Books That Shaped America

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Books That Shaped America

Created by the Library of Congress and Rachel Bussan, IA1A

(We own all of these titles)
LT2761, BR10687, DB/RC57349
Title: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Author: Mark Twain
Annotation: Twain's 1885 tale about a boy who runs away from home and floats down the Mississippi on a raft with a runaway slave. Strong language. Companion to "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." For grades 6-9.
Title: Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book, 4th Ed.
Author: Alcoholics Anonymous
Annotation: Fourth edition of the basic 1939 text of Alcoholics Anonymous, the "big book." Describes the recovery program and includes personal histories of recovering members. Highlights founder Bill's story, the self-help group's twelve traditions, plus medical and religious views of the organization. 2001.
Title: And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic
Author: Randy Shilts
Annotation: The author, a reporter for the "San Francisco Chronicle," has been covering the AIDS epidemic full-time since 1982. He presents the apathy and politics displayed by the government, the media, the medical establishment, and the Gay community before they realized the magnitude of the crisis, as well as the tragedy of the disease's human toll. Bestseller 1987.
Title: Atlas Shrugged
Author: Ayn Rand
Annotation: Dagny Taggart, manager of a transcontinental railroad, opposes John Galt and others who relinquish control over their enterprises in exchange for security through government regulations. Espouses the clear-cut social values of the author's philosophy of objectivism within a fictional story line. Some strong language. 1957.
BR17499, DB/RC65510
Title: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Author: Malcolm X
Annotation: The life of African American religious leader Malcolm X (1925-1965). The author describes his boyhood in Lansing, Michigan, street life in Harlem, conversion to the Black Muslim movement while imprisoned for robbery, and evolution into a high-profile spokesman for black dignity, power, and separatism. Foreword by Alex Haley. 1964.
LT5476, BR16707, DB26026

Title: Beloved

Author: Toni Morrison
Annotation: Related in kaleidoscopic fashion and set in rural Ohio during the period immediately following the Civil War, this chronicle of slavery and its aftermath traces the life of Sethe, a former slave. Sethe has a secret in her past so horrific that it has alienated the community, driven off her two sons, isolated her surviving daughter, and threatened her new, loving relationship with Paul D., also a former slave. Some descriptions of sex, some violence, and some strong language. Bestseller. Pulitzer Prize. 1987.
BR19577, DB20462
Title: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
Author: Dee A. Brown
Annotation: Based on treaty council records, autobiographies, and first-person testimony, Brown's historical research documents the years 1860-1890, when European settlers drove Native Americans from their land. Describes the December 1890 massacre of one hundred fifty unarmed Sioux at Wounded Knee in South Dakota.1970.
LT1035, BR12582, DB49486
Title: The Call of the Wild
Author: Jack London
Annotation: Buck, a St. Bernard, is stolen and trained to be a sled dog in the Alaska gold fields. Abused by both men and dogs, Buck learns to fight ruthlessly until he finds in John Thornton a master he loves and respects. First published in 1903. For junior and senior high readers.
BR13461, DB33062
Title: The Cat in the Hat
Author: Dr. Seuss
Annotation: A story in rhyme tells about two bored children sitting at home on a rainy day while their mother is out. Then the Cat in the Hat arrives on their door mat to show them good fun with his tricks and games. For kindergarten-grade 3. 1957.
LPV133, BR11980, DB48063
Title: Catch-22
Author: Joseph Heller
Series: Catch-22, Book 1
Annotation: A grotesquely comic novel about the mad adventures of Captain Yossarian, a bombardier based in Italy during World War II, who desperately tries to avoid flying missions while his fanatical commander keeps increasing the quota needed. Satirizes military illogic and self-aggrandizement. Strong language and explicit descriptions of sex. Bestseller 1961. Followed by "Closing Time."
LPV705, BR11919, DB47480
Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J. D. Salinger
Annotation: As Christmas vacation begins, Holden Caulfield recounts his feelings and reactions to flunking out of Pencey, his third prep school. Instead of heading straight home, he wanders around New York City. This account of his adventures conveys his dismay at the adult world. Strong language. For senior high and older readers. 1951.
LT1753, BR17770, DB46839
Title: Charlotte’s Web
Author: E. B. White
Annotation: A little girl who can talk to animals is devoted to both Wilbur, the foolishly smug pig, and Charlotte, the beautiful gray spider who saves Wilbur's life. For grades 3-6. 1952.
