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Old 07-16-2004, 09:22 PM
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Bibilophiles! Need advice on buying 30K of American literature


Folks, what we have here is a golden opportunity. I have been charged with procuring approximately USD 30,000 worth of American literature. Fiction and non-fiction are the rough genres, going back to say, de Tocqueville and the Federalist Papers. It's harder than you think. Any ideas?
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Old 07-16-2004, 09:27 PM
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I'm not going to italicize these, i'll just make a list.
  • Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • David Walker's Appeal
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • Every book by Tim O'Brien
  • Every book by Toni Morrison
  • Democracy by Joan Didion
  • Every piece of literature by Alan Ginsburg
  • Emerson's Self Reliance
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

That's all I have for now. I'm sure I can think of a bunch more later, but I want to see what other Dopers add first.
  #3  
Old 07-16-2004, 09:36 PM
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If you're going for a complete library, you'll have to include Hemmingway. I'd also vote for some Spider-Man, but that probably doesn't fit your boss' definition of literature.

Hawthorne? Poe? Twain? Uncle Tom's Cabin? I'm sure you can get dollar copies of these. Copy of the Constitution?

I assume that you're going for one of those cultural center sorts of things. How about Spillane (the man who nearly outsold the Bible), Hammett and Chandler?

I have to admit that aside from the aforementioned, my knowledge of American literature sucks balls.
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Old 07-16-2004, 10:24 PM
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Those already mentioned and


Civil Disobedience, Walking, Walden - Thoreau
The Scarlet Letter - Hawthorne
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Stowe
Moby Dick - Melville
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - Douglass
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - Jacobson
Portrait of a Lady - James
Huckleberryt Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and Pudd'nhead Wilson - Twain
The Red Badge of Courage - Crane
An American Tragedy - Dreiser
The Awakening - Chopin
The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, and Ethan Frome - Wharton
Up from Slavery - Washington
My Antonia - Willa Cather
The Great Gatsby - Fitzgerald
In Our Time, The Sun Also Rises, and A Farewell to Arms Hemingway
Main Street or Babbitt - Lewis
The Sound and the Fury, and Absalom, Absalom - Faulkner
The Grapes of Wrath - Steinbeck
Native Son - Wright
The Iceman Cometh - O'Neill
A Streetcar Named Desire - Williams
The Crucible and Death of a Salesman - Miller
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Albee
Invisible Man - Ellison
All The Kings Men - Warren
Henderson the Rain King -Bellow
Catcher in the Rye - Salinger
Armies of the Night - Mailer
Song of Solomon - Morrison
The Natural - Malmud
Go Tell It on the Mountain - Baldwin
John Updike - any of the rabbit novels
Little Women - Alcott
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Angelou
Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
War and Rememberance - Wouk
The Color Purple - Walker
Slaughterhouse Five - Vonnegut
Breakfast at Tiffany's - Capote
2001: Space Odyssey - Clarke
The Last of the Mohicans - Cooper

Poetry by
T.S. Eliot
e.e. cummings
Walt Whitman
Emily Dickinson
Robert Frost
  #5  
Old 07-16-2004, 10:29 PM
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Darn... I forgot


