88 books that made us who we are

The Library of Congress has a new exhibit called "Books That Shaped America" and to celebrate and publicize it they have issued a list of eighty-eight of those books. These are all books that were written by Americans. They date from 1776 up until 2002, and they are a very mixed bag.
There are fiction and nonfiction books, poetry and prose, cookbooks, biographies, philosophy, books for adults and books for children. A quick perusal of the list will convince you that the books were not necessarily selected for their literary quality, although some of them certainly are of highest quality. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said in his press release, "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. 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."
One way the Library hopes to spark a national conversation is by encouraging feedback and input. On their website, they have a survey form that readers can complete and they are encouraging us to nominate other books for the list. Apparently the only real requirement is that it has to have been written by an American.
I wouldn't be much help with adding books to their list. While I enjoy looking at and critiquing other people's lists, I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to creating my own. I couldn't even tell you what is my favorite book or the book that has influenced me most in my life. How could I possibly choose just one from thousands?
Anyway, for what it's worth, here's the Library's starting list of 88 books. How many of them have you read? 
 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
The Words of Cesar Chavez, Cesar Chavez, 2002


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