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200 Best American Novels

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message 1: by Allison (new)

Allison Haven't read many of these, but want to add a big chunk to my to-read list:

message 2: by Matt (last edited Mar 06, 2016 01:41PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt They can't be all that great. I've only read one of them. Otherwise they would have made me read more of them in highschool.

Paula Like most such lists, even where one agrees re an author, usually it's one of the less interesting of her/his works that is selected.

message 4: by CD (last edited Mar 06, 2016 04:31PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

CD This is an alt list to some of the standard canon of English Language Literature.

Most of the authors should be familiar, if not well known. The selections are 'alternatives' to the standard works for some of the authors such as Twain. I see that the more well know books are often included too. With Twain, as an example, Puddin' Head Wilson makes the list alongside the better know Huck Finn and Connecticut Yankee.

There are some17th and 18th Century inclusions I find just odd or at best obscure. Whether the first book on the list Susanna Rowson's "Charlotte Temple" or Henry James "Princess Casamassima" to name two that caught my eye, there are works by authors that are better represented by other works or period/style pieces by other writers.

Edith Wharton is just over represented! Neither a fan nor a detractor, just too much.

I have a personal aversion to Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter" (I won't plague you with a link to my review and my reasoning) but have always been a big fan of Seven Gables.

There are a number of personal favorites of mine on this list and a few more odd inclusions from the 20th Century. The impression I get beyond the description of the 'why' of these selections is that this is a personal favorites list. I'd be interested how many people who read some of the more obscure or alternative works would agree with the creator of this list as to their agreement with its contents.


I think I understand the inclusion of all of the books, certainly the ones I've mentioned by title. A few are included for a history of literature reason so that might interest some. In a classroom/academic setting such a Survey Class, this is an interesting but still 'personal' list.

As a final footnote, I've read all but I think five in a quick count. Nightwood and A Bloodsmoor Romance were completely new titles.

Samantha I was an American Studies major in college. Fortunately for me, the professor of my Am Lit survey course believed the first American novel written was Huck Finn, everything prior being "morality tales." One result, though, is I've never even heard of most the pre-Huck Finn authors or works with the obvious exceptions of Melville, Hawthorne, and Cooper.

Silverpiper I think many of the older books would have gone out print long ago. I was familiar with most of the authors but I've read more of the books published after 1930.

AliJ Allison wrote: "Haven't read many of these, but want to add a big chunk to my to-read list:"

I have only read 5 . I never heard of a lot of them.

Harley Bennett I have read nine; will not read any of the others.

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