The first thought that has born at school and continue living in our heads that classics books are incredibly boring. Maybe it is kind of a protest against the school rules, because we had to read these books, maybe something else. In this article we will destroy this myth and prove you that there is a lot of books written by American classics that worth your reading. We created a list of 25 best options for you and are sure that some books from it will become your favorite. Ready to start? Let’s go!
In the spring of 1845, the 27-year-old author, imbued with the transcendental ideas of Emerson, decided to put an experiment on isolation from society and focusing on himself and his needs. He settled on the outskirts of Concord, Massachusetts, in a self-built hut on the shore of the Walden Pond.
He provided everything necessary for life on his own, spending most of his time in gardening, fishing, reading classics, swimming and rowing. In total, Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days in seclusion. At the same time, he did not hide from people and regularly communicated with the inhabitants of Concord, including the owner of the pond – Emerson …
For this, at first glance, a short time, he reviewed and overestimated all the achievements of man. In the absence of any amenities and property, the author reveals the veil of our dependence on the material world.
“You are the only creature with free will, how do you like it?” – these lines were read by Dwyane Hoover in the novel of the science fiction writer Kilgore Traut, the end-to-end hero of the works of Vonnegut, who is a kind of alter ego writer. Hoover decided that this question was addressed specifically to him (in fact, the question was intended for anyone who opens the book) and that he is the only person on the planet who has free will, only he can think and feel, and all other people around him are only weak-willed and soulless robots. This thought almost deprived the hero of reason. A car dealer who is not particularly intelligent, Duane Hoover unexpectedly turns out to be a wonderful guide for Kilgore Trout’s ideas. In this amazing philosophical book, ridiculing the modern insane world, the absurdity and cruelty of human actions, fantasy and reality, madness and logic, the author and the hero, the present and the false, the truth and the fiction are merged together.
Slaughterhouse-five is one of the main books of Vonnegut, which the writer gave himself on his fiftieth birthday. In 1999, the novel was filmed, the role of Dwayne Hoover was played by Bruce Willis.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” is a piercing story of a family living in a fictional small town in the south of America, in Alabama.
The time of action is the 30th years of the 20th century, the period of the Great Depression. The story is conducted on behalf of an eight-year-old girl.
The main character, Gene Finch, lives with his father Atticus, a lawyer, and his brother Jim. They have a brother with a friend Dill, and one enemy for three – a neighbor called the Scarecrow.
The world through the eyes of the child – complex, contradictory, ambiguous, – flashes before the reader. Everything was confused in this world: childhood fears and adult problems, a thirst for justice and a bitter reality, racial problems of the American south and the complexity of a single family.
In the center of the plot is a lawsuit over a black guy, who is accused of rape, which he did not commit. The lawyer is the father of Jean Atticus and struggles with all his might for justice to triumph.
For this book, translated almost to all languages of the world, the writer was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. The book was recognized as the best American novel of the twentieth century according to the “Library Journal” version, and then brought to the author the highest civilian award of the USA – the Liberty Medal.
In the work “Their eyes have seen God,” Zora Hurston uses a narrative technique that is used in African-American folklore. Hurston creates the main character, who kills the only man among three her husbands who loved her. The story is conducted from the first person, which allows the reader to understand the complexity, confusion and vicissitudes of the life of the main character as the plot develops.
Circumstances determined everything…
Around only mines. Everyone has a helmet, and a large bag of rubber bandages and a poncho, in which you will be wrapped, if (and when) something goes wrong. And in order not to go crazy, you can grab something of your own things, each according to your interests: an extra muffin, a thread for your teeth, a diary and even condoms … The world goes down into a hell, and you take care that a new life does not start, well so as not to fall ill of course … And what do they have in common? – “The load of their memory”… Write simply about the unbearable is a gift. You have to be ready that it will break something very thin inside, you may not even have guessed that you have it, but it is also so fragile that you become scary. And now O’Brien with his gift reveals this and you become so vulnerable, so tiny and meaningless… “Why? What’s the point?” beating in your head with an anvil, turning your head into a battered sieve …
The war became a kind of emptiness, devoid of desires, mind, conscience, hope and human feelings.
Henry James is a famous classic of American literature. His books are widely published and translated into foreign languages, the creative heritage is intensively studied and explored. He is praised as a novelist and theorist of the novel, as the author of stories and travel essays, criticist and memoirist. “The Woman’s Portrait” is one of James’s best novels. Isabelle, the main heroine of the story, learns the charms of marriage with a worthless person. Her fate is a confluence of fateful circumstances. Being a non-dowager and finding herself in Europe, she refuses quite worthy contenders for the hand, and after receiving a fortune, associates life with the rogue Osmond, who married her only to ensure the illegitimate daughter of Pensi, born of a courtesan, a decent existence. Illusions crumble, there is no hope of happiness, but Isabel with stoic courage suffers all the misfortunes that have fallen to her share.