Some James Michener, any or all of it
Some Stephen King
The Call of the Wild, The Sea Wolf and White Fang - Jack London
Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment and The Last Picture Show - Larry McMurtry
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Old 07-16-2004, 11:02 PM
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Definitely some Raymond Chandler. And Jim Thompson. Pop. 1280 would be my pick.
For Mark Twain, I'd go with the later stuff - The Mysterious Stranger (usually part of a short story collection) is the perfect example.
Also the "USA" trilogy by Dos Passos. Maybe Last Exit To Brooklyn by Selby and Naked Lunch by Burroughs for the more decadent, arty stuff.
ANd I'll second Native Son. Essential. Although I think Invisible Man was boring as a turd.
I'm sure I'll think of more when I wake up.
  #7  
Old 07-16-2004, 11:03 PM
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A good site for some one-stop shopping: http://www.loa.org/
  #8  
Old 07-16-2004, 11:21 PM
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• Basic Documents in American History, ed. by Richard B. Morris
• Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, The Federalist Papers, ed. by Clinton Rossiter
• Washington Irving, The Sketch-Book
• Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays
• Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter; short stories
• Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
• Edgar Allan Poe, The Short Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe: An Annotated Edition, ed. by Stuart and Susan Levine
• Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin
• Henry David Thoreau, The Annotated Walden, ed. by Philip Van Doren Stern
• Herman Melville, Moby Dick and Bartleby the Scrivener
• Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
• Emily Dickinson, Collected Poems
• James Truslow Adams, The Founding of New England
• Mark Twain, The Annotated Huckleberry Finn, ed. by Michael Patrick Hearn
• Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, ed. by Ernest Samuels
• William James, The Principles of Psychology; Pragmatism; The Varieties of Religious Experience; The Meaning of Truth
• Henry James, The Ambassadors
• Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country; The Age of Innocence; The House of Mirth
• Frederick Jackson Turner, Frontier in American History
• Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons
• Robert Frost, Collected Poems
• Sinclair Lewis, Main Street and Babbitt
• Eugene O'Neill, Mourning Becomes Electra; The Iceman Cometh; Long Day's Journey Into Night
• T.S. Eliot, Collected Poems
• William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury; As I Lay Dying
• Benjamin Spock, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care
• F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
• Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
• Ernest Hemingway, Short Stories
• Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
• Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March; Herzog; Humboldt's Gift
• James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
• Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-1963
• John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
• Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
• Edmund Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
• Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
• Truman Capote, In Cold Blood
• John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever
• Daniel J. Boorstin, The Americans: The Democratic Experience
• Perry Miller, The Life of the Mind in America
• Norman Mailer, The Executioner's Song
• Ray Bradbury, The Stories of Ray Bradbury
  #9  
Old 07-16-2004, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by wmulax93
[*]Every book by Tim O'Brien.
Hey, I'm not the only one who remembers that complete genius. At a minimum, you need Going After Cacciato, The Things They Carried, and In the Lake of the Woods.

There are two other contemporary fiction writers you need to have in any decent collection. By Louise Erdrich, you need Love Medicine, Tracks, and The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. And the greatest work of 20th Century American literature, bar none, David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.
  #10  
Old 07-16-2004, 11:49 PM
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What a great assignment!

In addition to the obvious greats of the past, these are the contemporary authors I think are going to matter in the future:

Thomas Wolfe
Richard Ford
Jon Krakauer
Walker Percy
P.J. O'Rourke
Don Delillo
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Old 07-16-2004, 11:52 PM
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I'm sure I'll think of more when I wake up.
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Old 07-16-2004, 11:59 PM
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For Fiction:

A few years back, the folks over at Random House published a list of the 100 Best Novels of the Twentieth Century.

Of course, there was much dissention about the list. Some folks over at Radcliffe responded with a rival list, and Random House held a poll for the readers to come up with their own list. There are some definite stinkers on all the lists--the "readers" poll seemed to be skewed by a bunch of scientologists. And it encompasses all English Language works, not just American. But if an American book is mentioned on at least two of the lists, I'd say it's probably worth having.

And a suggestion for me: Don't forget to include "Young Adult" novels. They are very important in American Literature.

For Non-fiction:

This is a lot harder, I think. It really depends what the purpose of the collection is. Is it supposed to be a repository of "Great American Books," or is it supposed to be a reflection of American culture. Or both? Because a book like "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" may not be considered a "great book," but it's damned important to a lot of people.
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Old 07-17-2004, 05:57 AM
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Thanks for all the great ideas. If these suggestions haven't been incorporated yet, I'll make it so.

For the non-fiction, to answer Green Bean's question, what we're trying to create here is a rotating collection of lending books that capture Americana. Warts-and-all stuff is fine, but the emphasis is on what it means to be, and the various faces of, American. Or "North American" or "from the U.S." or whatever phrase we're supposed to use now.
  #14  
Old 07-17-2004, 06:59 AM
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The Library of America has a great collection, very high quality bindings, books that'll last a long, long, time, and most of the best of American literature. I'm sure one of their Friendly Representatives would be happy to help you spend 30,000 on a well-rounded collection.