Title: Common Sense, Rights of Man, And Other Essential Writings of Thomas Paine
Author: Thomas Paine
Annotation: Essays by American philosopher and patriot Thomas Paine (1737-1809). Includes "Common Sense," which advocates America's moral obligation for independence; "Rights of Man," which condemns hereditary monarchy; and selections from "The Age of Reason," "Agrarian Justice," and "The Crisis," published to boost morale among Washington's troops during the American Revolution. 2003.
Title: Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care (1998)
Author: Benjamin Spock
Annotation: Revised and updated seventh edition of a classic work by the pediatrician who died in 1998. Written for parents of the developing child from birth through adolescence, this comprehensive handbook now includes information on such topics as a plant-based, non-dairy diet and alternative therapies. 1998.
Title: Cosmos
Author: Carl Sagan
Series: Explores the fifteen-billion-year history of cosmic evolution; describes the planets, stars, and galaxies; and traces man's attempts from earliest times to understand the universe of which he is a part. The author relates how science and civilization grew up together and examines the promise of man's future as his scientific knowledge continues to increase. Bestseller. 1980.
BRN12098, DB51672
Title: The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
Author: James D. Watson
Series: James D. Watson Autobiography, Book 1
Annotation: The 1962 Nobel Prize winner for medicine and physiology relates how he, co-winner Francis Crick, and their collaborators hit upon the "double helix" model of the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule, the fundamental genetic material.
BRN4438, DB22293
Title: The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography
Author: Henry Adams
Annotation: The American historian of the 19th century wrote this partial autobiography in the third person. He felt that his "18th-century" education was inadequate preparation for the multiplicity of modern life. 1918.
BR15332, DB34963
Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Annotation: Social satire set in the future, when owning or reading a book is a crime. Guy Montag, a fireman charged with destroying books, becomes a fugitive when he succumbs to temptation. Some strong language. 1951.
Title: The Federalist Papers
Author: Alexander Hamilton
Annotation: Written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison to urge the voters of New York to ratify the U.S. Constitution, the "Federalist Papers" were the first important commentary on that document and continue to provide the basis for its interpretation. Fifty-one of these landmark essays are presented here along with extensive notes and a guide to writings about the "Federalist Papers." 1961.
Title: The Feminine Mystique
Author: Betty Friedan
Annotation: 1960s feminist discusses problems of American women. Considers a distorted image of femininity to have arrested women's intellectual growth, hampered their sexual fulfillment, threatened their marriages, and become their major barrier to self-realization. 1963.
BR12455, DB49108
Title: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Annotation: American Robert Jordan has joined the Republicans fighting against the Fascists during the Spanish civil war. He is on a mission to destroy a strategically located bridge with the help of a band of guerillas. At their camp he falls in love with Maria, a young torture victim. Some violence.
LT4302, BR11427, DB33082
Title: Gone With the Wind
Author: Margaret Mitchell
Series: Gone With the Wind, Book 1
Annotation: A romantic Civil War epic in which Scarlett O'Hara, a forceful and ruthless heroine, and Rhett Butler, a war profiteer, play out their tempestuous love affair against the background of the war-torn South. Pulitzer Prize. 1936. An authorized sequel ("Scarlett") was written by Alexandra Ripley in 1991.
BR11967, DB12143
Title: Goodbye, Columbus, and Five Short Stories
Author: Philip Roth
Annotation: Title story in this collection, which won the National Book Award in 1960, is about a young Radcliffe girl and a Rutgers boy who learn that there is more to love than exuberance and passion. All of the stories dramatize the dilemma of modern American Jews torn between two worlds. Strong language.
BR13012, DB24603
Title: Goodnight Moon
Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Annotation: A little bunny already tucked into his bed says goodnight to the familiar things in his room as the light in the room dims gently until all is dark. For kindergarten-grade 3.
LT3653, BR9954, DB/RC68308
Title: The Grapes of Wrath
Author: John Steinbeck
Annotation: Pulitzer Prize-winning story of the Joads from Oklahoma, who, along with other families during the Great Depression, are driven from their dust-bowl farms by the encroachment of large agricultural interests. They set out, like generations before them, to the promised land of California to find work. Instead they face organized opposition to their struggle to survive. Strong language. Originally published in 1939.