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Even during his lifetime Kerouac was proclaimed as a “king of the hipsters”, but he invariably refused this title. All his work, which served as a catalyst for the counterculture, is permeated with the desire to break free from social patterns, to find meaning in life. These searches led to the fact that he was testing his body and mind, then he began to master spiritual teachings, primarily Buddhism, then traveled the country and the world. The first editor of this book liked to remember that he has never received so strange manuscript. Hefty as a lumberjack, Kerouac brought to the office a roll of paper 147 meters long without a single punctuation mark. It was a story about the fate and pain of a whole generation, built like jazz improvisation. And the main character of the novel, a womanizer and drunkard Dean Moriarty, is still riding his rattling “Mustang” on a road that will never end. Each new generation found something in the Beatles, but the peak of the revival of interest in Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs came in the first decades of the 21st century. Recently, the manuscript “On the Road” left the auction for almost $ 2.5 million, and then the novel finally acquired a cinematography; the producer was Francis Ford Coppola (he bought the rights to the film adaptation many years ago), and the main roles were performed by Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen.
Author was born in November 1, 1871 in Newark (New Jersey) in the large family of a priest. He changed several educational institutions (Lafayette – College, Syracuse University, etc.), distracted by journalism, writing and baseball. In 1891 he worked with his brother in the news agency. The following year he moved to New York, became a newspaper reporter, rented a room in a slum area. The life of the inhabitants of New York furnished rooms was told by his first novel “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets” (1892), the story of a young woman who had been abandoned by a seducer rejected by the family and who had committed suicide in despair. Actually, Maggie’s plot and characters repeat common places of moralizing literature, but the novel takes on depth when, from denouncing the sinful heroine, passes to condemnation of a deaf heartlessness that turns the life of the lower strata of society into a kind of jungle. The publishers rejected Maggie, and Crane printed the novel at his own expense under the pseudonym Johnston Smith. The book did not disperse, but was approved by H. Garland and WD Howells, whom the writer sent copies.
“Leaves of Grass” is a poetic collection of the American poet Walt Whitman. Although the first edition was published in 1855, Whitman continued to write a book throughout his life and managed to release several editions before his death.
The book is famous for its praise and admiration of feelings at a time when such straightforwardness was considered immoral. When most of the poetry of that time was focused on symbolism and allegories on spiritual and religious topics, the “Leaves of Grass” (especially the first edition) praised the corporeal and material world. However, Whitman, following Emerson’s example, which greatly influenced his poetry, does not diminish the importance of mind and spirit, but rather elevates the human mind and form, considering both of them worthy of poetic praise.
After the publication of the collection, Whitman was fired from his job after Foreign Minister James Harlan read and found this collection offensive. It is believed that John Whittier burned his copy of the 1855 edition. The negative review of Rufus Grizwold almost caused a delay in the release of the second edition of the collection.
In 1955, according to the decision of the World Peace Council, the centenary of the publication of the first edition of Leaves of Grass was celebrated.
A novel about the life of Chicago workers, who created the writer’s world fame – “The Jungle” (“Jungle”) – marked the turn of the writer to realistic creativity, the desire to find a way out of the contradictions of reality in itself. In this work Sinclair managed to expose the horrors of capitalist exploitation and show the dark machinations of businessmen, brought out the images of the workers, which arouse the reader’s deep sympathy.
When in 1952 the novel was published, on the account of his author has already had several published stories, essays and reviews. Already in a week after publication, the novel produced the effect of a bomb exploding. Periodicals were flooded with laudatory reviews of critics and readers. Roman lasted 16 weeks on the bestseller list. A year later the novel was nominated for the National Book Award. This list consisted of works by such leading figures of American literature as Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” and Steinbeck’s “East of Paradise.” But only the “Invisible Man” received the award.
This is one of those great novels that changed and glorified American literature.
The unnamed narrator conducts his sarcastic, bitter and furious narrative of how he grew up in a black community in the south, how he was expelled from a Negro college, how he moved to New York and became the main spokesman for Harlem’s aspirations.
The relevance and accusatory pathos of this novel are so high that even today it is at the forefront of combating racial prejudice. In the district of Randolph, southern North Carolina, the novel is forbidden to read in school libraries.
