So, I didn't get much reading done this month either. And I'm currently back in the Motherland ("Hi, guys! Sure hope I can slip out for a Surly with y'all!"), ensconced with brotherS and sisterinlawS, preparing to deposit The Boy at the Alma Mater. Which means that this post was actually written some time ago.
Just in time to see this cool, new link to the Library of Congress's new exibition, Books That Shaped America.
So rather than talk about a book o' the month, I'm going to play the list game.
The list ranges from 1750 to the present (no shining city upon a hill stuff here people!)
Only 9 publications from that first 50 years. I can honestly say I've read thoroughly only one -- the Federalist Papers -- and read parts of Thomas Paine's Common Sense. The Federalist Papers is perhaps the most important piece of political science ever written, even though the individual essays were written as propaganda (to convince the voters of New York to ratify the new Constitution). Fed 10 and Fed 51 are thoroughly modern, thoroughly powerful analytical pieces.
The six from the 1800-1850 period include Washington Irving's spooky, lyrical The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, plus Meriwether Lewis's narrative of the Lewis & Clark expedition.
Things get really cooking in the second half of the 19th century. The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, Uncle Tom's Cabin and so many other iconic volumes.
The list is eclectic, thought provoking, and, in places, just plain weird. I love that The Cat in the Hat, The Snowy Day, and Where the Wild Things Are made the list, but Carl Sagan's Cosmos?? Or even odder, the 1998 publication of Emily Dickinson poems as an art book, Slant of Light=Sesgo de Luz by a "Cuban publishing collective"?? How the hell did THAT "shape America" in the late 19th century (or any other time)??
Whatever. Lists are phun. Happy Labor Day and what are you reading?