In conjunction with its Celebration of the Book, the Library of Congress has opened an exhibit of the most influential books in American history. They aren’t the best, per se, but they are those that made a lasting impact on our culture. From their press release: “”This list of â€˜Books That Shaped Americaâ€™ is a starting point. It is not a register of the â€˜bestâ€™ American books–although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “We hope people will view the list and then nominate other titles. Finally, we hope people will choose to read and discuss some of the books on this list, reflecting our nationâ€™s unique and extraordinary literary heritage, which the Library of Congress makes available to the world.
“Curators and experts from throughout the Library of Congress contributed their choices for “Books That Shaped America,” but there was much debate in having to cut worthy titles from a much larger list in order to accommodate the physical restrictions of the exhibition space. Some of the titles on display have been the source of great controversy, even derision, in U.S. history. Nevertheless, they shaped Americansâ€™ views of their world and the worldâ€™s views of America.”