LT4498, BR11057, DB16147
Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Annotation: The glitter and recklessness of the Jazz Age is the back-drop for this novel about Jay Gatsby's desperate attempt to recapture the past, and along with it, the love of Daisy Buchanan. Amid extravagant parties at Gatsby's palatial estate, his neighbor narrates the story of his obsession with the American dream. For senior high and adult readers. 1925.
BRD18117, DB53469
Title: How to Win Friends and Influence People (1998)
Author: Dale Carnegie
Annotation: Originally published in 1937, this guide provides fundamental techniques in handling people. Includes how to make people like you, how to win them to your way of thinking, and how to be a leader without offending or arousing resentment.
BR17241, DB/RC64404
Title: Selected Poems, 1947-1995
Author: Allen Ginsberg
Annotation: Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) presents a half century of verse in a variety of forms and themes including the political, sexual, devotional, and spiritual. Contains selections from Howl, Kaddish, The Fall of America, Plutonian Ode, White Shroud, and others. Descriptions of sex and strong language. 1996.
Title: In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences
Author: Truman Capote
Annotation: The author coined the term "nonfiction novel" for this account of the murder of a Kansas family. He reconstructs the crime and the backgrounds and personalities of all the principals, drawing his information from observation, interviews, and official records. Violence and some strong language.
BR14988, DB/RC56346
Title: The Invisible Man
Author: Ralph Ellison
Annotation: Classic novel of a young black man's search for identity. Follows the unnamed protagonist from his youth in a Southern town through the depression years in Harlem, where he examines and rejects the values thrust on him by both whites and blacks. Some strong language.1947.
BR17462, DB/RC64227
Title: The Joy of Cooking (2006 Edition)
Author: This seventy-fifth anniversary edition of Joy of Cooking is based on the popular 1975 edition and restores many of the original standards dropped from the 1997 edition. In addition to recipes for salads, meats, and desserts, sections on nutrition, entertaining, ingredients, and cooking methods are included. 2006.
LT5668, BR13742, DB52961
Title: The Jungle
Author: Upton Sinclair
Annotation: Grim account of the deplorable conditions in the Chicago meat-packing industry around 1900, as seen through the eyes of Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkus. When first published, the novel aroused the indignation of the American public and forced government investigations that led to the passage of pure food legislation.
LT6017, BR14828, DB68777
Title: King James Bible
Annotation: This edition of the King James Version of the Bible, a translation from the original languages authorized in 1611.
LT10435, BR11778, DB/RC58830
Title: Little Women
Author: Louisa M. Alcott
Series: Little Women, Book 1
Annotation: Recounts the lives of the four March sisters -- quick-tempered Jo, who is restless for freedom; Beth, who loves her home and family; Meg who longs for pretty clothes; and self-absorbed Amy. For grades 6-9. Originally published in 1868. First book in the Little Women series about the March family. Followed by "Little Men."
LT3901, BR14641, DB34184
Title: Moby Dick, Or, the Whale
Author: Herman Melville
Annotation: The sailor Ishmael tells the story of Captain Ahab's obsessive pursuit of the white whale in this novel which includes chapters on the natural history of the whale, the whole making an allegory of human potential and limitations. Violence. 1851.
LT4703, BR11320, DB13491
Title: My Antonia
Author: Willa Cather
Annotation: A lawyer recalls his Nebraska boyhood and the girl who was a strong influence on his life in this novel about pioneering conditions and the assimilation of immigrants. 1918.
LT5596, BR17929, DB30570
Title: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave
Author: Frederick Douglass
Annotation: Published in 1845, this is the first of three autobiographies written by the noted abolitionist. Douglass discusses his life from his birth in Maryland in 1818 to his escape to the North in 1838. He writes of the physical, mental, and spiritual brutalities of slavery; how he learned to read and write; and how he resolved to live free or die. For junior and senior high readers.
Title: The Poetry of Robert Frost: Complete and Unabridged
Author: Robert Frost
Annotation: Clear, simple poetry sings of rural, democratic joys and the love of nature. Writing in traditional verse forms, however, the poet creates a tension of thought and feeling. For Frost, the poem is "a momentary stay against confusion."
BR18352, DB31675
Title: On the Road
Author: Jack Kerouac
Series: Duluoz Legend, Book 1
Annotation: The adventures of free-spirited Dean Moriarty, Sal Paradise, and their eclectic friends as they traverse North America by bus, car (both stolen and borrowed), and thumb on a wild, anarchic quest for identity and purpose. Classic autobiographical portrayal of the beat generation. Descriptions of sex and some strong language. Followed by "Big Sur." 1957.