They are definitely the way I would go if I had this much money and that goal. In fact, I have been a subscriber of theirs for years and so already have several thousand dollars worth of books.
  #15  
Old 07-17-2004, 07:36 AM
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Just wanted to toss in Tom Wolfe (aka "not Thomas"), Jack Kerouac, Evan Hunter, and mystery writers Ed McBain (Hunter's alter ego) and Andrew Vachss.
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Old 07-17-2004, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by False_God
Thanks for all the great ideas. If these suggestions haven't been incorporated yet, I'll make it so.

For the non-fiction, to answer Green Bean's question, what we're trying to create here is a rotating collection of lending books that capture Americana. Warts-and-all stuff is fine, but the emphasis is on what it means to be, and the various faces of, American. Or "North American" or "from the U.S." or whatever phrase we're supposed to use now.


I'm afraid my suggestions will be more 'good books to read' rather than 'important books to read.' Each book on my list is one I come back to time and again to reread. This isn't to say that they don't have their import, but I wouldn't include Emerson or Thoreau, because while they're important books, I haven't reread either, and feel no need to do so.

I'm also tempted to include a few of my favorite Canadian authors. For all that Canada and the US are two seperate cultures and countries, I think that Canada has as much in common with the US as it does witht the UK.

Final note, my list is a series of supplements to those suggestions already listed, not a bunch of replacements.

Non-Fiction - Norman Maclean's Young Men and Fire.
Walter Lord's A Night to Remember, and Day of Infamy
Edward L. Beach's Around the World Submerged (Capt's Beach's fiction is also worth a look, especially Run Silent, Run Deep.)
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (an exception about rereading, but should be on the list, I think.)


Somewhere in the Middle (and Canadian to boot) - Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf, as well as his autobiographical works - A Whale for the Killing, The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, and The Boat Who Wouldn't Float

Fiction - Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels
John Crowley's Little, Big
Tim Powers' Last Call
Madeleine L'engle's Wrinkle in Time (The latter books as well, though not as good)
S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders
Daniel V. Gallery's Now, Hear This (His non-fiction is also worth considering.)
Harry Turtledove's The Guns of the South
Robert Heinlein's Have Spacesuit, Will Travel; Double Star; and Starship Troopers.
H.P. Lovecraft's short stories. I'm more partial to his shorter works like "Pickman's Model" than "Call of Cthulhu".
Lois McMaster Bujold's Cordelia's Honor
L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables (another canuck on the list, I know.)

Graphic Novels - Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and Batman: The Killing Joke
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Old 07-17-2004, 08:29 AM
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Mark Twain:
  • A Tramp Abroad
  • Innocents Abroad
  • Life On The Mississippi
  • Roughing It
  • A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court
  • Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn
  • Adventures Of Tom Sawyer
  • Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven
  • The Gilded Age very timely, this one...

Both H.P. Lovecraft and Poe should be represented.

Take Back Your Government byr Robert A. Heinlein is non-fiction; a do-it-yourself manual for getting involved in politics & political reform.

The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy
and
Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union
by Bell Irvin Wiley

Non-fiction. A very important pair of books on US history from the ground up.
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Old 07-17-2004, 08:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by False_God
Folks, what we have here is a golden opportunity. I have been charged with procuring approximately USD 30,000 worth of American literature. Fiction and non-fiction are the rough genres, going back to say, de Tocqueville and the Federalist Papers. It's harder than you think. Any ideas?
I'd suggest picking up several anthologies on American lit and poetry for the library, and then researching each author in there. American political speeches, lit/film/poetry/theater criticism. American music and theater is worth including, or at least writings about it (jazz is what makes American civil). Native literature (including Alaska and Hawaii) would be good. Hmmmm.....I'm sure lists like this exist out there.

By the way, where are you? What/whom are you buying this for?
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Old 07-17-2004, 09:26 AM
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Anthology sets and the Library of America are both great ideas, as are all the individual suggestions, some of which I never would have thought of. Thanks again, folks and keep 'em coming.

drhess I'm in Sri Lanka, and we're buying this to serve as a rotating/floating lending library to educate people about Americana. Your tax dollars at work, in what I feel is a worthy way.
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Old 07-17-2004, 09:54 AM
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Authors that haven't been mentioned to add (mostly 20th century poetry)

William Carlos Williams
Charles Bukowski (personally, I'm not a huge fan of his, though I do like him, but I've a feeling his literature will stand the test of time. Moreso than Kerouac.)
Adrienne Rich
Charles Simic
Langston Hughes
Gwendolyn Brooks
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Old 07-17-2004, 12:54 PM
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some more...


