To launch a multiyear celebration of the book, The Library of Congress launched a special display called “Books That Shaped America”. As is noted in the link below, the top fifty books, (in alphabetical order) is not a list of the best books in America, but the ones which have shaped our lives, which explains why Cat in the Hat is mentioned. I totally understand this choice. Who doesn’t remember reading the book in childhood, or reading it to children or grandchildren?
As the Library of Congress points out, a number of the titles would definitely make a top fifty list as well. As I browsed through the first twenty, I was surprised by how many I had read (probably at least half), including Atlas Shrugged, Adventures of Huckleberry Fin, Beloved, and Bury My Heart at
Wounded Knee. Some of the books I haven’t read include
Alcoholics Anonymous and American Cookery.
There were a number of excluded titles that I would happily add to my own list: books by Gloria Steinem,
Irving, and Betty Friedan, for instance. But as you’ll see on the page, the
Congress does invite people to nominate other books.
The thing that struck me is that I read a fair portion of the top fifty before I ever decided to try my hand at writing. Perhaps those books not only helped established my lifelong love of reading, but my passion for writing. How about you? What books helped shaped your life? Do you agree with the list? You can find it at http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/books-that-shaped-america/