Reading List American Literature
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Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
by Benjamin Franklin
Franklin did not live to complete this autobiography, the
great American leader tells us how he survived his impoverished
childhood in Boston to become a successful printer, inventor,
Account: Álvar Núñez Cabeza
de Vaca's Relación
translated by Martin A. Favata and José B. Fernández
This dramatic narrative, published in Spain in 1542, chronicles
one of the first Spanish explorations of America. The story
of the extreme hardships of the expedition is intertwined
with vivid descriptions of the lush landscape and the cultures
of native peoples.
Works of Anne Bradstreet
edited by Jeannine Hensley
This book provides an opportunity to read more of the works
of this skilled poet.
by Josepha Sherman
An excellent, intelligent, and richly-illustrated overview
of Native American cultures, this book includes information
about customs, beliefs, living conditions, and contacts
with white settlers.
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
In this tragic masterpiece of American literature, Hawthorne
tells a story rooted in the Puritanism of colonial New England.
Hester Prynne is a young woman who has violated Puritan
standards of behavior. Hawthorne delves deeply into the
mind and heart of Hester and of the two other main characters
Roger Chillingworth, Hester's obsessive and vengeful
husband, and Arthur Dimmesdale, the town's guilt-ridden
That Make America Great
edited by Jerome Agel
This book presents 200 documents that have helped define
America's character and ideals from its earliest days to
the present. Included are many documents of the years 17501850,
from the Declaration of Independence to the earliest rules
George Washington: Founding Father
by Richard Brookhiser
Some current historians see much of the story of George
Washington as folk legend. Brookhiser disagrees, though,
as he traces Washington's accomplishments as a statesman,
soldier, and founder of our nation.
Reshaping of Everyday Life: 17901840
by Jack Larkin
Larkin investigates the daily concerns and activities
of everyday Americans in a time of great social and economic
change. The author is chief historian at Old Sturbridge
Village, an outdoor history museum in Massachusetts.
Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane
A Civil War soldier's grand notions of glory abandon him
as he faces the slaughter of battle. Crane had no experience
of warfare when he wrote this novel, yet he successfully
depicts the experiences, the terror, and the bravery of
an ordinary soldier.
Goes to War: The Civil War and Its Meaning in American Culture
by Bruce Catton
Catton offers many interesting and useful facts about and
insights into the Civil War. The author also relates the
Civil War to more current events in American and world history.
Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During
the War for the Union
by James M. McPherson
This book reads like a well-written diary with the addition
of historical explanations. Numerous quotations reveal the
ideas and feelings of African American Union soldiers in
their own words. Photographs, songs, tables, and charts
offer a variety of additional source materials.
Private: Front and Rear
by William A. Fletcher
In this memoir, a former Confederate soldier tells of
the harsh realities of the Civil War. Fletcher describes
many important battles, including the Battle of Gettysburg.
The book provides an interesting perspective that
of an ordinary citizen and Confederate soldier.
by Willa Cather
Jim Burden recalls the Nebraska prairie and the people
most notably the Bohemian immigrant Ántonia
struggling to carve out a life there.
Wharton Abroad: Selected Travel Writings, 1888-1920
edited by Sarah Bird Wright
This collection of excerpts presents three decades of Wharton's
travel writing. The book demonstrates Wharton's great skill
at seeing the often overlooked treasures of everyday life.
by Jim Barmeier
This book from the series Life in America 100 Years
Ago chronicles details of everyday life at the
beginning of the twentieth century. It shows how major forces
such as immigration, technological advances, and the rise
of the factory system brought great change to many spheres
of life, including work, play, education, the family, and
Island: Land of Hope
by Joan Lowery
Nixon Rebekah Levinsky and her family, Russian Jews fleeing
oppression, are the main characters in this story of the
American immigrant experience of the early 1900s. The story
tells of the Levinsky family's voyage to America and their
struggle to survive on New York's Lower East Side.
Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
In Hurston's famous novel of the 1930s, Janie Crawford,
a strong and self-reliant African American woman, makes
a journey back to her roots in search of her own identity.
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The "roaring 1920s" come to life in this famous story of
Jay Gatsby, a self-made man, and the woman he has loved
Our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First 100 Years
by Sarah Delaney and A. Elizabeth Delaney
Two feisty women who lived to be more than a century old
tell their life stories. They describe the social history
of the twentieth century as they witnessed and enjoyed it.
by Edna St. Vincent Millay; edited by Norma Millay
The definitive collection of Millay's poetry, this volume
was compiled by Millay's sister after the poet's death.
Published in 1957, the collection continues to appeal to
today's readers. One reviewer of this book refers to the
"grace and depth" and "stunning beauty" of Millay's poetry.
by John Knowles
A young man visits his old boarding school and remembers
his life and friends there during the early days of World
War II. This novel depicts a friendship between two extremely
different people as well as life in a U.S. school during
Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World
by Martin Luther King Jr., edited by James Melvin Washington
A collection of King's most memorable speeches and writings,
as well as a biography of King and a historical review of
the Civil Rights movement.
of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
In this classic Pulitzer Prize winning drama, salesman
Willy Loman faces his own empty, unhappy life as well as
deep conflicts in his family.
by Tennessee Williams
An emotionally charged play about a southern family shows
how the dream world influences everyday life. The title
comes from a collection of glass animals that belongs to
the daughter in the family.
. . And the Earth Did Not Devour Him
by Tomás Rivera
This classic of Chicano literature tells the unique story
of a young boy trying to recall the events of a "lost year,"
a year that has clearly been a difficult one for him.
Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan
Spanning four decades, this novel traces the tragedies and joys of
four Chinese women who immigrate to the United States and
the complex lives of their American-born daughters.
by August Wilson
Written by a Pulitzer Prizewinning author, this two-act
play takes place in 1936, in the house of an African American
family. Wilson tells the story of a brother and sister and
their conflict over whether or not to sell a piano that
has been in the family for three generations and is reminiscent
of the family's painful history.
On the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 19541965
By Juan Williams
This important and inspiring book about personal activism
records 11 years that changed America's history. It includes
the story of the Montgomery bus boycott and numerous other
Civil Rights struggles.