It’s not the most patriotic thing to read about North Korea on Independence Day, but I’m still full-hilt in The Orphan Master’s Son, which is becoming more accessible and more real. If you don”t have much going on over the long holiday weekend, settle in with one of these patriotic books. On this list are some of the contenders for the title of “Great American Novel,” as well as nonfiction works about America.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac. It’s the epitome of the Beat Age. The book is the bible of hard travelers. King of the Beat poets Jack Kerouac wrote the novel about his own experiences hitchhiking and driving back and forth across America with his freewheeling friends, and its publication marked a huge shift in American youth culture.
1776 by David McCullough. This massive tome is the way to go for an in-depth account of the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Lincoln by Carl Sandburg. This lengthy two-part biography of Abraham Lincoln is considered to be the most influential book about the man credited with the dual feats of ending slavery and keeping the United States together in the face of the Civil War.
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. Probably a little dense and heavy for holidays. This is one of the great American novels with modern stream-of-consciousness style as well as Faulkner’s Southern Gothic subject matter.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book is the most iconic and lasting portrait we have of the post-World War I era in which America lost its innocence and became decadent. There are flappers, drinking, beautiful parties, and the charismatic Daisy Buchanan, all of which is glitter on the surface to distract from the characters’ desperate attempts to discover a sense of purpose.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. A scathing look at racism and other backwards attitudes held in the South on the Mississippi River, where the novel is set.