Winesburg, Ohio - Sherwood Anderson
The Complete Stories - Flannery O'Connor
Generation X - Douglas Coupland (Canadian author, but set in the US)
Cold Mountain - Charles Frazier
Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel - C. Vann Woodward (acknowledged by many historians as the finest biography around)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X - Alex Haley
Company Aytch - Sam Watkins (memoirs of a Confederate foot soldier)
Personal Memoirs - Ulysses S. Grant
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Phillip K. Dick
Earth Abides - George Stewart
A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee - David Crockett (Davy Crockett)
Run with the Horsemen - Ferrol Sams
Civil War, Vol. I-III - Shelby Foote
Sketch Book - Washington Irving (includes Rip van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Last of the Mohicans - James Fenimore Cooper
USA - John dos Passos
E E Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962 e e cummings
The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems - Robert Frost
Undaunted Courage - Stephen E. Ambrose (history of Lewis and Clark expedition)
To Purge This Land With Blood: A Biography of John Brown - Stephen B. Oates
Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
  #22  
Old 07-17-2004, 01:21 PM
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still more...


Roll Jordan Roll: The World the Slaves Made - Eugene Genovese
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Travels with Charley: In Search of America - John Steinbeck
East of Eden - John Steinbeck
Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder
A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
Andrew Jackson: The Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832 (Andrew Jackson) - Robert V. Remini
Son of the Morning Star - Evan S. Connell
Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane
Words that Changed America - Alex Barnett (collected American speeches)
The Federalist Papers
Words That Make America Great - Jerome Agel (collects the great documents of American history)
American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson - Joseph J. Ellis
Profiles in Courage - John F. Kennedy
  #23  
Old 07-17-2004, 01:36 PM
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How about some juvenile lit...


Superman, the Complete History: The Life and Times of the Man of Steel - Les Daniels (Why not? Superman is one of the icons of American literature, no?)

Batman: The Complete History - Les Daniels (ditto Batman)

The Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks (Amazing Spider-Man, No. 1-5) - Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (also the three following volumes) (Collects the early Spider-Man stories.)

The Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum

Dr. Seuss - all his books, naturally
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Old 07-17-2004, 02:02 PM
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Not too much humor listed so far . . . Anita Loos' Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Patrick Dennis' Little Me, J.P. McEvoy's Hollywood Girl and/or Show Girl, almost anything by Milt Gross.

Also, don't forget the forgotten! Terrific, once-popular writers who have fallen off the charts: Tiffany Thayer, Olive Higgins Prouty, Booth Tarkington, Christopher Morley . . .
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Old 07-17-2004, 09:15 PM
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I would also sugest, Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. Many American students read this work during the cold war. Also, A Seperate Peace, by John Knowles.
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Old 07-17-2004, 10:18 PM
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I just realized, no one's mentioned Moby Dick! I can't say I reread it regularly, but it is a great work of American literature.
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Old 07-17-2004, 10:50 PM
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I will add the poet Robinson Jeffers, who wrote beautiful and profound poetry using the imagery around Monterey California. Really, folks, pick him up and read him.

Also, the stories of James Thurber, Dorothy Parker, and the essays of E. B. White and Amy Vowel. All four are very good reflections of some of the faces of America (or should i say the U.S.?), White and Vowel especially, both are keen observers of their age, both the big picture and small details.
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Old 07-17-2004, 11:01 PM
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Paper books or ebooks? If ebooks are Ok there are CDs with hundreds of seminal older American authors that are not that expensive. The Gutenberg Project also has thousands of free books.
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Old 07-17-2004, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
I wouldn't include Emerson or Thoreau, because while they're important books, I haven't reread either, and feel no need to do so.
I read a lot of Emerson and Thoreau and sometimes carry one or the other with me. Gandhi was strongly influenced by Thoreau as were many non-violent protestors in the 1960's. These two old friends from Concord continue to put things into perspective for a lot of us. To each his own.