Title: Our Bodies, Ourselves (2011 Ed.)
Author: Boston Women’s Health Collective
Annotation: Updated version of classic women's medical book discusses core issues such as gynecology and sexuality. Adds coverage on reproductive rights, violence against women, environmental health, and other topics. Includes information on disabilities, post-reproductive years, and navigation of the health-care system. 2011.
LT8380, BRN15604, DB12934
Title: Our Town: A Play in Three Acts
Author: Thornton Wilder
Annotation: Wilder's famous play about life in a typical small American town early in the twentieth century. Originally published in 1938.
LT9205, BR13144, DB22405
Title: The Red Badge of Courage: An Episode of the American Civil War
Author: Stephen Crane
Annotation: Henry Fleming, a young country boy, enthusiastically enlists with the Union army during the Civil War. Wanting to prove himself a hero, but experiencing shock and fear on the battle front, he finally revives his courage and self-respect in a crucial war advance.1895. For senior high and adult readers.
LT1940, BR12559, DB49208
Title: Riders of the Purple Sage
Author: Zane Grey
Series: Lassiter
Annotation: Utah, 1871. When Jane Withersteen incurs the wrath of her fellow Mormons for befriending Gentiles, gunman Lassiter comes to her aid and makes a startling personal discovery. Violence. 1912.
LT1956, BR17794, DB53160
Title: Roots
Author: Alex Haley
Annotation: Seven generations of the author's family, from 1767, when Kunta Kinte is captured in the Gambia, West Africa, and transported to Virginia as a slave. Chronicles Haley's ancestors' resettlement in Tennessee following the Civil War, reconstructs his birth in 1921, and describes his genealogical research. Some violence. Pulitzer Prize. 1974.
LT3699, BR9407, DB48457
Title: The Scarlet Letter
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Annotation: First published in 1850, this symbolic novel set in Puritan New England traces the effects of one particular sin on the lives of people's lives. Hester Prynne is forced to display her transgression openly in the form of a scarlet letter "A" for adultery. Her husband is obsessed with revenge, and her lover, a minister, conceals his guilt and shame.
Title: Sexual Behavior in the Human Male
Author: Alfred C. Kinsey
Annotation: A classic statistical study of sexual behavior in the human male, based on research conducted by the staff at Indiana University. This survey was intended primarily for workers in the field of medicine, psychology, sociology, anthropology and allied sciences.
BR11887, DB20184
Title: Silent Spring
Author: Rachel Carson
Annotation: The author criticizes man's large-scale use of chemical insecticides and weed killers, and warns that such a policy jeopardizes the environment and damages wild life.
LPV206, BR17373, DB/RC64540
Title: Slaughterhouse-Five, Or, the Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Annotation: Billy Pilgrim, adrift in time, randomly revisits past and present manifestations: senile widower stalked by an assassin, hopeful young newlywed, giraffe on the planet Tralfamadore -- where time is an illusion -- and, most crucially, American POW during the firebombing of Dresden in World War II. Strong language and violence. 1968.
BRD2635, DB43471
Title: The Snowy Day
Author: Ezra J. Keats
Annotation: Young Peter is thrilled to wake up to snow piled high. He spends the day crunching, sliding, building a snowman, making snow angels, and having a great time. For kindergarten-grade 3. 1962.
LT2270, BR13240, DB/RC63648
Title: The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches
Author: W.E.B. Du Bois
Annotation: Fourteen essays and sketches by civil rights activist, published in 1903, examine African American experiences in the post-Civil War South. Argues that emancipation should have brought immediate racial equality and that racial accommodation policies reflected a sellout. 1903.
BR11402, DB49885
Title: The Sound and the Fury
Author: William Faulkner
Annotation: In 1928 Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, the Compson brothers -- Quentin, Jason, and the "idiot" son Benjy -- narrate events that trace the gradual disintegration of the family and include the ostracism of their wanton sister, Caddy. 1929.
BR13700, DB/RC55938
Title: Stranger in a Strange Land
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Annotation: Born and raised on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith returns to Earth unfamiliar with its cultural and social customs. Tutored in earthly matters by Jubal Harshaw, Smith evolves into a messianic figure preaching free love. Some explicit descriptions of sex and some strong language. Hugo Award. 1961.
