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88 Books That Shaped America

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

The Library of Congress have compiled a list of 88 books that shaped America, which will be an exhibition to begin a multiyear “Celebration of the Book”.

“This list is a starting point,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “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 you will view the list, nominate other titles, and most importantly, choose to read and discuss some of the books on this list, reflecting America’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage, which the Library of Congress makes available to the world.

Here they all are, chronologically, spanning 1751-2002. Interesting that only one book is from the 21st century.

“Experiments and Observations on Electricity” by Benjamin Franklin (1751)
“Poor Richard Improved and The Way to Wealth” by Benjamin Franklin (1758)
“Common Sense” by Thomas Paine (1776)
“A Grammatical Institute of the English Language” by Noah Webster (1783)
“The Federalist” by anonymous (1787)
“A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible” by anonymous (1788)
“A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America” by Christopher Colles (1789)
“The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin, LL.D.” by Benjamin Franklin (1793)
“American Cookery” by Amelia Simmons (1796)
“New England Primer” by anonymous (1803)
“History of the Expedition Under the Command of the Captains Lewis and Clark” by Meriwether Lewis (1814)
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving (1820)
“McGuffey’s Newly Revised Eclectic Primer” by William Holmes McGuffey (1836)
“Peter Parley’s Universal History” by Samuel Goodrich (1837)
“The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” by Frederick Douglass (1845)
“The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
“Moby-Dick; or The Whale” by Herman Melville (1851)
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)
“Walden; or Life in the Woods” by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
“Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman (1855)
“Little Women, or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy” by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
“The American Woman’s Home” by Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe (1869)
“Mark, the Match Boy” by Horatio Alger Jr. (1869)
“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain (1884)
“How the Other Half Lives” by Jacob Riis (1890)
“Poems” by Emily Dickinson (1890)
“The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane (1895)
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum (1900)
“Harriet, the Moses of Her People” by Sarah H. Bradford (1901)
“The Call of the Wild” by Jack London (1903)
“The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)
“The History of Standard Oil” by Ida Tarbell (1904)
“The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair (1906)
“Pragmatism” by William James (1907)
“The Education of Henry Adams” by Henry Adams (1907)
“Riders of the Purple Sage” by Zane Grey (1912)
“Tarzan of the Apes” by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)
“Family Limitation” by Margaret Sanger (1914)
“New Hampshire” by Robert Frost (1923)
“Spring and All” by William Carlos Williams (1923)
“The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes (1925)
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
“The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner (1929)
“Red Harvest” by Dashiell Hammett (1929)
“Joy of Cooking” by Irma Rombauer (1931)
“Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie (1936)
“Idaho: A Guide in Word and Pictures” by Federal Writers’ Project (1937)
“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
“Our Town: A Play” by Thornton Wilder (1938)
“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck (1939)
“Alcoholics Anonymous” by anonymous (Bill W. – Bill Wilson) (1939)
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway (1940)
“Native Son” by Richard Wright (1940)
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith (1943)
“A Treasury of American Folklore” by Benjamin A. Botkin (1944)
“A Street in Bronzeville” by Gwendolyn Brooks (1945)
“The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care” by Benjamin Spock (1946)
“The Iceman Cometh” by Eugene O’Neill (1946)
“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams (1947)
“Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown (1947)
“Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” by Alfred C. Kinsey (1948)
“Howl” by Allen Ginsberg (1956)
“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger (1951)
“Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White (1952)
“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison (1952)
“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury (1953)
“On the Road” by Jack Kerouac (1957)
“Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand (1957)
“The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss (1957)
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (1960)
“Catch-22” by Joseph Heller (1961)
“Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert E. Heinlein (1961)
“Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson (1962)
“The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats (1962)
“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak (1963)
“The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan (1963)
“The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin (1963)
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X and Alex Haley (1965)
“Unsafe at Any Speed” by Ralph Nader (1965)
“In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote (1966)
“The Double Helix” by James D. Watson (1968)
“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown (1970)
“Our Bodies, Ourselves” by Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (1971)
“Cosmos” by Carl Sagan (1980)
“And the Band Played On” by Randy Shilts (1987)
“Beloved” by Toni Morrison (1987)
“The Words of Cesar Chavez” by Cesar Chavez (2002)

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