Friday, June 22, 2012

88 Books You Haven't Read All Of

Here are the Library of Congress’s list of 88 “Books That Shaped America,” and I like the fact that they didn't feel compelled to add 12 more or to cut 13 in order to hit a round number.

So how many have you read? And I'd count "read" to include (as in the case of Dr. Spock or the cookbooks), using the book but perhaps not reading it cover to cover, but not (as in the case of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"), having seen the movie or (as in the case of "Atlas Shrugged" or "Uncle Tom's Cabin") having heard so much about them that you feel like you might as well have read them. But I'd count a play you've seen ("Streetcar" or "Our Town").

I'd have a higher score if I'd majored in American Lit or even English. And a much higher score if I counted the ones I fully intended to read, including some sitting on my shelf as I write this.

I had 28 (31.8%).

“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (Mark Twain, 1884)
“Alcoholics Anonymous” (anonymous, 1939)
“American Cookery” (Amelia Simmons, 1796)
“The American Woman’s Home” (Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1869)
“And the Band Played On” (Randy Shilts, 1987)
“Atlas Shrugged” (Ayn Rand, 1957)
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” (Malcolm X and Alex Haley, 1965)
“Beloved” (Toni Morrison, 1987)
“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” (Dee Brown, 1970)
“The Call of the Wild” (Jack London, 1903)
“The Cat in the Hat” (Dr. Seuss, 1957)
“Catch-22” (Joseph Heller, 1961)
“The Catcher in the Rye” (J.D. Salinger, 1951)
“Charlotte’s Web” (E.B. White, 1952)
“Common Sense” (Thomas Paine, 1776)
“The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care” (Benjamin Spock, 1946)
“Cosmos” (Carl Sagan, 1980)
“A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible” (anonymous, 1788)
“The Double Helix” (James D. Watson, 1968)
“The Education of Henry Adams” (Henry Adams, 1907)
“Experiments and Observations on Electricity” (Benjamin Franklin, 1751)
“Fahrenheit 451” (Ray Bradbury, 1953)
“Family Limitation” (Margaret Sanger, 1914)
“The Federalist” (anonymous, 1787)
“The Feminine Mystique” (Betty Friedan, 1963)
“The Fire Next Time” (James Baldwin, 1963)
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” (Ernest Hemingway, 1940)
“Gone With the Wind” (Margaret Mitchell, 1936)
“Goodnight Moon” (Margaret Wise Brown, 1947)
“A Grammatical Institute of the English Language” (Noah Webster, 1783)
“The Grapes of Wrath” (John Steinbeck, 1939)
“The Great Gatsby” (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925)
“Harriet, the Moses of Her People” (Sarah H. Bradford, 1901)
“The History of Standard Oil” (Ida Tarbell, 1904)
“History of the Expedition Under the Command of the Captains Lewis and Clark” (Meriwether Lewis, 1814)
“How the Other Half Lives” (Jacob Riis, 1890)
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” (Dale Carnegie, 1936)
“Howl” (Allen Ginsberg, 1956)
“The Iceman Cometh” (Eugene O’Neill, 1946)
“Idaho: A Guide in Word and Pictures” (Federal Writers’ Project, 1937)
“In Cold Blood” (Truman Capote, 1966)
“Invisible Man” (Ralph Ellison, 1952)
“Joy of Cooking” (Irma Rombauer, 1931)
“The Jungle” (Upton Sinclair, 1906)
“Leaves of Grass” (Walt Whitman, 1855)
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (Washington Irving, 1820)
“Little Women, or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy” (Louisa May Alcott, 1868)
“Mark, the Match Boy” (Horatio Alger Jr., 1869)
“McGuffey’s Newly Revised Eclectic Primer” (William Holmes McGuffey, 1836)
“Moby-Dick; or the Whale” (Herman Melville, 1851)
“The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” (Frederick Douglass, 1845)
“Native Son” (Richard Wright, 1940)
“New England Primer” (anonymous, 1803)
“New Hampshire” (Robert Frost, 1923)
“On the Road” (Jack Kerouac,1957)
“Our Bodies, Ourselves” (Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, 1971)
“Our Town: A Play” (Thornton Wilder, 1938)
“Peter Parley’s Universal History” (Samuel Goodrich, 1837)
“Poems” (Emily Dickinson, 1890)
“Poor Richard Improved and the Way to Wealth” (Benjamin Franklin, 1758)
“Pragmatism” (William James, 1907)
“The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin, LL.D.” (Benjamin Franklin, 1793)
“The Red Badge of Courage” (Stephen Crane, 1895)
“Red Harvest” (Dashiell Hammett, 1929)
“Riders of the Purple Sage” (Zane Grey, 1912)
“The Scarlet Letter” (Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850)
“Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” (Alfred C. Kinsey, 1948)
“Silent Spring” (Rachel Carson, 1962)
“The Snowy Day” (Ezra Jack Keats, 1962)
“The Souls of Black Folk” (W.E.B. Du Bois, 1903)
“The Sound and the Fury” (William Faulkner, 1929)
“Spring and All” (William Carlos Williams, 1923)
“Stranger in a Strange Land” (Robert E. Heinlein, 1961)
“A Street in Bronzeville” (Gwendolyn Brooks, 1945)
“A Streetcar Named Desire” (Tennessee Williams, 1947)
“A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America” (Christopher Colles, 1789)
“Tarzan of the Apes” (Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1914)
“Their Eyes Were Watching God” (Zora Neale Hurston, 1937)
“To Kill a Mockingbird” (Harper Lee, 1960)
“A Treasury of American Folklore” (Benjamin A. Botkin, 1944)
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (Betty Smith, 1943)
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852)
“Unsafe at Any Speed” (Ralph Nader, 1965)
“Walden, or Life in the Woods” (Henry David Thoreau, 1854)
“The Weary Blues” (Langston Hughes, 1925)
“Where the Wild Things Are” (Maurice Sendak, 1963)
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (L. Frank Baum, 1900)

