1. dawdler
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    dawdler New Member

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    American Literature

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by dawdler, Jun 30, 2008.

    Okay so I know this is a broad topic but I've decided to switch my course to this at university so would really appreciate some must reads along with what I may have or will read.
    Thanks
     
  2. Sandy Banks
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    Sandy Banks Member

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    I really love American literature and have read alot of it. Most American literature is quite new cos USA is a fairly new country, and it tends to be more fast pased and youthful to me. Most classic USA books are considered to be standards now.

    Of the top of my head you've got- huckelbury finn by mark twain, edgar allen poe's murder mysteries, walt whitman and emily dickensons poems, the great gatsby by f scott fitzgerald, william faulkner, the grapes of wrath by john steinbeck, for whom the bell tolls by ernest hemmingway, catcher in the rye by sallinger, on the road by jack keroac, in cold blood by truman capote, to kill a mockingbird by harper lee, one flew over the cuckoos nest by ken kessey, errr i carnt think of any more now. I've got the bukl of the classics there but there probably still a few more. All of those books were a delight to read for me and make up the majority of my all time favourates so i hope you can enjoy they as much as i did.
     
  3. cargirl86
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    cargirl86 Member

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    Sandy Banks gave you a great list to start with, but I would encourage you to take those authors and delve even deeper. Fitzgerald has a broad collection of short stories, as well as equally loved classics such as "Tender is the Night" and "This Side of Paradise." Personally, I could hardly stomach Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath," but "East of Eden" and "Of Mice and Men" are superb.

    Some authors to look into off the top of my head include Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Whitman, and Melville.
     
  4. flashgordon
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    flashgordon Contributing Member

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    Well, I can't offer much since I prefer Russian, Latin, or German writers more, but John Dos Passos is classic for early 20th century American literature. Also, Henry James has some brilliant short stories. I've found that with American writers, their best works are often the ones they are not the most famous for, so like cargirl86 said, delve deeper into the cannon if you can.
     
  5. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    I recommend The Pearl by John Steinbeck. It's not a long book but is an interesting tale about the nature and results of greed.

    Thinking about other pieces of American literature, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, White Fang and Call of the Wild by Jack London, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, and Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe all come to mind.

    Whatever you do though, avoid The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway like the plague. It is a terrible novel about absolutely nothing.
     
  6. Rink85
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    Rink85 Member

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    Afterburner is right. Avoid The Old Man and the Sea, but some of those other ones listed are great.

    Speaking of Steinbeck, try Of Mice and Men if you haven't yet. That one's terrific.
     
  7. Gladiatus
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    Gladiatus Contributing Member

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    Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is overated and you can see the age. I really dont like it. Maybe that was because we were MADE to read it at school, our exam was on it.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I think the most read authors in an American Lit course are Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck. Try As I Lay Dying by Faulkner if you haven't read him yet. I thought that was a good place to start just to get used to his writing. Read anything by Hemingway. I don't know why people are saying The Old Man and the Sea is bad because I think it's an excellent example of what one can do even with simplified writing. Then, for Steinbeck, read Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath, and East of Eden.

    Of course, don't forget some of the other gems already mentioned, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and Invisible Man.
     

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