in HS
 

Norm Stansfield

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While all lists are arbitrary, artofmanliness.com has a list of "100 books every man should read" which I have been using as a rough guideline to stuff I wouldn't otherwise think of, and it's a pretty decent list. A lot of these books carry over, obviously.
Much better list. I like that Dostoevsky gets his well deserved three spots, and everyone else gets one. Good.
 

CougarHunter

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#15
Silent Spring.

Disease inducing fiction. That book has killed more people than any other short of the Bible/Koran.
 

whiskeyguy

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Much better list. I like that Dostoevsky gets his well deserved three spots, and everyone else gets one. Good.
Yeah that list has been a great guide... I just copies all the titles to an Excel spreadsheet, and have been mixing them in with other reading.

I think this fall when I have more time to read I'm going to organize my reading list by # of words per book and, starting with the shortest, knock out as many as I can. Then the list won't be as intimidating. I was able to finish Animal Farm and Call of the Wild in two nights when I was working out in the woods last month, and that's kind of nice.
 

Hudson

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I dunno what book I would buck, but "Two Years Before The Mast" by RH Dana Jr. should be in there......Real life story about a guy on a whaling ship 10 years before Moby Dick.
The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter is one too.
Wondering why Hemingway is not there more.
 

DrewDown

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#18
Where is Kurt Vonnegut? Slaughter-House Five should be on that list.
 

THE FEZ MAN

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ive read a few, im betting that heads are spinning with "unsafe at any speed"
 

Begbie

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Not a big reader. I'm sure I read a few of those (or the Cliff Notes version :icon_cool) in school for book reports and stuff.
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
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#23
How about the Book of Mormon? Or Dianetics?