Saturday, August 27, 2005

Book Lists

Since school is either back in session or close to, I've been thinking a lot about book lists and comparing the books I read with those my children have been (or are being) required to read. I have noticed that certain books that I consider important are now being left out. My children are no longer being exposed to Huckleberry Finn or MacBeth or The Federalist Papers. Some of that is due to "political correctness" and "cultural sensitivity." And, yeah, there is only so much you can expect a student to read over the course of his/her studies. But without a common canon of important works, how can we make a unum out of a pluribus?

For what it's worth, here is the list I have come up with so far. It is in no particular order and includes books that are of historical import as well as literary. This list is subject to revision at the author's whim.

Huckleberry Finn
Walden Pond
The Federalist Papers
Bible Stories (at least as literature)
The Iliad
or The Odyssey
The U.S. Constitution
The Declaration of Independence
The Gettysberg Address
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech
The Magna Carta
The Brothers Karamazov or Crime & Punishment
Earth Abides
The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg
Hiroshima by John Hershey
Guadacanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis
Elements of Style by Strunk & White
The poetry of Robert Frost and Carl Sandberg
Short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Shirley Jackson, James Thurber, Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers
To Kill A Mockingbird

Just for fun, here is the summer reading list for Bishop O'Reilly Junior & High Schools. All the books were to be finished by the first day of school. It's ambitious--even for a reader like me! But I like most of their choices (still no Huckleberry Finn, though...)