The United States of America has been in the spotlight lately, for the recently held Presidential elections. Its people have come under fire, criticism and accusations of supreme stupidity.
However Americans have been contributing for a long, long time to the list of the world’s best scientists, artists, inventors and Good Samaritans. Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain are just a few of the gems that were produced in the land of the brave, all of whom had a great deal of talent to show for.
To lessen the recent pain and hurt, we’ve come up with an idea to remind the world that the Americans do have remarkable talent and they know how to churn out some pretty good stuff!
Be sure to put these on your bucket list – ten of the best books ever written by American authors.
1. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
Rated as one of the 100 best English language novels ever written, The Catcher in the Rye is an account of teenage angst and rebellion in the life of its sixteen-year-old hero. J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield experiences pain, loss, depression and an identity crisis in the span of three days, taking his readers along the journey to find himself again. It is regarded as the perfect definition of what it is like to be a teenager, and has been a source of inspiration for people over the years.
2. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Remember the popular memes of Leo DiCaprio in a black tuxedo, raising a glass? Taken from a scene in the movie version of this classic! F. Scott Fitzgerald based his novel in the Jazz Age, and gave his hero enormous wealth, a mansion, a love of parties, a simple neighbor and an undying hope of reuniting with his lost love. The life of Jay Gatsby comes alive in the pages of this beautifully written book and leaves you wandering in a dream of music, champagne and lights.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s only novel is based in the Deep South, at a time when racism and gender discrimination was rampant. It is narrated by the eight-year-old daughter of a white lawyer defending a black man charged with the rape of a local girl in a small Southern town. To Kill A Mockingbird is a powerful classic that encompasses the serious issues of racial inequality and stereotypes with the humour and innocent findings of a child.
4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Succeeding The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a classic set in the times of slavery. Huck – friend of Tom Sawyer, son to the drunken Pap and adopted by Widow Douglas – has his share of adventures that come with his enormous share of money. From getting kidnapped and beaten, to hiding out on an island with an escaped slave and trying to leave home, this book addresses the coming of age of young Huck through a series of impressionable incidents, which make it the celebrated novel it is.
5. Moby-Dick, Herman Melville
Moby-Dick; or, the Whale is a controversial novel by way of its popularity. It was heavily criticized by some, and absolutely loved by others. Herman Melville’s 1851 novel is narrated by sailor Ishmael, talking of Captain Ahab’s obsession over revenge of his lost leg, bitten off by the white whale Moby Dick. This literary classic packs details of whale hunting and expeditions, and life at sea with a diverse crew, while also talking about the issues of class, social status and God.
6. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Little Women is another literary classic that has delighted readers of every age in the 148 years since its release. Set in New England, it talks of the lives of the four March sisters, each different from the other, but who live for the same family virtues, true love for what each believes in and challenges of life that test their faith. Louisa May Alcott brings together in her book a family drama riddled with hope, love, dreams and sacrifices.
7. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck has based his novel in the Great Depression, in 1930’s Oklahoma. The Grapes of Wrath follows the trials of a farm family on their way to promising California after they are uprooted from their homestead. It is a powerful depiction of the conflict between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, and the inequality and injustices brought by the Depression. This classic is a portrayal of the intensity of human behavior during times of need.
8. The Colour Purple, Alice Walker
Alice Walker’s epistolary novel set in 1930’s rural Georgia is a heart wrenching story of fourteen-year-old uneducated African-American Celie and her letters to God. Raped by her father, married off to an older man, separated from her sister and surrounded by hostile faces leaves her in an unhappy life, in which hope and happiness are found in unlikely places with unlikely people. The Colour Purple makes for a haunting read that is worthy of its National Award.
9. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand writes into her hero, her idea of an ideal man. Howard Roark of The Fountainhead is a young architect, battling with his contemporaries to remain individualistic and pursue his practice of modern architecture. In a world where traditionalism is favoured, he finds people who challenge, support, rival and hinder his progress, interacting with them in ways that reveal the different aspects of human character that make this popular novel an interestingly philosophical read.
10. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
One of the most celebrated authors of all time, Ernest Hemingway fills deep emotion and heart rending plots into A Farewell to Arms. It gives the account of a young American lieutenant serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian army during the First World War. He falls in love with a young nurse, fights at the front, narrowly escapes with his life and returns to the heroine, but with an unexpected twist that makes this novel largely humane.
There is always hope in life, as these writers have shown us through their eternally beautiful versions of the fact. Happy reading!