Library of Congress Lists Books That Shaped America

Thursday, 05 Jul 2012 09:00 AM

By Martin Gould

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They are the books that shaped America, everything from “The Cat in the Hat” to “Alcoholics Anonymous” — with stops along the way for “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” “Catcher in the Rye,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
 
The Library of Congress named 88 books that, it says, made the United States what it is today, and they span a period of two-and-a-half centuries from Ben Franklin’s 1751 “Experiments and Observations on Electricity,” through to “The Words of Cesar Chavez,” printed in 2002.
 
Some are obvious — “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Huckleberry Finn,” and “Gone with the Wind,” for instance. Some are less so, such as 1788’s “A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible,” and “Idaho: A Guide in Words and Pictures.”
 
Franklin is the only author with three books represented on the list as “Poor Richard Improved,” and his posthumously published autobiography, “The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin, LL.D,” also make it. Harriet Beecher Stowe has two, "The American Woman's Home" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin." No-one else has more than one.
 
There are two cookbooks, Amelia Simmons’ “American Cookery,” and Irma Rombauer’s “Joy of Cooking," as well as the ground-breaking Kinsey Report, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” and Dr. Benjamin Spock’s “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.”
 
For conservatives, there’s Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” — for liberals, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”
 
Children’s books are well represented. “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Charlotte’s Web,” and “Goodnight Moon,” all make the grade.
 
But the organizers of the list insist it is not exhaustive. “We hope people will view the list and then nominate other titles,” said Librarian of Congress James Billington.
 
“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," he said.
 
The full list, in alphabetical order, is:
 
    "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)
 

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