By February 8, 2011 1 Comments Read More →

Twenty-Five Books that Shaped America

My favorite English professor is back.

Thomas C. Foster is also admired by blogger Misha Stone. We’re both big fans of two of his other books, How to Read Literature Like a Professor and How to Read Novels Like a Professor.

We like his breezy, accessible writing-style and his keen intellect in analyzing literature for its most salient points. I love his hip take on classics of the American canon. Just scan the table of contents for a literary giggle.

He returns with more biblio-wisdom in 25 Books that Shaped America. It won’t hit the press until June of this year, but it’s certainly worth taking note and adding to the list of book group resources.

Foster has selected 25 titles (and 15 also rans) that made significant contributions to American culture. The author freely admits that these 25 are “very good books” but not necessarily the best.

Your reading list from high school English is here: Fitzgerald, Cather, Hemingway, Melville, Twain, Lee. But surprisingly, so is a classic flashback to your kindergarten years, The Cat in the Hat. There’s some more contemporary fare, On the Road, The Crying of Lot 49, and Song of Solomon.

If you have a book group with a penchant for classics, bone up before the discussion by reading its entry in this compilation. Then ask your readers, why does this book stick in the American collective memory? What makes it important and memorable? These questions, and Foster’s perspective, will have readers looking at some books in a new light.

And isn’t this why we read and discuss?

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

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