Friday, June 24, 2016

Books That Shaped America: Round Two

Image result for library of congress bookshelves

Oh, how I love a book list. There is a new one that came out recently from the Library of Congress. 

A little background: In 2012, our nation's library put together an exhibit which shone the spotlight on Books That Shaped America. The library's curators and experts made their suggestions as to which books should be on that list.  (I wrote a bit about that exhibit here.) 

This year the library asked the public to nominate 40 books that they thought should be on a second Books That Shaped America list. People could also vote on another 25 from the 88 books on the 2012 list. Over 17,000 people responded. 

I was not one of them. 

I am hurt that the library didn't let me know about this survey. I hope it didn't have anything to do with my breaking and entering into its domed reading room a few years ago. I was sure all was forgiven...(You can read about that escapade here.)

Anyway, this second round of books make up an exhibit that will continue at the Library of Congress until the end of the year. It features the chosen 65 books and is open to the public. Many on view are from the library's rare book collection and seldom on public display.

These selections are not meant to represent the best of American literature, but are merely books that mean something to America and Americans.

I took a peek at the list to see if there are any glaring gaps in my reading history. Of course, there are. 

A few of the books I have no interest in reading - I am looking at you Uncle Tom's Cabin, Baby and Child Care, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking

You can read the entire list here.

Thoughts on a few of the choices:

The Wizard of Oz - I could have sworn I had a vintage copy of this but, alas, I don't see it on my shelves. I can't believe I would have given it away! I'll keep looking.

Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut visited Louisville long ago and as a perk of working at the time for an independent bookstore I was privileged to attend his lecture and Q&A. Also, I just discovered that the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is a 90-minute drive north of me in Indianapolis.

The Jungle - While in high school, I worked for a short time as a 'page' at a small branch library. One evening while Mrs. Bader the branch librarian was at dinner, an elderly woman came in looking for a reading recommendation. I innocently directed her to Upton Sinclair's expos√© of the meat packing industry and the harsh lives and living conditions led by the immigrants in Chicago. Oh, dear. Not quite what this woman of Southern Sensibilities was looking for. She returned it the next day. 

What about you? Are there books on this list that you have been meaning to read? Perhaps now is the time.


  1. I just went back to read the post on your trip to the Library of Congress. I'm impressed by your determination and boldness! It is OUR library after all, but I'm afraid I would have been cowering with your friend!

    1. Hi, Joan. Thanks for taking time to read of my LoC escapade. It was one of my finest moments! Usually I am a 'rule follower' but sometimes I just get an attitude of 'the rules don't apply to me!' Like you say, it is OUR library. I was not to be daunted.

  2. I've read a lot of the books on the list, and the ones I haven't read I'm not sure I want to. One book that I did just finish reading is Miss Buncle's Book. And it was your review of this book way back in January that made me seek it out. And I ended up loving it. So thanks!! :)

    1. Hi, Lark. I was surprised at how many on the LoC list I was not interested in reading! I am not sure what that says about me...

      Glad you loved Miss Buncle. Great characters! I also read 'Miss Buncle Married' which introduces a whole new set of people to love.

    2. That one's next on my list. :)

    3. There is also a third one in the series, Lark. I have not read that one although I am sure it is just as entertaining.