Reading for UConn Reads

By Anne D'Alleva

Explore the world of classic fiction and participate in the selection process for UConn Reads 2012-13 with Anne D'Alleva, Associate Professor of Art History and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Chair of the UConn Reads Steering Committee.

One More List!

I can’t help it – one more booklist….

A few weeks ago, the Library of Congress opened a fantastic exhibition, “Books That Shaped America,” as part of their multi-year Celebration of the Book. The LoC website presents all eighty-eight books featured in the exhibition, with commentary.

The fundamental criterion for inclusion in this list was not literary or scholarly merit but influence. It’s an intriguing approach and leads to some strange bedfellows. I’m still trying to make sense of finding Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People together on the same list.

At the same time, it’s that very eclecticism that makes the list fun to browse. The LoC is inviting people to comment on these books and suggest others, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the list grows.

The list includes all genres, but for UConn Reads there are some interesting fiction possibilities – Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man; Joseph Heller’s Catch-22; Beloved, of course; and perhaps Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.

The first-edition cover of Ellison's Invisible Man, 1952. From the Library of Congress.

What books do you consider influential on American life? Please feel free to share your thoughts here or nominate a book at the UConn Reads website .