False God, for your purposes I would include:

Black Elk Speaks

Blue Highways by William Leastheat Moon

The plays of Thornton Wilder

The poems of Carl Sandburg

Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Burns

(These are in addition to the excellent lists already provided.)
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Old 07-17-2004, 11:48 PM
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  #31  
Old 07-18-2004, 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Zoe
I read a lot of Emerson and Thoreau and sometimes carry one or the other with me. Gandhi was strongly influenced by Thoreau as were many non-violent protestors in the 1960's. These two old friends from Concord continue to put things into perspective for a lot of us. To each his own.
Yup. And I'd meant only that I wasn't going to include them on my lists. Not that I felt they shouldn't be in the library False God is assembling.

Also, I'd like to second the recommendation for ebooks, if you're allowed to use them. Only one publisher of works currently under copyright has a reasonable ebook policy, but for things like The Federalist Papers, and other vital texts in the public domain, you would be able to loan those out in multiple copies for a single investment.
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Old 07-18-2004, 02:44 AM
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Some dopers have already suggested comics titles- I have a few picks that go beyond the superheroes:

Love and Rockets by Jaime and Gilbert (and Mario) Hernandez- there are a bunch of collections out

anything by Dan Clowes, especially Ghost World and Caricature

Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware

One of Lynda Barry's collections- all about growing up in the modern USA

Check out www.fantagraphics.com for sources and more titles
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Old 07-18-2004, 03:36 PM
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The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Brings the immigrant experience to life and shows the situations that underlie many of our laws, especially labor laws, today. I think this book would fit very well with your purpose.

For nonfiction, I'd recommend some Studs Terkel, probably "Working" or "Coming of Age."
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Old 07-18-2004, 05:26 PM
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Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo.

I'm not sure how it ranks on the "Greatest Literature of all Time" list, but it's a powerful read with some importance in American history. And if you buy it, you're gauranteed to make a hippy smile somewhere.
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Old 07-18-2004, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by OtakuLoki
I just realized, no one's mentioned Moby Dick! I can't say I reread it regularly, but it is a great work of American literature.
Moby Dick was mentioned in post 4.
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Old 07-18-2004, 07:05 PM
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As you're outfitting a collection, I wonder if it's worth having the books custom-bound so they've all got uniform hardback covers with the title of the book and the name of the collection on it? Makes the books less stealable too.
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Old 07-18-2004, 07:13 PM
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As you're outfitting a collection, I wonder if it's worth having the books custom-bound so they've all got uniform hardback covers with the title of the book and the name of the collection on it? Makes the books less stealable too.

Can you do that with paperbacks? Does it make financial sense?
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Old 07-18-2004, 07:27 PM
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Do you know of any library that does such a thing? I don't. Do you know how much it costs to have a book rebound?

Stamping the library's name on one of the page ends of the book, and inside the covers, and putting magnetic tattler tags inside the spine is how you make a book less stealable.
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Old 07-18-2004, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by AbbySthrnAccent
Moby Dick was mentioned in post 4.

Ooops.
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Old 07-18-2004, 07:38 PM
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Can you do that with paperbacks? Does it make financial sense?

I don't know about making the books all uniform size, but I do know that binding paper backs into hardcovers happens fairly regularly on the college level. OTOH I'd imagine the cost is about 3/4 the cost of purchasing another copy of the book. So barely economical for a paperback book that is seeing a lot of use, but not for others.
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Old 07-18-2004, 07:55 PM
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Gentlemans Agreement by Laura Z. Hobson
Something by Zane Gray
Something by Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States, maybe)
  #42  
Old 07-18-2004, 08:05 PM
Shirley Ujest is offline
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For a more pastural setting and a slice of Americana:

Lemon Jelly Cake Madeline Babcock Smith

Never miss a sunset Jeanette Gilge ( for ages 10 and up.) (It is one of a series.I haven't read the rest, but I adored this book as a kid.)

Little House On the Praire Series Laura Ingalls Wilder. (ages 9 and up)

Anything by Dave Barry for some funny, lighter side reading.

And we would be remiss to exclude the Master: Cecil Adams The Straight Dope, The Return of the Straight Dope and The Straight Dope Tells All. A must for all discriminating libraries.


I never realized until this thread and checked my personal stash of books that most of my fiction and non-fiction books are set in the UK. Interesting.
  #43  
Old 07-18-2004, 08:13 PM
Shirley Ujest is offline
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If this has been mentioned, forgive me.

