Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Books That Shaped America

With the intention of sparking a national conversation about books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, a current exhibition at the Library of Congress entitled Books That Shaped America features a wide array of books of historical--and at least for this author, personal--import. 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." From loc.gov.

Books by authors from Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Paine to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville and many more are included. Many of the titles (Walden, Leaves of Grass, Little Women, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and more) bring back personal memories not only of the plots and narratives, but of my life circumstances at the time I read them. Was I in school? Living at home? Happily married? Happily not? What did the books mean to me at the time I read them? Did they change my world view or just provide a welcome distraction? What sort of lessons hid between all those lines? What parts of the books do I carry with me still? The books featured in Books That Shaped America may or may not have done so--but some of them have most certainly shaped this American.

Peruse Books That Shaped America--with summaries--on the Library of Congress website. Which of these books shaped you?

To find out if a particular book is a part of TWU Libraries' collections, visit TWUniversal Search (and remember to sign in for best results.)

~Sandy Cochran and Brita Stewart

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