Read more here:


Sherwood Harrington said...

20 here. 21 if I swallow real hard and accept "Cosmos" as belonging in the list. Its impact was as a series of television shows, not as a book, and I didn't think all that much of most of the episodes, anyway. It could be argued that the Feynman Lectures actually did more to shape America if we feel a need to include a modern, science-y item.

Anonymous said...

32 1/3 - I've read about 1/3 of Walden Pond. I actually read Gone With The Wind over a period of 36 hours when I was in tenth grade. I loved it. That's one were I was up most of the night with a flashlight.

Does it count if we've read some of the books more than once???

Gabe said...

19. I'd have had a higher score if I had read more of them.

There are some I want to read but I expected more that I wish I've read...

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Augh! 15. There's a confession for you! 16 if you count watching the Lee Marvin film of Iceman Cometh.

Ronnie said...

Okay - revised, on the basis of your "having seen the play" etc. new rules - got me to a more respectable 35 for an American History & Literature major who has kept right on reading even after getting the degree. Didn't claim anything for the fragment of Walden, even less than a third, Mary. Currently reading the wrong Ayn Rand.

Dann said...

11 - Perhaps 12 as it has been a while. My reading tastes run in different directions.

Can't tell you how glad I am that Ayn Rand and Robert Heinlein made the list.

But I saw a few that I might take a shot at down the road.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Ronnie, re "Currently reading the wrong Ayn Rand": They all are.

Mike said...

Actually, Sherwood, the real difficulty is determining which is the right one. And which is the far right one.

Ronnie said...

Yeahbut, when Mike's middle sister thought I should at least know what Rand had said, the one she brought home from the library was Fountainhead, not Atlas which is on the list: no credit to be earned in this contest. [Also means there's no need to read the whole darned thing!]

Sherwood Harrington said...

"I like the fact that they didn't feel compelled to add 12 more or to cut 13 in order to hit a round number."

88 itself, though, has a large number of connotations, good and bad, in many cultures:

It's also the number of rooms (including the darkroom that was lost for more than a century) in my favorite Irish house.

ronnie said...

15 here that I've actually finished. Would be higher if I counted movies, which I didn't (eg Gone with the Wind). That should seem dramatically bad for an English lit major; however happily it's a very US-centric list so I don't feel bad; I spent that time reading Richler, Laurence, Ross, Atwood, Davies, Carrier, et al and getting a minor degree in Victorian Prose (v. heavy on the Brits).

Fun exercise!

Jean said...

I'd rather not give my score here, :D
A few of them like 'On the Road' have been on my To-read list for a long time!
Thanks for sharing this, Mike!

Ronnie said...

Love those Canadian writers,ronnie, and would score pretty well on the Richler, Atwood, and especially Davies. Don't know the others but you'll tell me what I should read, right?