Catch 22

Sunshine Soldiers by Peter Tauber. recently back in print. I remember it as hysterically funny when I read this story about a reservists account of boot camp during the Vietnam war. I was 14 and a girl (still am), but it was a scream to me then and I lost my copy that I (cough)stole (cough) from my school's library. Karmic payback, to be sure.

What about spy, mystery or war novels? It certainly is not my genre, but I am sure other dopers can recommend a few good page turners.

For a much lighter side of mystery:Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Novels are a stitch. they are also like crack on a pringle. Can't have just one.

If you need recommendations for cheesy romance stories, or even better than average romances, I'm your gal.
  #44  
Old 07-19-2004, 02:03 AM
jellyblue is offline
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Random recommendations that haven't been mentioned AFAIK:

Sophie's Choice - William Styron
Long Day's Journey into Night - Eugene O'Neill
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Tennessee Williams (I'm assuming plays are o.k.)
Bastard Out of Carolina - Dorothy Allison then,
Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris, to lighten things up
Come To Me - Amy Bloom (very beautiful short stories)
Look Homeward Angel - Thomas Wolfe
Tender is the Night - Fitzgerald
A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving

for kiddies: Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
  #45  
Old 07-19-2004, 06:53 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor's Avatar
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Yes, all the Straight Dope books need to be included.
  #46  
Old 07-19-2004, 07:16 AM
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I'd suggest Thomas Paine's Common Sense and The Rights of Man. The former is more focused on the gripes of the colonies, but the latter is broader and had a great deal of influence on world events.
  #47  
Old 07-19-2004, 08:33 AM
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More...


One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
Guns, Germs and Steel - Jared Diamond
Deliverance - James Dickey
Last Picture Show - Larry McMurtry
Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut
(I would include a number of books by Vonnegut, but at least this one and Slaughterhouse 5, already mentioned)
The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett
The Caine Mutiny - Herman Wouk
The Demon-Haunted World - Carl Sagan
Call of the Wild -Jack London
Ballad of the Bones - Byron Herbert Reece
The Season of the Flesh - " "
Bow Down in Jericho - " "
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway
D-Day - Stephen Ambrose
Any good collection of the stories of H.P. Lovecraft


You probably need several good comprehensive collections of science fiction short stories.

Also, given the purpose of the collection (to familiarize Sri Lankans with American culture), I would suggest that you need not just the high-brow, capital L "Literature," but also some best-sellers from the past few decades. Just a thought.

Also, given that purpose, maybe some photography collections, and some histories of popular music, art and cinema in the US. Maybe a history of the automotive industry.
  #48  
Old 07-19-2004, 12:45 PM
Big_Norse is offline
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Early settlement/colonial stuff:

The History of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford
The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, poetry by Anne Bradstreet
Governor John Winthrop's Journal
Letters from an American Farmer, Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur
Sketch Book, Washington Irving
Poetry of Phillis Wheatley
The letters of Abigail Adams to her husband

Most of these can be found in anthologies of early American writers, like:
Early American Writing, Giles Gunn - Editor
672 pages | ISBN 0140390871 | Feb 1994 | Penguin Classic


Later stuff:
Narrative Of The Life Of An American Slave, Frederick Douglass
The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave
Declaration of Sentiments from the Seneca Falls Conference, Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Diaries of Mary Chesnut
Poetry of Langston Hughes

To follow up on spoke-'s suggestion about photography, how about books with the photographs of Ansel Adams, or the WPA photographers like Dorothea Lange.

Books on art from the Ashcan or Hudson River School artists.
  #49  
Old 07-19-2004, 02:58 PM
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I second A People's History of the United States
Perhaps the best single book to balance Hollywood's picture of the U.S. that people there are certainly getting.
also
The Autobiography of Malcom X
important historically, and as a rounded view of the U.S.


Little Big Man and Catch 22 also come to mind, but neither are as important.
  #50  
Old 07-19-2004, 04:16 PM
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Not everyone will agree with these i'm sure (trying not to repeat what others have offered already):

Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The Shining - Stephen King
The World According to Garp - John Irving
A Fool's Progress - Edward Abbey
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Hemmingway
Watch For Me On The Mountain - I forget the author, but this is the story of Geronimo
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Again I forget the author
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