We all had to read some form of American classics or American literature back in high school. Little did we know that those books we barely paid attention too, will come to haunt us one day in the form of us, the people, establishing an undying passion for them! How many of you remember reading the abridged version of “The Wrath of Grapes” back then? Would you take the risk of going through the original book, the complete version rather than the abridged form and knowing for yourself why, the books included in our curriculum were really worth reading (or should we say re-reading). well, today, for this exact same reason, we have compiled for you, a list of books, Top Ten American Literature Classics, to be exact. Now we cannot say that we have it “all” covered because covering a list like this with just ten books is a fairly impossible task. However, we have tried our very best and we truly believe that every book lover should read through this list, at least once in their lifetime!
Top 10 American Literature Classics
10. “ How the Other Half Lives” by Jacob Riis, Published in 1890
The first entry on our list of Top Ten American Literature Classics is by Jacob Riss. New York’s 19th century industrial workers lived in squalid, cramped tenement buildings. So journalist Jacob A. Riis made it his mission to show the American upper- and middle-class the dangerous conditions the poor faced every day with graphic descriptions, sketches, statistics, and his photographs. Not only did “How the Other Half Lives” inspire tangible change to the Lower East Side’s schools, sweatshops and buildings, but it was also the basis for future “muckraking” journalism.
9. “I know why the caged bird sings” by Maya Angelou, Published in 1969
Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” is a powerful American classic that tells of her struggles growing up during the Great Depression, and the abuse she suffered. The memoir follows Angelou during her youth as she survives soul-crushing racism, a brutal sexual assault, and finally her hard-won independence as she becomes a young woman. Her poetic prose continues to influence and inspire generations today.
8. “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, Published in 1952
Ralph Ellison is the next writer on our list of Top Ten American Literature Classics, Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, “Invisible Man” is a masterpiece that explores what it means to be black in America, as it grapples with race relations and misguided activist groups in the United States. The book follows the nameless narrator as he tries to escape racist stereotypes from both the white and black people whom he meets in an effort to find his true identity and make others see him how he sees himself.
7. “For whom The Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemmingway, Published in 1940
Story of an American who fought in the mountains of Spain.
6. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston, Published in 1937
A classic of black literature, it tells with haunting sympathy and piercing immediacy the story of Janie Crawford’s evolving sense of self through three marriages.