LPV580, BR11535, DB46212
Title: A Streetcar Named Desire
Author: Tennessee Williams
Annotation: A recently widowed, faded Southern belle visits her bohemian sister and lusty brother-in-law in the French Quarter of New Orleans in this play. Seeking the lost gentility of her early life, she instead faces a complete mental breakdown due to the insensitivity of those around her. 1947.
Title: The Complete Stories
Author: Edgar Allen Poe
Annotation: Sixty-eight short stories by the nineteenth-century American master of the macabre. Contains familiar favorites such as "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Gold Bug," and "The Pit and the Pendulum," as well as such lesser known works as "MS. Found in a Bottle," "King Pest," "The Man That Was Used Up," "The Devil in the Belfry," "The Balloon-Hoax," and "Some Words with a Mummy."
BRN5459, DB50056
Title: Tarzan of the Apes
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Series: Tarzan, Book 1
Annotation: Lord and Lady Greystoke are cast ashore on the African coast after a shipboard mutiny. They later die in the jungle, but their infant son survives (nursed by a family of great apes) to become Tarzan. 1914. Followed by "The Return of Tarzan."
LT10235, BR16074, DB35745
Title: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Author: Zora N. Hurston
Annotation: Classic novel of Janie, a handsome black woman, and her three marriages: to Logan Killicks, a prosperous farmer; to go-getter Joe Starks, who makes her Mrs. Mayor Starks of Eatonville, Florida; and to Tea Cake Woods, who teaches Janie, at forty, the reality of love and happiness. 1937.
LT10244, BR12850, DB36414
Title: To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Annotation: Classic tale of injustice, friendship, and coming-of-age in 1930s Alabama. Six-year-old Scout and her friends are fascinated by the mysterious Radley place and its reclusive occupant. But their focus shifts when Scout's attorney-father is called upon to defend a black man accused of rape. For senior high and older readers. Pulitzer Prize. 1960.
LT8124, BR1620, DB44769
Title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Author: Betty Smith
Annotation: Francie Nolan comes of age in the turn-of-the-century Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn. 1968.
LT4980, BR12749, DB50070
Title: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Or, Life among the Lowly
Author: Harriet Beecher Stowe
Annotation: First published in 1852, abolitionist Stowe's depiction of the moral injustice of slavery and the evils of materialism. Tom saves little Eva's life, and years later she tries to help him gain his freedom. Eventually, Tom's protection of runaway Eliza costs him his life at the hands of the brutal ex-Yankee Simon Legree.
LPV589, BR62, DB50835
Title: Walden, Or, Life in the Woods, And, on the Duty of Civil Disobedience
Author: Henry David Thoreau
Annotation: Autobiography recording the author's experiment in essential living at his Walden Pond retreat in the 1850's, as well as his detailed observations of nature and his commentaries on world problems. His essay "Civil Disobedience" is a protest against government's interference with individual liberty.
Title: The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
Author: Langston Hughes
Annotation: "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up / like a raisin in the sun?" asks Langston Hughes in "Harlem [2]," one of 860 poems presented here. Others include "Aesthete in Harlem," "Beaumont to Detroit: 1943," "Blues on a Box," "Easy Boogie," "Prayer Meeting," and "Sunset -- Coney Island." Hughes often uses jazz rhythms to share the pain and joy of life in black America from the 1920s to the mid-1960s. The collection is edited by Arnold Rampersad. 1994.
BRN3941, DB50624
Title: The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts
Author: Maxine H. Kingston
Annotation: Girlhood recollections of a Chinese American in California, where her parents had settled and operated a laundry. Her mother's "talk-stories" filled the girl's head with mythic Chinese figures and traditions as she coped with daily life in America. Some strong language. 1976.
LT1499, DB51047
Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Author: L. Frank Baum
Series: Wizard of Oz, Book 1
Annotation: When a cyclone blows Dorothy and her dog Toto from their Kansas home to the magical Land of Oz, Dorothy meets the Munchkins and witches. With her new companions the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy travels to the Emerald City to petition the Wizard. Followed by "The Land of Oz." For grades 4-7.
Title: The Words of Cesar Chavez
Author: Cesar Chavez
Annotation: Collection of speeches given by Mexican American civil rights activist and labor leader Cesar Chavez from 1965 to 1991. Includes political addresses, eulogies of Latino civil rights movement leaders, and more. 1965.
Created by Rachel Bussan on 2/27/2013

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