Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The American Classics

Readers may have noticed in recent weeks American literature appearing with more frequency than usual on a blog that is dominated by nonfiction. This is not an accident; a few weeks ago I arranged a course of reading for myself to rediscover, or perhaps discover anew, the American soul. I say discover anew because though I'm familiar with many of the books' reputations, I've never really encountered them.  It's high time I learned my country's stories.   The list that follows contains ten items from the course, but the 'complete' list is longer and unknown to me, as it it will grow and shrink as I travel onward.

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
2. Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
3. Moby-Dick, Herman Melville
4. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
5. The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane
6. Up from Slavery, Booker T. Washington
7. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
8.  White Fang, Jack London
9.  Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
10. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

Before these I read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Legend of Rip Van Winkle,  The Last of the Mohicans, The Scarlet Letter,  A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  I've been trying to work chronologically,  though Twain skipped a few places in line because I've wanted to read Huck Finn for the longest and wouldn't do it before re-reading Tom Sawyer.  My hope is to gain a fuller appreciation of American history, with all of its meaning, through the literature its troubles and hopes produced.


  1. That's a great list. March by Geraldine Brooks is a fabulous read after you've read Little Women.

  2. Yes it is a great list. I've only read one of them- Uncle Tom's Cabin, and I'm not sure that I finished it. I have read March and can recommend it- even when you haven't read Little Women.


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