Books That Shaped America

A new exhibit – Books That Shaped America – opens today at the Library of Congress.  A good friend alerted me to this celebration of reading through Michael Dirda’s article in The Washington Post – Library of Congress Wonderfully Diverse List of Books That Shaped America.

Books date from 1751 with Benjamin Franklin’s “Experiments and Observations on Electricity” to “The Words of César Chávez” in 2002, and the list includes 88 titles – 27 published before 1900.

Some recognizable classics include:

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”
  • Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”
  • Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”
  • Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”
  • L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz”
  • Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”

Some that might not make a classics list were included too:

  • Irma Rombauer’s “Joy of Cooking”
  • Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”
  • Benjamin Spock’s “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care”
  • Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat”

Among the modern entries:

  • Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”
  • Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”

Read the complete list – here.  How many have you read?

Happy Birthday L. Frank Baum – the “Royal Historian of Oz”

Although the Metro Goldwyn Mayer film version of the “Wizard of Oz” with Judy Garland is the reference point for most fans of the classic, L. Frank Baum actually wrote 14 books in the Oz series, feeding the hunger of readers every few years  – much like J.K. Rowling with the Harry Potter series.

1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
2. The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904)
3. Ozma of Oz (1907)
4. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)
5. The Road to Oz (1909)
6. The Emerald City of Oz (1910)
7. The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)
8. Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)
9. The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)
10. Rinkitink in Oz (1916)
11. The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)
12. The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)
13. The Magic of Oz (1919)
14. Glinda of Oz  (1920 – published posthumously)

L. Frank Baum

Today is his birthday.

From a wealthy Pennsylvania oil family and plagued with a weak heart for all of his life, Baum died at 63.  In addition to the Oz books, Baum left behind an additional 72 books for children, some written under seven different pseudonyms:

  • Edith Van Dyne (the Aunt Jane’s Nieces series)
  •  Laura Bancroft (Twinkle and Chubbins, Policeman Bluejay)
  • Floyd Akers (the Sam Steele series)
  • Suzanne Metcalf (Annabel)
  • Schuyler Staunton (Daughters of Destiny)
  • John Estes Cooke
  • Capt. Hugh Fitzgerald

In checking my library system, I found an appealing note for one – The Master Key  –

The master key; an electrical fairy tale founded upon the mysteries of electricity and the optimism of its devotees. It was written for boys, but others may read it.

Too good to pass on, so I’ve requested the book.

How many L. Frank Baum books have you read?

The Reading Promise

The best part of Alice Ozma’s The Reading Promise is the list of books at the back. Including all the L. Frank Baum, Judy Blume, Ramona (Beverly Cleary), Harry Potter, and Encyclopedia Brown (Sobol) books, most of Charles Dickens, and short stories by Edgar Allan Poe – the list also suggests the following classics:

  • The Secret Garden
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Because of Winn-Dixie
  • Hoot
  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  • From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • The Giver
  • Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Island of the Blue Dolphns
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins
  • Maniac Magee
  • Dicey’s Song
  • The Pigman

Ozma offers seven pages of titles – all read to her  by her father as they used nightly reading for father/daughter bonding in a mutual promise to maintain an eight year “streak” of uninterrupted nights of reading.   The book is a stretched out and unremarkable memoir, but the list is a nice reference, if you need one.