The writer was born a slave in North Carolina. After the death of the hostess, who taught Harriet to read and write, the girl was sold to a man who intended to make her his mistress. Without thinking of a way out, Harriet fled. In fear that she might be caught and returned to her master, the girl spent almost seven years in prison: she did not leave the room in the attic of the house.
Harriet concealed authorship and signed the texts with a pseudonym.
In the end, she decided to travel to the North. There she found the newspaper of Frederick Douglas and met with participants of the congress of women who fought for their rights. Harriet became friends with Amy Post, a feminist and abolitionist. She urged the girl to describe her life. So there a book “Incidents in the life of a slave girl” occurred, where she frankly told about the sexual exploitation of black slaves. Harriet hid her authorship, preferring to sign the texts with the pseudonym “Linda Brent”.
Maya Angelou is an American writer and poet. She has created seven autobiographies, five books of essays, several collections of poems. Her name appears among the authors of the whole series of plays, movies and television shows that have been published for over fifty years.
Maya Angelou took an active part in the civil rights movement. She has worked with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. In 1993, at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, she read her poem “On the pulse of the morning.”
Despite attempts to ban her books in some US libraries, her work is widely used in schools and universities around the world. In the books Angelou focuses on topics such as racism, personality, family and travel.
Riis describes the rental housing system that failed, he claims, because of greed and neglect from richer people. It requires a correlation between high crime rates, intoxication and reckless behavior of the poor and their lack of proper home. Chapter head, he uses his words and photographs to expose the conditions inhabited in poor ways, which “spoke directly with the hearts of people.”
He finishes “How the Other Half Lives” with a plan of how to solve the problem. He argues that the plan is achievable and that the upper classes will not only profit financially from such enterprises, but have a moral obligation to lean toward them as well.
Because of the invention of flash photography, Riis was able to photograph unlighted areas of rented flats and exhibit unhappy work and living conditions. The sharp white light from the magnesium flash powder often caused a shock on the faces of the photographed and was accepted as a sign of a sincere and objective photography.
This is one of the most significant literary phenomena of the first half of the 20th century. The book that formed the basis for the script of Martin Scorsese’s legendary film “The Age of Innocence.” A tragic and piercing love story that shook the foundations of the high society of New York in the 1870s, diligently replicating the mores of Victorian England. The story of the pure and bright feeling that the young Newland Archer had to the brilliant, educated and unhappy Countess Ellen Olenska and which the hypocritical society hastened to make a target for gossips and attacks …
The heart of the wise is in the crying-heart, and the heart of the fools in the house of mirth, warned the biblical Ecclesiastes. For the young and beautiful Lily Bart New York symbolizes not so much the golden age as the gold cage. Only a profitable marriage will help her to return the high position of Barth’s estate, lost as a result of her father’s bankruptcy. But time after time, Lily misses a favorable chance …
In the summer of 1937, many central states west of the middle course of the Mississippi were struck by a severe drought accompanied by weathering of the soil- “dust storms”. Thousands of ruined farmers and tenants left their native places. A huge wave of immigrants, migrant agricultural workers, seeking shelter and earnings in the valleys of the “golden state” of California occurred. Seizing the events and social meaning of this “migration of peoples”, the novel “The Grapes of Wrath” in the shortest time acquired national fame as a symbol of anti-capitalist protest, which imbued the public atmosphere of the United States in an unforgettable time of the “red decade”.
“Grapes of Wrath” is a revelatory work that occupies an outstanding place in progressive world literature, imbued with the spirit of liberation ideas. Truly reproducing the situation at the end of the 30s, the American writer managed to catch the typical for various sectors of the population shades of general discontent and disappointment.
An unnamed narrator hurries to help his childhood friend Roderick Asher, who wrote him a desperate letter. To the manor the narrator drives up at dusk and an ominous house, abandoned ponds, strange trees make a depressing impression on him. The atmosphere inside the house was even more depressing. Roderick Usher is very sick. He does not tolerate loud sounds, bright lights, strong smells, etc. He is anxious, in constant tension because of his sister’s illness, who is falling into catalepsy and melting in front of his eyes. It seems that the house itself, if it does not kill its inhabitants, then deprives the peace and reason, by grains sucking life. Slowly something ominous and inevitable comes…
“451 ° Fahrenheit” – a novel that brought the writer world fame. 451 ° Fahrenheit is the minimal temperature at which the paper ignites and starts burning. The philosophical anti-utopia of Ray Bradbury draws a hopeless picture of the development of a post-industrial society. This picture shows us the world in our future, in which all written editions are ruthlessly destroyed by a special detachment of firefighters, and the storage of books is punishable by law, interactive television successfully serves the general fooling, punitive psychiatry decisively understands rare dissidents, and the hunt for incorrigible dissidents goes electric …
The play “The Severe Test” was written in 1953, was repeatedly staged in theaters of many countries in the world and screened in 1996. At the heart of the play is the events of 1692 in the town of Salem, where witchcraft and relations with the devil were accused of women presumably inflicting damage on people and livestock. Women were found guilty and executed. Subsequently, of course, the church recognized such trials and executions as illegal and unjust. One of the plot lines shows the development of the process in Salem and the tragedy of women who can’t prove their own innocence because of the absurdity of the accusations brought against them…
The life of the black village girl Sili, the heroine of the novel, is invisible against the backdrop of world history. Sili writes letters to God, and her creator turns to the world, declaring a new cultural presence. African-Americans flashed in the role of mothers and nannies in the pages of American literature, but no one was particularly interesting. No one paid any attention to them, they were invisible. The essence of E. Walker’s text is to make the invisible visible and give the silent ones an opportunity to speak.
Emily Dickinson is an ingenious American poet. During her life she published only ten poems, but in the twentieth century, this woman from a small provincial town lost among the hills of Massachusetts, was destined to become an outstanding national poet and legendary person, whose name is now known to every American. This edition presents translations of selected poems by Emily Dickinson. Some of them were published earlier in various collections. In this book some poems are published for the first time. The book also includes an essay reflecting interesting facts about the biography of a mysterious poetess whose life was full of secrets and innuendo.
Kate Chopin is the most famous person among feminists-writers, whose books became incredibly popular all over the world and changed a lot of people’s lives. In the “Awakening” the main heroine of the book, Edna Pontelle can’t put up with her role of a mother and wife, established at the end of the nineteenth century in New Orleans.
The novel of one of the founders of feminism is about a woman, which turned out to be blocked in the framework because of the lack of acceptance by society of violations of family loyalty, was subjected to serious criticism of his contemporaries.
“It would not be worthwhile for the writer with such elegance and poetic grace to describe intimate experiences,” wrote in the Chicago Times Herald after the publication of the book in 1899.
The Socialists are coming to power in the United States and the government is heading for “equal opportunities”, considering it fair to make rich and mediocre ones rich at the expense of talented and wealthy. Persecution of business leads to the destruction of the economy, and one by one, under mysterious circumstances, talented people and the best entrepreneurs begin to disappear. The main characters of the novel are the steel king Hank Riarden and the vice president of the railway company Dagny Taggert vainly trying to resist the tragic events. Instead of general prosperity, society is plunged into apathy and chaos.
This book, changing the worldview, it forms a holistic vision of the world and provides answers to questions about the meaning of human life and the social significance of entrepreneurship.
This book was listed in the best-selling list of The New York Times three days after the start of sales and stayed there for 21 weeks.
This is the most significant work in the life of the writer, the work on which took 12 years of her life.
This book is about mischievous little boys Huckleberry and Tom. Huckleberry is a stray little boy, with a sense of inner duty and conscience, who is able to settle for small things and enjoy what he has. Huck is a burden on life in the house of the widow Douglas, where everything is strictly according to the established order, so he lives in a barrel, because he is so free! He prefers the underworld with Sawyer than the paradise in the company of the widow and her sister Miss Watson, constantly harassing Huck with remarks: do not put your feet on a chair, do not yawn, do not stretch. Brave, resourceful, possessing incredible imagination Huckleberry Finn himself attracts adventure. But amid the fun and excitement of the adventures of the boys in this work, important questions of upbringing, inequality, slaveholding are raised, which gives the book even greater depth.
In this book calm measured wisdom is combined with a childish fresh view of the world. It’s naive, funny, but much deeper than it seems at the first glance. There is some simplicity and freshness in how the writer addresses serious topics and at the same time does not forget about humor. The heroes are written out simply superbly: the strong women of Rommeli, the weak men of Nolana, the cruel children from early age, growing up into cruel adults, and now, when you are not expecting anything good from the urban jungle, the heroes suddenly remember kindness and mutual assistance.
Thanks to a lot of bright details, New York at the beginning of the 20th century appears before the reader as if in reality. Here is a piggy – bank from under condensed milk in the furthest corner of the cabinet, into which every penny is saved. Here is the Protestant Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, these are the only books in the house, but from them it is necessary for children to read one page before going to bed. Here is a fire escape laden with branches of a tree, where it’s so good to get into a hot day with a book and a pillow. And here is the Chinese ash, or paradise tree, which grows in spite of everything…